NATIONAL BESTSELLER, New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, and a Best Book of the Year from NPR, Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, and others. The mesmerizing story of one woman's rise from circus rider to courtesan to world-renowned diva—"a brilliant performance" (Washington Post).
The Queen of the Night tells the captivating story of Lilliet Berne, an orphan who left the American frontier for Europe and was swept into the glamour and terror of Second Empire France. She became a sensation of the Paris Opera, with every accolade but an original role—her chance at immortality. When one is offered to her, she finds the libretto is based on her deepest secret, something only four people have ever known. But who betrayed her? With epic sweep, gorgeous language, and haunting details, Alexander Chee shares Lilliet's cunning transformation from circus rider to courtesan to legendary soprano, retracing the path that led to the role that could secure her reputation—or destroy her with the secrets it reveals. "It just sounds terrific. It sounds like opera."—The New Yorker "Sprawling, soaring, bawdy, and plotted like a fine embroidery."—NPR