Well, little did I know when I picked up The Queen’s Lover from the library that it would feature a ton of information about King Gustav of Sweden, for whom this blog is in part named.
I knew about his design influences, based on his affinity for France. He took French rococco and pared it down to Swedish bare bones beauty. But this book revealed so much more! He was a huge, long-time supporter of the French Monarchy, with a special fondness for Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. He married and had surrogate children fathered by a friend, but was openly gay. He built the first opera house in Sweden and make many other major cultural and artistic contributions. Although his laws were very fair in the beginning, as monarchies in Europe began being threatened, he made some bad moves out of fear for his own throne.
The author’s real story is about Gustav’s right hand man in France–Count Axel von Fersen, with whom Marie Antoinette had a life-long affair. It goes into intriguing detail about the last several months of Marie and Louis’ life before and during the French revolution, and the role von Fersen played in their attempt to escape Paris. Very eye-opening account of the French monarchy and the French revolution from a different vantage point. Painstakingly researched. A good read, especially for Marie A fans.
BTW, this is a portrait of King Gustav.