Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux a la reine)

Sidonie Laborde (Léa Seydoux), the queen’s readerYou can read reviews of the film, in French with English subtitles, through the Rotten Tomatoes website. Most of them miss the strength of Chantal Thomas’ 2002 historical novel, which presents an important study of cross-class courage, loyalty and devotion.

Enlisting her historian’s knowledge of Louis XVI’s court at Versailles, Ms. Thomas constructs a fictional servant, Agatha-Sidonie Laborde the queen’s reader, and an observer of palace intrigues. The story spans three days beginning July 14, 1789 as Sidonie becomes a participant in the rumors, confusion and terror that grip both aristocrats and servants, after rioters in Paris storm the Bastille. 

Marie-Antoinette—33 year old queen, mother of four, despised and distrusted as an Austrian in the French court, married as a teenager to an indecisive husband Louis XVI—struggles to fill her lonely days. She has one close confidante, the stunning Gabrielle the Dutchess of Polignac, who is also the governess of her children. 

Both Marie-Antoinette—hyper-saturated in privilege, and Sidonie—an orphan of unusual literacy, work to find meaning in their lives.

In the midst of the turmoil Sidonie must decide whether to remain loyal to her queen. As Marie-Antoinette becomes aware of the threat to her own life from the Paris revolutionaries, she must choose between relieving her isolation and saving the lives of those closest to her. 

The courage it takes to make the right decisions is the strength of the novel and the film. Farewell, My Queen is engaging, worth a trip to the movies, and discussion afterward. Share your comments after you’ve seen or read the story.

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    Response: movie review | bridging barriers - Blog - Farewell, My Queen (Les adieux a la reine)
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