Queen of the Night- Read Alike Suggestions

If you enjoyed Queen of the Night, here are some read alike suggestions that are based more on the time period and subject, rather than the literary style.  I hope that you find them enjoyable.

Witch of Painted Sorrows by  M.J. Rose


Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg


Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman


Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan


Happy Reading!!

Queen of the Night- Discussion Questions Part II

Some more questions to think about…

j23hEBNThe style of the book has been criticized as making Lilliet more distant and difficult to establish communion with.  Did you find Lilliet as a character more off-putting or engaging?

Could you  have guessed at any earlier point in the novel who betrayed Lilliet?  Did you find the revelation to be anticlimactic?

What did you feel that Chee’s use of historical figures added to the book, if anything?  Do you think they were well utilized?  Do you think they added to the telling of the story?


Queen of the Night- Interviews with Alexander Chee

Check out these entertaining interviews with Alexander Chee:

The Rumpus Interview with Alexander Chee

Slate Interview with Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee’s Interview with Seth Myers on Late Night


(Picture source: http://www.nbc.com/late-night-with-seth-meyers/video/alexander-chee-on-his-new-novel-the-queen-of-the-night/2979730)





Queen of the Night- Discussion Questions Part I

And now for some discussion questions for our latest book, Queen of the Night…

Throughout her life we see Lilliet in a variety of personae.  Which of these personalities comes closest to her true self?   Why?

What did you think of the historical portrait of Second Empire Paris?  Would you have liked to live there?  Is it different than you would have thought?  What are some similarities between Belle Epoque Paris and today’s culture?  In what ways does the pervasiveness of technology influence our impression of celebrities or other famous people?

Chee used an opera style format (basing the story roughly on The Magic Flute) to tell Lilliet’s story.  Did you find it too fantastic or was it enjoyable?  Would you have preferred it to be more realistic?  Have you ever read a book similar in style to this one?  What advantages did this format give the author in the telling of the story?  Would you want to read another book written in this style?

Until next time!





Queen of the Night – About Alexander Chee

alexander-chee_jpg_size_custom_crop_659x650 Queen of the Night could not be more different than Alexander Chee’s first book Edinburgh.  Well reviewed, Edinburgh tells the story of a child’s sexual abuse and its aftermath.  It is a much more realistic novel than Queen of the Night which foregoes realism and functions effectively as a fairy tale- and a lengthy fairy tale at that.  At 500+ pages, Vogue Magazine called it a “doorstopper of a book.”  And one that took its author 15 years to write, years that Chee described as “titanic struggle… a lot of hopelessness combined with periods of breakthrough.”

The genesis of the book was in a conversation that Chee had with a writer friend about 19th century opera sensation, Jenny Lind.  Chee was intrigued by the story, and further researched the subject. In doing so, he stumbled upon photos of the Comtesse de Castiglione, an icon of glamour in 19th century Paris.   He drew most of his inspiration  for the book from photos of her in costume.  One of those photos graces the book’s cover.  He wondered what the story was behind the photos… who was that woman and how did she get there?  He says that he realized in looking at the photos that “the clothes were stagecraft, they  were both armor and a weapon.”  The more Chee learned about 19th century Paris, the more he became interested in it.  He took several trips to Paris for research and used, in his words, a “mixture of museums, novels, bios, letters and histories.”

Additionally as a professionally trained child choir singer, Alexander Chee was also fascinated with the ephemeral quality of the human voice, particularly of women’s voices.  He feels that women’s voices have less of a time limit on them, and he says that “I loved my voice so much, I couldn’t imagine who I would be without it, and so that is very much in this book.”

(Sources: Vogue.com/culture/bks/2/1/16, NPR.org/2016/01/30/464866350, Rumpus.net/2016/02/the rumpus-interview-with-Alex-chee/Alex Chee_interview)

(Photo source: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/books/2016/02/14/alexander-chee-brings-art-to-life-in-the-queen-of-the-night.html)





Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

Our newest blog book is Alexander Chee’s monumental Queen of the Night.  Publisher’s Weekly called it “dreamy and dramatic”.  US Weekly said it “enchants”.  The Atlantic called it “epic”.  These are just a few of the oceans of praise for Alexander Chee’s newest book, an operatic novel, about well, opera.  And as in the style of opera with its sweeping technicolor moments of tragedy and comedy, the book demands that we suspend our disbelief as we immerse ourselves in unusual characters, and some dramatic and often outlandish plot twists.j23hEBN

The curtain rises on our story in Paris in 1882 with our heroine, famous soprano, Lilliet Berne, arriving at the Senate Ball.  She is approached there by a mysterious stranger who wants her (with her extraordinary “falcon” style voice) to originate the leading role in his new opera… the chance of a lifetime that any singer would embrace.  But Lilliet discovers, to her dismay, that this libretto is based on her own life, a life that she has gone to great lengths to conceal.  In fact, only four people know her true story, one who is dead, one who loves her, one who wants to control her, and one whom she hopes will never think of her again.  And so Lilliet embarks on a search for her betrayer.

The plot weaves back and forth between Lilliet’s past and present.  Like any good opera this framework serves to highlight Lilliet’s more fantastic comings and goings. It chronicles her early years as a Midwestern farm girl who flees to Europe and becomes an equestrienne with a traveling circus.  And that is just one of her careers.  During the course of the book she also works as a high-end prostitute, a seamstress, a maid and an acrobat as well as an opera singer.  She survives a war, and escapes criminals. The glittering setting of second-empire Paris also features well known historical figures such as Verdi, George Sand, Chopin and Tugenev all making cameos in Lilliet’s event filled life.

Grown up fairy tale or historical novel?   We’ll touch on those topics and more during this month’s blog.  Pick up your copy of Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee at the Jericho Library circulation desk today!

Source: (http://www.amazon.com/Queen-Night-Alexander-Chee/dp/0618663029/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462312784&sr=1-1&keywords=queen+of+the+night)

Picture source: (http://bolt.cd/board/f34/alexander-chee-queen-night-1260569/)



Some Readalike suggestions for The Expatriates


If you liked Janice Y. K. Lee’s The Expatriates, you may want to check out these other titles:

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah

White Ghost Girls by Alice Greenway

A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum

Happy Reading to all!!

Picture source:https://sweetmamam.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/review-the-expatriates-by-janice-y-k-lee/



The Expatriates- Discussion Questions -Continued

Happy-Release-week-to-Janice-Y.K-Lee-The-Expatriates-hit-shelves-yesterday-It-follows-3-American-womJanice Y.K. Lee is wonderful at creating atmosphere in her books.  Hong Kong is almost like an additional character in her books.  Do you think she conveys what it is like to  live there, to live among other expats?  What do you think is the most distinctive thing about being of one culture but living in another?  What form do the differences take? Additionally, Lee is known for her satiric eye in this book, how do you think she points out quirks in the expat culture?  Did you find this amusing, or perhaps sad?

Class distinctions matter a great deal in The Expatriates.  How is this demonstrated for Margaret, Mercy and Hilary?

Another central theme of the book is that of forgiveness.  Do you think this is represented realistically?  Do you believe that the three main characters could have all bonded despite their histories, or was that just artistic license?  What did you think of the ending?  Was it realistic?  How  would you  have changed it, if you didn’t find it realistic?

Do you think the author was successful in creating a book that ultimately depicts the woman’s experience in the expat community?

Source:  (http://exploregram.com/happy-release-week-to-janice-y-k-lee-the-expatriates-hit-shelves/)

Some Discussion Questions for The Expatriates

Lots of things to discuss so now, dear reader, for our book discussion questions.janice-y_-k_-lee-807

How did you respond to Lee’s use of the shifting third person narration?  Was it confusing, or did it help you in getting to know each character?  How did this type of narration serve each character?  Did it help you become sympathetic to each one?

How did the author handle the pacing of each narration?  Did you feel her time with each character was about right or would you have preferred that she spend more time (or less) with each character’s viewpoints?  Did you like or not like the main characters?  Was there  one with whom you particularly identified with?

How successful was Lee in depicting the expatriate experience?  Did you find anything surprising about the expat lifestyle?  After reading the book, did you think you would enjoy the lifestyle or would you find it claustrophobic and limiting?  For an active, formerly working woman, how would the notion of being a trailing spouse be defining?  How are the husbands in the book portrayed?  Do they seem three -dimensional?  Is there a way that the husbands might be better represented in the book?

One of the recurring themes in the book was escape.  How did this manifest itself in each of the characters?