Cover Image: Queen of Exiles

Queen of Exiles

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Member Reviews

This was an amazingly written book! It was a bit slow in the beginning but I loved the richness of the research and the writing!
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Vanessa Riley has done it again! From the very beginning, in her lyrical style, she had me turning the pages. I love that she brings to light such amazing historical women of color. I love how she showcases their strengths, their tragedies, their experiences with such emotion and depth that I am transported into that time. I can't wait to read more of her work. Truly talented!
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Early 1800's Haiti was a self-declared kingdom after defeating the French in a battle to become a free kingdom.  During this short time of freedom, King Henry and Queen Louise were the island's leaders.  We see this royal era followed by the exile of the queen and her daughters who escaped to England, Germany and finally, Italy.  Queen Louise was beloved by many was kept abreast of things in her homeland through newspapers and visitors.

Although Vanessa Riley's writing is beautiful, the book felt too long to me, and I got bogged down a bit. I loved learning a piece of history I had never known anything about, and it drove me to research more about Haiti and this time period..

My thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins for an advanced copy of this e-book.
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Rich in historical detail and a story that needed to be told.  I enjoyed this book very much.  
Many thanks to William Morrow and to Netgalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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This book has so much potential but the non linear narrative for a historic story without having a through line on way we're bouncing all over just isn't working for me. I really love the inspiration for this story and will look for more in the first and only queen of Haiti.
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With QUEEN OF EXILES Vanessa Riley continues to show her skill at bringing to life the stories of extraordinary Black women. This one shares the journey of Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid who was exiled to England after the Haitian revolution. It is a thoroughly researched novel with complex characters, vivid imagery, and a look at moments in history that are unknown to many people.
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In Queen of Exiles author Vanessa Riley gave me both an adventurous read as well as a history lesson. The author brought out the heart of the queen so profoundly that I felt like I was in exile going on the journey with Queen Marie-Louise Christophe. Her strength was endearing. I love how the author showed the humanness of the queen displaying her struggles despite her crown while also displaying her ability to live in comfort and enjoy a life of luxury while in exile. I continue to be a fan of this author's work and look forward to her future projects. Thank you William Morrow and Netgalley for the advance copy.
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This book tells a remarkable story that I wish would be more widely known because it debunks so many prevalent stereotypes about Black people throughout the course of history. The fact that I didnt know so much of what was narrated in this story speaks to the lack of world history taught in American schools, and it also speaks to the bias that impacts what stories are passed down through time. I will be sharing what I learned here with anyone that will listen!
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I'll say first that I'm already a fan of Vanessa Riley's abilities, so I was expecting excellence. The author delivered. I wanted to read this because of her previous books, and because I like books with less familiar historical settings. I struggled a bit early with the time shifts in the book, possibly due to my unfamiliarity with the time period. However, when I hit the point in the book where it was was explained how sugar was used for money, my mind settled in and everything just flowed.

This is equal parts fascinating and sad, and the emotion felt in the end will move any reader.
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Based on the real life of Queen Marie-Louise Christophe, the first and only queen of Hayti, from years 1811-1820. 

The book covers a wide timeline, life before the crown, during their reign and after her husband, King Henry was overthrown. 

After the kingdom is overthrown in 1820, Queen Louise and her daughters are forced to flee Hayti and go into exile in Europe. 

Historical fiction is my comfort genre. I’ve always loved history and reading it in novel form satisfies my love to learn and read at the same time. 

I had no prior knowledge of the history of Haiti (previously spelled Hayti) and really learned a lot from the book and Riley’s authors note at end. 

I struggled with the back and forth of the timelines, at times the book was told in present/past tense and sometimes as an interview with a reporter. I also thought at times it was a bit too long. 

I’ve had Riley’s last novel Island Queen on my TBR for awhile and would still go back and give that a try! 

Thanks to #netgalley, the publisher and the author for this free e-arc in exchange for an honest review!
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Historical Novels Review, August 2023:

Hayti (Haiti) became a sovereign nation in 1804, free of slavery, after defeating Napoleon’s forces. The formerly enslaved now rule the new nation. In 1811 amidst continuing political unrest, King Henry Christophe sets up a monarchy modeled after European royal courts. Henry’s vision for Hayti was to raise it to a distinguished nation under Black rule, respected by the white nations of the world. But he never gains the respect of his subjects, who feared and disliked him. His tenuous rule is overthrown in 1820, and his surviving family escapes.

Queen Marie-Louise tells her story in first-person narrative. We meet her in England after she arrives, a widowed, exiled queen accompanied by her daughters, Princesses Améthyste and Athénaïre. As a devoted and loving wife, she recounts Henry’s rise to king and her efforts to play a meaningful role as queen. Shifting between Hayti when her husband ruled and her life in exile, the pieces of her life fall into place. But what happened to bring about the downfall and death of King Henry I and his son? This is the most painful part of Louise’s story, and one she vows never to tell… until 1847, after living many years in Italy.

Vanessa Riley has done a remarkable amount of research in giving Louise a more visible place in history. Louise was respected by her subjects and stood with majestic pride among her peers of Europe’s royalty, not bending to anyone who treated her less than she deserved. Her love and loyalty to Henry was unshakable, so the reader does not see much of the despotic Henry. Impressive is Louise’s strong sense of her Black beauty, which she also instills in her daughters. Do not miss this historically rich book of a remarkable Black woman who should not disappear from history.

Janice Ottersberg
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I have enjoyed the author's books for a while, and while I have read and enjoyed them, I think this one might be her best and my favorite, I knew nothing about this powerful woman until I read this book, and the author brought her life to the forefront.  She went through a lot of challenging things and did not buckle.  I cannot fathom nor imagine dealing with what she had to deal with and did it with grace and confidence.  This shows the strength, tenacity and Intelligence of black women that is sometimes not shown or accepted.  And let's not forget the historical aspect of the story of a woman who has not gotten the recognition she probably should have.  This was such a timely, well written and well researched story.
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This book gave me Beverly Jenkins vibes. It was so well written that I was sad it was over. She has become one of my favorite authors this summer.
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Queen of Exiles, which takes place in the 1800s, is a rich look at a woman I’d never heard of—the first and only queen of Haiti, Marie-Louise Christophe. Marie was married to Haiti’s first king, Henry 1, who was an interesting character as well. The two loved each other deeply but struggled under the pressure of establishing a royal rule and Henry’s mental illness.

Author Vanessa Riley did a great job of depicting an intelligent, strong, vibrant woman who was up against some major obstacles—her race, her sex, and often her own husband. She painted a woman who desperately loved her family and her people and who had definite opinions about both.

Being a fan of Bridgerton, I was fascinated by the fact of Black royalty. Henry felt strongly that he needed to model a society based on Europe’s to gain world-wide respect. The unfortunate truth was that prejudice rarely abated despite the Christophes’ wealth, intelligence, and comportment. 

Themes of prejudice, family ties and obligations, marriage, motherhood, rebuilding a life, the purpose of wealth, and what it means to be a woman with a mind of her own who is forced to keep her behavior in line with her husband’s and society’s opinions.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an advanced review copy of Queen of Exiles.
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A fascinating novel on the story of the only Queen of Haiti, Marie-Louise Coidavid who became Queen when her husband Henry I became King of Haiti after the Haitian Revolution.  We follow Queen Louise starting in London in 1821 with her two daughters and one man servant and one female servant where she discovers the jewels she was able to sneak out of Haiti had been stolen—jewels that were necessary to help provide housing and a lifestyle fit for royalty.  After reclaiming most of  her jewels and the money that was owed to her she continues to live and follow other royalty as they sought the warmer climates in Europe in winter.  The story is composed of chapters with the date and place they would travel keeping in mind they were always in search of a place where her younger daughter could overcome her illness.  This was a bit difficult to follow with different time periods.  How she and her daughter had to escape Haiti appears in one of these chapters.  Vanessa Riley has thoroughly researched the life and time of this brave Black woman and I completely enjoyed her Afterword and Bibliography.  A book that is deserving to be read for its historical importance.  Thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for an ARC of this book; this is my honest review.
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The Glimmer of Gems

Vanessa Riley explores the historical landscape of 1800’s Hayti, to tell the indomitable story of Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid. The story of the Queen of Exiles begins in 1821, as Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid flees with her two daughters to England after the Haitian Revolution. In fear of her future, Louise holds on to her dignity and strength to overcome the many prejudices facing black women during her time. 

Louise reflects on the many remarkable events of her life, often skipping through time. The reader follows Louise’s train-of-thought as she contemplates her past life as it affects her future. Vanessa Riley’s attention to the details of Louisa’s family and history, give depth to an otherwise quiet narrative. As Louise is an introspective woman. Throughout the book there are snippets of newspaper clippings. Each covering Louise’s life from 1811, the year before she is crowned queen, through 1847. This is a story of how Louise struggles to comes to terms with the loss of her family, as the freedom of Hayti is lost. As well as her current struggle to share her story with the newspaper reporter David Michelson. 

Louise is described as “unassuming and composed,” but she is more than just that. She is wise to the events that shaped her life, loyal to her husband and country, a loving mother, and enduring woman. Vanessa Riley writes about Louise’s strong heart, as she seeks to be worthy of Hayti, and those who rely on her. From beginning to end, through all of her struggles, Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid is an inspiring woman. With a story that should be known, and shared.
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Family First

Queen of Exiles had a slow start with, over 50 characters making it a slow read.
Haiti has had only one Queen we know her as  Queen Marie-Louise Coidavid-Melgrim Christophe. 
As the Haitian  Revolution  is coming to an end Marie and her daughters were exiled, only to live as Royals all over Europe.  No matter the obstacles place in front of them they never gave up.
I enjoyed reading about Baden-Baden, Germany where we were once stationed back in the 60's.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this historical functional account of  Marie-Louise Christophe who ruled over Haiti. Freedom is not easy to come by or to maintain, and in this account we see the struggles of the people who are besieged with debt and indifference. The real hero/heroine is, of course, Louise. 
The author did an excellent job in presenting this original and historically sound story. I recommend it for your reading pleasure.
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This is the first book of Vanessa Riley's that I was unable to finish. 
The beginning of the book did not hold my interest, therefore I could not gain momentum to continue reading it.
I was hoping that it would pick up within the first 100 pages, however it did not and I gave up.

I am sure others will love this book and I hope that they do.

I am looking forward to Ms. Riley's next book in the future.
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Early 1800's Haiti was a self-declared kingdom after defeating the French in a battle for the island which wanted to be a non-slave trading kingdom. King Henry and Queen Louise were the island's leaders for this short-lived kingdom. We see the rise to this kingdom and  the royal era as well as the exile of the queen and her daughters who lived in England (who was helped by William Wilberforce), Germany and finally in Italy. She was beloved by many and kept up with her homeland through the newspapers and her sisters who continued to visit her. 

Although Vanessa Riley's writing is beautiful, the book felt too long to me. I was fascinated to learn a piece of history I had never known anything about and it kept me returning to the internet to find out more, see images of the king and queen, and videos from historians who traced her life in Europe.

My thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins for an advanced copy of this e-book.
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