Adultery, insanity, back-stabbing and blue blood in 18th century Denmark . . . The winner of THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE, Sweden’s AUGUST PRIZE and France’s Best Foreign Book Award
It is the 1760s, the height of the Enlightenment, a time of great promise and transformation across Europe, but in the state of Denmark something is rotten. The young king, Christian VII, is a half-wit. His queen, the English princess Caroline Mathilde, has fallen in love his most trusted advisor, the court physician, Struensee, who is engaged in a bitter ideological battle with the head of the diplomatic corps, Guldberg.
Gulberg, a cold-blooded religious fanatic, is determined too annihilate the Enlightenment ideals – which threaten to improve the lot of the peasantry and to support freedom of the press – that Struensee is introducing to Denmark. Whoever prevails will not only control the king but the nation state. The victor will impress his legacy on the kingdom: either Struensee’s free-thinking principles or the repressive proscriptions of Guldberg.
Enquist’s masterpiece, acclaimed throughout Europe, is a superb examination of the clash between the raptures of love and the certainties of dogma, the torments of the flesh and the enticements of power. It is an unforgettable introduction to a fascinating period in European history.