I received a free copy of The Rivals of Versailles from TLC Book Tours for my honest review.
About the Book:
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (April 5, 2016)
And you thought sisters were a thing to fear! In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.
The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms.
All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.
Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe: history books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time.
In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a kind, and her role in shaping a nation.
Told in Christie’s witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.
About the Author:
Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it.
Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment.
When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic.
Connect with Sally
This is the second book in the Mistresses of Versailles series. It can easily stand alone but like any series the experience is always a bit better when you’ve read the beginning. This book picks up after Louis XV has worked his way through the Nesle sisters and now is seeking a new mistress. He meets a commoner, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson and the course of both of their lives will soon change. She will become one of the most powerful women in France and will help guide and advise Louis. She will become the Marquise de Pompadour.
The book tells her story from her humble beginnings to the pivotal moment when a fortune teller shares the story that she will be at the side of a King and she is given the nickname Reinette or little queen. From that point on Jeanne focuses on achieving the future seen for her. When she finally does catch the eye of the King her ascendance is not assured and her ability to stay there is a constant battle. She used her intelligence and her wits to stay at the side of the King despite her many detractors and critics. When she could no longer share his bed she found replacements.
This book was a very interesting read. I didn’t know much about Madame Pompadour and I feel I have a better feeling for her at this point. I’m not sure I like her. I’m not sure she was good for France. Louis was most certainly depraved at best and a child molester at the least. They did spend money like drunken sailors and had no concept of what it was like for anyone out of their class. No wonder the country rose up in rebellion. But politics aside the book is very well written and a fascinating study in what a woman will do to stay in power and close to a man she purports to love. Whether she loved the man, the money or the power I don’t know. Perhaps the man for a bit but I can’t imagine he was easy to love.
I am looking forward to the third and final installment of the series. I am sure it will end with a bang.