I read Sally Christie's first novel in this series, The Sisters of Versailles, and it gave me a ring-side seat into life at Versailles under King Louis XV. This second book though, The Rivals of Versailles, plunged me straight into the intrigue of the King's most famous mistress, Madame Pompadour.
I really enjoyed this book and had trouble setting it aside for mundane things like work and cooking dinner for my family.
Maybe it helps that I didn't know the book was about Madame Pompadour. At the beginning, she was just Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a middle-class girl at a fair when a fortune-teller predicted that she would some day be the mistress of the king. After that, her entire childhood was spent preparing her for that role.
Like any good historical fiction, the details are exquisite and the reader is swept into the halls of Versailles where women jockey for the king's favor and men use the women like pawns on a chess board to gain the ear of the king.
Jeanne must even resist the king's advances to make sure she can enter Versailles as his mistress rather than just another girl in the string of lovers pleasing the king. And the entire court is appalled that a non-royal woman becomes so powerful.
I won't give away the rest of the story, which some of you might know if you've studied history, but I guarantee that you haven't seen it from this light before.
Here's a snippet of their first encounter:
I wait. And wait. Clouds threaten and an insistent breeze heralds a coming storm. It must not rain. It must not. Please, God. My nerves are frayed as the wind whips the ribbons on my hat. Please, no rain.I enjoyed this novel even more than the first and will give it five stars on Amazon and Goodreads.
Then the sound of hooves to mimic the pounding of my heart. Binet canters out of the forest, followed by another man. That it is the king I have no doubt: his face is at once both wonderful and familiar.
"Sire, might I introduce you? The Comtesse d'Etoilles."
"Madame d'Etiolles," says the king, bringing his horse up alongside my chaise. "So, Binet, this is the doe you thought had come this way." His voice is low and husky, the tone amused. "Delightful."
"Indeed, Sire, this is the lady that is enchanting Paris, as well as these forests."
"And I can see why. A singular beauty," murmurs the king, looking at me with intense dark eyes. I am staring at him with an openmouthed gape. The face I gazed upon constantly...he is even more handsome than his portrait."
Sally Christieon Tour April 5-14 with
The Rivals of Versailles(historical fiction) Release date: April 5, 2016 at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster 448 pages ISBN: 978-1501102998 Website | Goodreads
SYNOPSISIn this scandalous 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. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV’s most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young 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, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King’s heart.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. Learn more about the sisters and the mistresses in the Versailles trilogy on her website Become a fan to hear about her next novels! Visit her Facebook Page Check her Pinterest page
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thanks so much for your wonderful review. so glad you enjoyed it so, we'll see what happens in vol 3! Emma at FBT
Emma, Thanks for including me in the book reviews for The Rivals of Versailles.
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