Publication Date: April 5, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 448 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
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 bourgeoise 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 14-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 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 king, and her role in shaping a nation.
THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES by Sally Christie is the second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy and is as excellent as the first book, perhaps better! While the first book is told through the voices of five sisters, book two is almost all Jeanne Poisson- Reinette – the Marquise de Pompadour. We do hear briefly from other women in the second half, though.
In this sizzling and vivid novel, Christie writes of Versailles exactly as it should be written – with lots of sex, romance, and politics. It kept me intrigued from the start as others tried to take the king’s attention away from Reinette and as we were introduced to the first murmurings of the French Revolution. Reinette is a sympathetic character and though influence and power were driving forces in her life at court, what she really wanted more than anything was to be loved. Nearly all the choices she made came back to that. Despite the sadness she endured, she was a delight and always charming.
With witty dialogue that brings history to life on the pages, I give THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES 5 stars *****. (And, I can’t wait until book three is published!)
I’m a life-long history buff – and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I’d been writing (“writing”) ever since I was able to hold a pencil.
If you’d told my 12-year old self that I’d not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I’ve finally come full circle to where I think I should be.
I currently live in Toronto and when I’m not writing, I’m playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang).
Monday, May 2
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, May 3
Interview at The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, May 5
Review at Bookish
Friday, May 6
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Tuesday, May 10
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 11
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, May 13
Review at #redhead.with.book