The Enemies of Versailles
Book 3, The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy - A Novel
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In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.
It was an interesting, if foregone, conclusion in the revolution but the journey was more than worth
This third book brings us into the latter years of Louis XV’s life, and the perspective in this story is provided by his daughter, Adelaide. Unusual for the court (although not, perhaps, for the women of the day) Adelaide is prim, proper, uptight and perhaps more than a bit resentful of those who choose or dare to be otherwise.
What I adore about this series, and this book, is Christie’s ability to present facts mingled with fiction in voices that are far from the normal speakers of history. Granted, each narrative voice has an agenda from minor and wanting to be heard, to elevating or preserving their own position in the court. While you never really come to the story thinking “this is only from X perspective, now that the series has come to conclusion, it is easy to see just how well-planned the narrative voices were.
None of the views present Louis as more than a spoilt child, more concerned with pleasures and lazy days fueling his hedonistic desires than fairly, or even halfheartedly, ruling his country. Most of the rule of Louis was performed by those interested in feathering their own nests, with cognizant or callous acquiescence of the king himself. Adelaide is different, seeking to persuade her father to reform and reframe at least the end of his reign in more than licentious behavior and bone-idle luxury. To no avail, his mistress Jeanne Becu is far more interesting than his daughter’s imprecations and constant questions.
While the narrators of this series are not people I would want to spend time with, it is obvious that they had brains and talents, and even outlooks that were surprisingly astute: were they men in the era, they would have ruled, perhaps not to a different end than the bloody revolution, but perhaps been cognizant of the unrest and anger fermenting in their people. It was an interesting, if foregone, conclusion in the revolution but the journey was more than worth the time.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
- Category: Historical
- Published: Mar 21, 2017
- Publisher: Atria Books
- Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
- Print Length: 416 Pages
- Language: English
- Series: Book 3, The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy