Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: Sally Christie's "The Sisters of Versailles"

Hello dear readers!

Today I bring you a review of Sally Christie's upcoming novel, "The Sisters of Versailles". I was immediately excited upon sighting the novel on Netgalley and I was not disappointed. Christie explores the previously neglected reign of Louis XV and the result is nothing short of page turning.

This fascinating fictional (but still accurate) account takes on the lives of the notorious Mailly-Nesle. The five sisters--Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne were brought up in the shadow of Versailles and expected to marry well. Instead, four of them become royal mistresses. Louise is the first to go to Versailles and capture the heart of King Louis VX. Naive and pure of heart, Louise is Louis's first documented mistress, but her unaffected ways and sweet spirit are overthrown by the arrival of Pauline. Described in the novel as "a force of nature", Pauline is determined to seduce the king and make a name for herself. The two sisters co-exist in a strange menage trois until Pauline's death leaves a void. Then Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne arrive on the scene, but it is the youngest Mailly-Nesle sister who impacts the king in ways previously not seen. Marie-Anne is determined to use her position to live the good life, but there are always sacrifices and consequences.

Louis XV's fascination with the Mailly-Nesle sisters was certainly a unique situation and one that has been surprisingly unexplored in the past. Sally Christie brings all five sisters to life, alternating each chapter with a new voice and view. The fact that each sister's voice is distinct is clear evidence of Christie's talents as a writer. The reader in turns will find themselves laughing with, rolling their eyes at, or downright hating the sisters. This lovely novel is not to be missed! There were many nights that I stayed awake long past my bedtime because I didn't want to put it down. It hits bookshelves on September 1, 2015 and can be pre-ordered through Amazon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Marci Jefferson's "Enchantress of Paris"

"Enchantress of Paris" details the rise and fall of Marie Mancini, niece of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin and possible true love of Louis XIV. Destined for convent, the willful and clever Marie strikes out on her own after catching the eye of the young Louis. Her uncle seeks to use her to control the king, but Marie sees Louis as more than a pawn. Their love electrifies the court, but as time comes for Louis to wed, Marie must outwit her uncle in an attempt to forge her own destiny.

"Enchantress of Paris" is similar to Marci Jefferson's debut novel "Girl on the Golden Coin" in that it details the life of a king's mistress. Pitted against forces larger than herself, Marie is determined to outfox the horoscope cast by her astrologer father and live her life happily. She is bold and cunning, but not without heart. The love she has for the king forces her to do the wise thing but not without consequences to herself and those around her. She is ultimately defeated by her uncle--she loses the battle, but not perhaps not the war as she goes on to live a scandalous but full life.

The characters are well drawn; Marie sparkles with vibrancy while Louis is young and all too trusting--truly the man before he becomes the great Sun King. Cardinal Mazarin is perfectly wicked while a host of other characters manage to carry their own plot points. The pacing starts to lag towards the end as Marie and Louis struggle in vain to be together, but character investment at that point spurs the reader on.

Marci Jefferson brings 17th century France to life in "Enchantress of Paris"; lovers of historical fiction will enjoy this new novel.