Monday, May 2, 2016

Review: "Rivals of Versailles" by Sally Christie


The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie

Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Atria Books
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.

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The Mistresses of Versailles Series

About the Author

Sally ChristieI'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). For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.

Blog Tour Schedule

Sunday, May 1 Review at A Book Drunkard Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past Monday, May 2 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes Tuesday, May 3 Interview at The Maiden's Court Wednesday, May 4 Review at To Read or Not to Read Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at History Undressed Thursday, May 5 Review at Bookish Friday, May 6 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective Monday, May 9 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Guest Post at Tuesday, May 10 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews Wednesday, May 11 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Thursday, May 12 Review at The Lit Bitch Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Friday, May 13 Review at Sunday, May 15 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession

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Hello all and welcome to an early edition of Review Tuesday! Today I'm very stoked to present my review for Sally Christie's latest novel, Rivals of Versailles. If you remember, I reviewed Sisters of Versailles last year and LOVED it.Rivals of Versailles is the next volume in the trilogy about the mistresses of Louis XV. I will admit that the beginning of Rivals didn't quite grab me. The novel mostly focuses on Jeanne Poisson, the woman who would become Madame Pompadour. The first section is told from the first person perspective and I initially found Jeanne a bit dull. But as the novel moved along, being told alternatively by the many minor mistresses that Louis XV had, Jeanne's character becomes more fleshed out. By the end of the novel, I was quite attached to her and even shed a tear or two. She was really a remarkable woman and though time and experience taught her to not trust anyone, she never became cruel or despicable. I think this was evidenced by her eventual friendship with Marie LeszczyƄska, Louis's much put upon queen.

The many mistresses that followed in Jeanne's wake are all perfectly characterized. Rosalie was much like Pauline de Mailly-Nesle from Sisters of Versailles, so basically, not very sympathetic but so outrageous you wanted to see what she would do next. La Morphise was refreshingly simple and I found myself pitying her though after researching her a bit, she ended up all right. The second Marie Anne de Mailly (Marquise de Coislin) is outright hilarious--I was laughing so hard the hubby was questioning me why.

The slow descent of Louis XV into depravity is well done--you actually feel sorry for the poor man even though he did not deserve Jeanne's devotion. Their relationship is co-dependent in the extreme and yet Jeanne lived in constant fear of being discarded. It is no wonder she died early after the years of intrigue and dealing with stress.

All in all, Rivals of Versailles is an excellent book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is wonderful to read historical fiction that covers real people, especially ones that are semi-famous and yet have very little fiction centered on them. I definitely recommend that you pick up a copy. Further information about the book and the characters can be found on Sally Christie's website. The final volume in the trilogy Enemies of Versailles will follow Jeanne de Becu, Comtesse du Barry and will be available in November. I can't wait!

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