Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: "Enemies of Versailles" by Sally Christie

Long time, no see folks! I thought it was worth coming out of hibernation to review the final installment Sally Christie’s Versailles Trilogy. Enemies of Versailles focuses on the last of Louis XV’s mistresses, Jeanne de Becu, Comtesse du Barry. Jeanne often gets a bad rap in history as she was a courtesan before becoming Louis’ Maitress en Titre. She was frequently called a whore and was considered grasping and flashy.

Enemies features Christie’s compelling and refreshingly humorous voice. I will admit that this last installment is not quite as compelling as the two previous entries. I believe this is because the novel is comprised only of Jeanne’s point of view as well as Madame Adelaide, Louis’ oldest surviving daughter. Nonetheless, it is still an enjoyable read.
Christie’s portrayal of Jeanne is much more forgiving, which is what makes her such a wonderful author. It is hard to make a reviled character likeable, yet it is easy to warm up to Jeanne. She was simple person who enjoyed the finer things in life. She rarely engages in politics.

The same cannot be said of Madame Adelaide. Nothing is likeable about her character, although her ability to remain completely blinkered to the outside world is amusing at times. She does undergo a bit of a redemption towards the end of the book as she realizes that infallibility and royalty are not the same thing.

History tells us that Jeanne de Becu did not have an easy end. While Louis XV’s remaining daughters escaped France at the beginning of the Revolution, Jeanne was not so lucky, and unfortunately we are with her right up to the very end. Her death was an unfortunate consequence of the overzealous Revolutionaries.

Enemies of Versailles is a fitting capstone on this excellent trilogy. Christie’s wit is fully on display while still capturing the upheaval of the last years of the Ancient Regime. I’ve read that Christie is hard at work on a new novel; I, for one, cannot wait to see the finished product! 

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