What perfect timing that I get to be a part of this blog tour during Paris Month! I had the pleasure of chatting with Sally Christie last summer at our Book Blog Ontario meet-up when her first novel (and the first in The Mistresses of Versailles series) was out. The Sisters of Versailles begins this historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV and his mistresses, four of them sisters. In The Rivals of Versailles, it continues with the scandalous comings and goings of Court life.
Following my review of this second installment of the series, I have included an excerpt from the first chapter of this intrigue-filled book.
When Jeanne Poisson was a child, a gypsy fortune teller told her that she would become the king’s lover. From that moment on, her family worked all the connections they could to put her on that path to fulfill her destiny. In 1745, when King Louis XV’s latest mistress is gone, it paves the way for Jeanne to capture the King’s attention. While her power grows, her popularity continues to stagnate. All those at Court believe the King deserves better than a bourgeois mistress and Jeanne finds herself constantly fending off adversaries and those that threaten what she and the King have.
Reminiscent of Philippa Gregory’s books, The Rivals of Versailles was a wonderful work of historical fiction, shedding insight and context to someone who not everyone may have known much about. I had loved The Other Boleyn Girl and the rest of the books in The Tudor Court series so I was sure that I would enjoy Christie’s series as well. It had been a while since I read much historical fiction and this completely reminded me of my love of this genre.
Full disclosure, perhaps it’s due to the series’ jewel-toned book covers (which I adore), I did initially think this was a YA series before picking it up – which it definitely is not! I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised as the book is about a King and his mistresses in the 1700s. What did surprise, and sadden, me was how young some of the girls were. There was definitely some uncomfortable reading at times.
We often associate Versailles with Marie Antoinette, so this was interesting to read about the decades prior to her existence. The narrative is mostly from the point of view of Jeanne as she develops from a naive middle class girl to a powerful woman in Court, holding the love and respect of the King. I found it both fascinating – and frustrating – to see the lengths at which people will go to win favour and get their way. There is so much backstabbing and manipulation that, for lack of a more relevant example, it’s like a reality show you can’t turn away from.
I, admittedly, am actually reading this out of order, and while I obviously think it makes sense to read Sisters first, I don’t believe it to hinder the enjoyment of Rivals whatsoever. The King and some other characters may cross over, but what goes on with the girls in each book are separate stories. The third and final book in the trilogy, The Enemies of Versailles is due out later this year and I cannot wait!
Intrigued? Check out an excerpt from the first chapter of The Rivals of Versailles!