Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: "The Sisters of Versailles" by Sally Christie


 Synopsis:  A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best foot – and women – forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood; of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

My Thoughts:  I love reading about the happenings at Versailles!  I found the The Sisters of Versailles to be an intriguing read because it focuses on historical characters that are completely new to me.  I was actually kind of surprised that such a 'scandalous' group of women had fallen into a sort of obscurity. 

It was fascinating to me that four sisters could be mistresses to the same king especially because they were all so different.  They're personalities were polar opposites and the way the treated the king was so different that I couldn't believe that he was interested in all of them.  I will be honest, all of their personalities were a little over the top to me.  Diane was completely ridiculous.  I liked Louise the best and felt the most sympathetic toward her.  I can't imagine what it must have been like for her to watch her sisters take her place with the king when she was truly in love with him.  I was also sympathetic towards Hortense; she was the only sister who didn't become the king's lover and that seemed to automatically separate her from her sisters.Pauline and Marie-Anne were pretty hateful; they were good villains but really impossible to like. 

I did like seeing a 'behind the scenes' view of Versailles.  There was so much ceremony and intrigue going on; it was like a veritable soap opera.  Ms. Christie's descriptions of the rooms at Versailles as well as the clothing were amazing.  She did a great job of setting the scene for the Nesle sisters' story.  Overall, this was an interesting look at a unique group of women. 3 stars.

I received a copy of this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

 

I’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.



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