The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles
ARC, Kindle, 432 pages
September 1, 2015
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received for review as part of TLC Book Tours
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.
French history is an area that my knowledge is considered sketchy at best and what I do know, is primarily Marie Antoinette/Louis XVI and Napoleon. And…that’s about it. Of course I have heard of The Sun King and Louis XV, but I couldn’t tell you much more than their names. So, quite frankly, I had never heard of the Nesle sisters. But let me tell you, if you think The Sun King (Louis XIV) and Charles II of England had interesting mistresses, Louis XV is right up there with them (and if you love reading about their exploits, you will enjoy this book too)!
With five sisters that are all going to have significant leading roles in the novel, they need to each be established as their own identity. Christie does a great job very early on of establishing these ladies as their own people, right from their childhood. And their personalities later on in life were consistent with their childhood lives – which was nice to see the consistency. And I had very decided opinions on ALL of these women: I HATED Pauline the whole time; came to HATE Mary-Anne over time; felt bad for Louise and really wanted her to stop being a push-over; Hortense was so righteous and occasionally got on my nerves; and Diane who was sort of innocent in the hedonistic world of Versailles. I feel like in their own sort of skewed way, these ladies represented a traditional sisterly arrangement (as traditional as you can be when 4 of the 5 sleep with the same man!); they supported each other, fought with each other, and pushed each other out to take on the spotlight. Besides the sisters, we were given a great cast of side characters and you really get to know them, they are not just on the fringes – this includes the Queen, the king’s ministers, some of the other ladies that the women are frenemies with. And don’t forget the King himself! These women represented over a decade of the king’s life and through their window we see the king grow and change through time as he learns from them and also comes into his own after the death of the cardinal.
The plot raced right along, I have nothing to complain about there. The way the story bounces back and forth between the different sisters as narrators keeps it lively and shifts your perspective, which certainly helps move the plot along. Additionally, with a story focused on court intrigue and rivalry between sisters, there is ALWAYS something happening.
I only have one issue with this book…and that is the overuse of the word “sororal”. According to my Kindle, it was used 18 times. Now I don’t normally notice these kinds of things. However, with a word that stands out because it is not normally used in everyday language today, it stands out like a sore thumb. Every time I encountered the word is shook me out of the narrative and actually started to make me angry as I encountered it more and more. I understand that it well describes the sisterly relationship, but a few uses would have been more than enough. Rant over, I’m sorry.
Overall, a wonderful read, and I cannot wait to read the next 2 books in the series (that’s right, 2 more books).
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Sally Christie:
This is the debut novel by Sallie Christie, however, here is what we can look forward to with the rest of this series:
The Rivals of Versailles (Book 2) Coming April 2016
“The Rivals of Versailles continues the story of King Louis XV and his lady loves, this time focusing on the fabulous Madame de Pompadour, a little girl from the middle classes who rose to become the virtual Queen of France. Best of all? Lots of characters from the first book play active roles in this second book (as a writer, I love that - sometimes it’s hard to let characters go!). Madame de Pompadour's voice and story are balanced against a few of her many rivals - as Louis XV continues his descent into pure libertinage, Madame de Pompadour was along for the ride....”
The Enemies of Versailles (Book 3) Coming in 2017
“The third and final book about the mistresses of Louis XV, entitled The Enemies of Versailles, will focus on the fabulous Comtesse du Barry, the last official mistress of Louis XV. She had a hoot of a life, and many fans of Marie Antoinette will be familiar with her - du Barry overlapped with Marie Antoinette for several years at Versailles. I'm planning to balance her voice with that of Madame Adelaide, the King's eldest daughter, and I'm really looking forward to writing history from both their perspectives.”
I have a giveaway to offer readers from the USA and Canada as part of the blog tour!!! It is for one copy of The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie. Entries will be made through the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!! Giveaway ends Sunday September 13th.
Follow the Tour
Sally Christie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, August 17th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, August 18th: The Reading Date
Wednesday, August 19th: Scandalous Women
Wednesday, August 19th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, August 24th: Peeking Between the Pages – Review and “Sister” Bio**
Tuesday, August 25th: Curling Up With A Good Book – “Sister” Bio **
Wednesday, August 26th: Stephanie’s Reviews… 100 Pages a Day
Thursday, August 27th: Historical-Fiction.com
Friday, August 28th: Bibliophilia, Please
Monday, August 31st: The Maiden’s Court
Tuesday, September 1st: Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, September 1st: Books a la Mode – author guest post & giveaway
Wednesday, September 2nd: Life is Story
Thursday, September 3rd: Book Dilettante
Friday, September 4th: Books Without Any Pictures
Monday, September 7th: A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, September 8th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 9th: Read. Write. Repeat.
Thursday, September 10th: Lavish Bookshelf
Friday, September 11th: A Literary Vacation
Monday, September 14th: Ace and Hoser Blog – Review and “Sister” Bio **
Tuesday, September 15th: Living in the Kitchen With Puppies **
Wednesday, September 16th: The Baking Bookworm **
Thursday, September 17th: #redhead.with.book – Review and “Sister” Bio **
Monday, September 21st: Snowdrop Dreams of Books – Review and “Sister” Bio **
Monday, September 28th: Pingwing’s Bookshelf **
** denotes Canadian bloggers
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