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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie
Book 2 in The Mistresses of Versailles Series
ARC, e-book, 448 pages
Atria Books
April 5, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for Review for TLC Book Tour
I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.
The way is now clear. 
The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.
Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young 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 bourgeois 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 fourteen-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 may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart. 
Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.
The second book in this enthralling series set in the court of Louis XV continues the trip down the path of mistresses left in his wake, however it focuses primarily on his notable mistress the Marquise de Pompadour. As the title suggests, this novel is all about rivalry. Pompadour is the primary mistress during this time, but she faces the daily threat brought on by the “little birds” that flit in and out of Versailles and the king’s bedroom with sometimes alarming speed. Louis had many more mistresses than the three rivals that Pompadour faces here, but these ladies offered the most significant threats to her tenure at Versailles. There is a certain amount of overlapping events referenced here that presented themselves in The Sisters of Versailles, because the sisters were the King’s mistresses while Pompadour was just plain Jeanne and coming into her own. I thought this was an excellent way to tie the two novels together just enough without being overkill.

I found Pompadour to be a sympathetic character in this novel – she is set in the path of the King by her scheming family, deeply cares for him, but finds herself facing endless intrigue in her attempts to not be tossed out when the King’s mood changes. This certainly led to some high drama. I didn’t care for any of his other mistresses; every time they were presented I looked to what Pompadour would do to hang on to her position.

Similar to The Sisters of Versailles, not all the chapters are told by the same person, but a variety of the mistresses – but the format was different here and I didn’t like it quite as much. Roughly the first half of the book is told from the perspective of Pompadour, so when the next chapter suddenly switched perspectives to that of a new incoming mistress, it threw me off because that hadn’t been the case for a significant portion of the novel. Essentially, once the new mistresses begin to become rivals to Pompadour they get their own sections and then during the interlude periods between those rivals it reverts back to Pompadour. While I totally understand the rationale for this, to show the view of Pompadour from the perspective of the rivals, and ultimately appreciated the shifts in perspective, it was very jarring to begin this practice at such a depth into the novel.

Despite being 448 pages I wanted just a little bit more – and that would be at the beginning and the end of the novel. Both of these sections I feel were just a little too short for my liking. I did not feel like I got to know Jeanne enough before she became Pompadour and mistress to the King, which made it slightly more difficult to connect with her in the early pages. Additionally, it very quickly draws to an end following the departure of Mary-Anne (another relative of the Nesle sisters). I wanted just a little more resolution for Pompadour.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Rivals of Versailles; it meets the acclaim that I gave to the first in the series and I look forward to what will come in book 3, The Enemies of Versailles about the Comtesse du Berry

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Sally Christie:

The Sisters of Versailles (Book 1)
[My Review]

The Enemies of Versailles (Book 3) Coming in 2017

Find Sally Christie:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads |Pinterest

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Monday, April 4th: Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, April 5th: Let Them Read Books

Friday, April 8th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, April 11th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, April 12th: Books Without Any Pictures

Thursday, April 14th: BookNAround

Thursday, April 14th: Worth Getting In Bed For

Friday, April 15th: A Chick Who Reads

Friday, April 15th: Bewitched Bookworms

Monday, April 18th: A Literary Vacation

Monday, April 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, April 19th: Historical-Fiction.com

Wednesday, April 20th: Raven Haired Girl

Thursday, April 21st: The Maiden’s Court

Friday, April 22nd: A Bookish Affair

Monday, April 25th: Reading Reality

Tuesday, April 26th: Ace and Hoser Blog

Wednesday, April 27th: Dreams, Etc.

Wednesday, April 27th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, April 28th: Mom in Love with Fiction

Friday, April 29th: Books & Tea

Monday, May 2nd: Time 2 Read

TBD: Scandalous Women

TBD: From the TBR Pile


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. Well written as always, Ms Christie breaths life into a time gone by but not forgotten. It's always a pleasure to read a story that not only educates but also entertains. I highly recommend this series and look forward to reading the third book of this trilogy.

    Ketterman Rowland & Westlund Attorneys


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