In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.
The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out 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 bourgeoise 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 14-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 say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour.
Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time.
In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years.
Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Atria Books eBook &
Paperback; 448 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
"If they write a book of my life, long after I am dead, will it be just a litany of one rival after another, until I am finally defeated?"
The Rivals of Versailles is book 2 in The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy. You can read my review for the previous book The Sisters of Versaillies, by clicking on the title. While book 2 works as a standalone novel I recommend going back and starting at the beginning just for the simple fact that it is a good book and this one picks up right where it left off.
Where book one main focus was on the Nesle sisters book 2 is told mostly from the point of view of the Marquee de Pompadour, Jeanne/Reinette. There are a couple other narratives throughout this book but it was hers that I found the most interesting and intriguing. As a young girl she is told by a fortune teller that she would earn the love of the king, which is what she focused her life on.
My knowledge of the French court, especially this time period is very limited making these books all the more interesting. King Louis XV had many mistresses in his life and the author does a wonderful job of describing court life and you can feel the injustices taking place. He isn't portrayed in the best of light which I think was the author's intent. You can feel the tension as the Revolution inches closer.
This is a series that I would recommend to anyone interested in the French court. Enemies of Versailles is the next book in this series which has a March 2017 released date. Fans of French history will enjoy this one.
"Love is a pleasure for season, or friendship last an entire life."