The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
S E R I E S: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy (Nº 1)
A U T H O R: Sally Christie
P U B L I S H E R: Atria Books
P U B L I S H--D A T E: September 1, 2015
I S B N: 9781501102967
Historical Fiction, Woman’s FictionA 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, naïve 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.
I must confess that I do not read many books on the French Court because I prefer the history of Ireland, Scotland, and England. However, I do love court politics. I find it quite fascinating that people got away with some of the things they did just to gain favor from the ruling monarch, even family members. So, when I read this description I was intrigued even though it was about the French court. I didn’t know that the Nesle sisters even existed, but then to find that they were real and that four of the five were mistresses of King Louis XV was pretty interesting. Just goes to show that sometimes life can really be stranger than fiction or, in this case, a bit of both.
The book held my interest from beginning to end for the simple fact that these characters were based on real women in 18th century France. They were well researched and I felt the author did a great job of developing them to be believable. She brought the French court and all of its dealings to life. However, what I didn’t like was the fact that it kept changing points of view. It is told in first person, but each chapter is told by a different sister and kept alternating between them. It had me thinking it would have been interesting for each sister to have her own book. Though, I didn’t care for the changing points of view, I still felt it was well written and I did like the story very much. I found it quite entertaining from beginning to end. I would recommend this story to those that like historical fiction but are looking for characters that have not been written about in the past.