Sep 3, 2015

Book Review/Tour: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie, published September 1, 2015 by Atria Books
Genre: historical fiction

Book description: Carefully researched and detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed. The Sisters of Versailles centers on the (relatively, at least for the genre) overlooked period of early 18th century France. 

The reign of Louis XV (1715 – 1774) a time of increasing social turbulence and change that sets the stage neatly for the French Revolution that follows. 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.

Telling the story of 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. (publisher)

My comments: Reading about the four sisters who were enticed, cajoled or manipulated into becoming their king's mistresses in 18th century France was not a glamorous or exciting read for me. I was distressed at the history of these women and disturbed by the machinations of the people at court who seemed to control both king and the people around him.

Kudos to Sally Christie for her intricate research and for bringing these women in history to light. They were not total victims, but seemed to participate vigorously in the whole elaborate process.  It does help us to understand  how social and political conditions led up to the French Revolution that was to come.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a review ARC of this book. For other reviews of The Sisters of Versailles, visit the tour schedule

Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it.
Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment.
When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic.

Sep 1, 2015

Book Feature and Giveaway: THE GILDED HOUR by Sara Donati

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read.

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati, published September 1, 2015 by Berkley....
First paragraph, first chapter:
Early on a March morning on the cusp of spring, Anna Savard came in from the garden to find a young woman with a message that would test her patience, disrupt her day, and send her off on an unexpected journey: a harbinger of change wearing the nursing habit of the Sisters of Charity, standing in the middle of the kitchen.
Book description:

"... a remarkable epic about two female doctors in nineteenth-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and love.
The year is 1883 in New York City, a time of dizzying splendor, crushing poverty, and tremendous change. With the gravity-defying Brooklyn Bridge nearly complete and New York in the grips of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie—both graduates of the Woman’s Medical School—treat the city’s most vulnerable.

Anna's work has placed her in the path of four children who have lost everything. For Sophie, an obstetrician and the orphaned daughter of free people of color, helping a desperate young mother ...thrusts her and Anna into the orbit of Anthony Comstock, a dangerous man who considers himself the enemy of everything indecent and of anyone who dares to defy him.
With its vivid depictions of old New York and its appealing characters, The Gilded Hour is an emotionally gripping novel by the author of Into the Wilderness." (goodreads)

The publisher is offering a copy of the book to a U.S. resident in a giveaway on this blog.
To enter, please email Harvee Lau at by September 5, 2015, with the heading GILDED GIVEAWAY. 

A winner will be chosen at random and notified by email on Sept. 6 with a request to forward a mailing address. A new winner will be chosen on Sept. 8 if there is no reply. Good luck!

Aug 30, 2015

Sunday Salon: A Variety of Books

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday.

I missed the giant moon last night, though we saw it Friday night. It's overcast here. Hope you got a chance to see it.

Got a few new books and proofs 

Two Dogs and a Parrot by Joan Chittister, published by BlueBridge

Crooked River by Valerie Geary, published by William Morrow Paperbacks

Embracing the Seasons: Memories of a Country Garden by Gunilla Norris, published by BlueBridge

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati, published by Berkley....two female doctors in nineteenth-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and love…

Murder in Megara by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, Poisoned Pen Press

Everyone Has Their Reasons by Joseph Matthews, PM Press

Nondual, audio CD of music by Kirtan Rabbi (artist)

What's on your reading desk this end of August?

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