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.