Series: The Mistresses of Versailles #3
Published by Atria Books on March 21, 2017
Genres: History, Fiction
In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades suffering the King's endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches inevitable revolution.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for THE ENEMIES OF VERSAILLES by Sally Christie. This is a series I’ve really enjoyed, so I’m happy I had the chance to be on the blog tour for the last book. The blog tour is hosted by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and you can visit the rest of the stops here. After my review, there’s a tour-wide giveaway.
The Mistresses of Versailles is a trilogy I’ve been recommending to anyone I know with an interest in historical fiction, especially fiction about French royalty. Most of the French historical fiction I’ve read centers on Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette or Napoleon. This is the first series I can remember reading that dives into Louis XV and the remarkable list of women and mistresses in his life. Looking at history, the build up to the French Revolution, the problems in the country, and Louis’s own problems through the lens of his mistresses and their relationships with him — it’s good reading.
THE ENEMIES OF VERSAILLES follows the end of Louis XV’s reign through the eyes of two women in his life: Jeanne Bécu, the Comtesse du Barry and Marie Adélaïde, one of his daughters. Jeanne was the first prostitute to be raised to maîtresse-en-titre. Previously, I’d only seen her in fiction through the eyes of Marie Antoinette; the two had a contentious relationship. So it was refreshing to see Jeanne in her own words, so to speak, rather than through the eyes of a teenager who was led to hate Jeanne for her low birth and the influence she had on the king.
The same thing with Adélaïde — I’d only ever seen her as the stern, spinster aunt, more concerned with etiquette than anything else. There’s a lot of that Adélaïde here, but I understood more about her and why she was so set on proper behavior, thanks to the author writing from her viewpoint. Adélaïde’s story is quite tragic really, and I appreciated the chance to see inside Versailles from such different perspectives.
Jeanne and Adélaïde both want the same thing: to make the king happy. But they go about it in vastly different ways, with Jeanne actually providing happiness and Adélaïde failing miserably because she tries to safeguard what little is left of her father’s virtue. As the women age, Adélaïde’s evolution from royal to citizen reminded me of the Marquise de Pompadour’s evolution from bourgeois to marquise.
If you haven’t read the other books in the series, and say you’re interested in Jeanne or Adélaïde, you can read THE ENEMIES OF VERSAILLES without being lost. I do recommend you read the other two, because I think each volume builds upon the last, both with the women in Louis’s life and the history leading up to the French Revolution. This final volume isn’t escapist as the first two (I compared them to a historical soap opera), but a worthy end to the trilogy. I look forward to see what Sally Christie tackles next!
About the author:
Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.