The Sisters of Versailles
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release date: September 1, 2015
Atria Book/Simon & Schuster
Website | Goodreads
A 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.
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 feet—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, she and her sisters—ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.
The Sisters of Versailles is a treat through and through – the characters are witty and engaging and come together to create an undeniable page-turner. Sally Christie has a wonderful sense of pace and the book unfolds in front of you like a delicious gift. Even as the scandals pile up and the intrigue mounts, you can’t help but fall in love with these sisters and their competing infatuations with the King.
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.
There is a gif from Sofia Coppola’s film where Marie Antoinette says, “This is ridiculous.” And a woman replies, “This, madame, is Versailles.” While I was reading, that was definitely playing in my mind. Versailles is ridiculous…and amazing, The rules, the fashion, the people, the scandal. Everything in excess…and even though Louis XV is trying his besst to remain loyal to his wife, the courtiers have other plans for him. I can only wonder if he knew that one of the Nesle sisters would lead to bedding the other three. Thiers is a story one has to read to believe. I had never heard of Louise, Pauline, Hortense, Marie-Anne and Diane Nesle. I can’t imagine a better introduction than the one that Ms. Christie has brought here.
Each sister is so different, Louise is naive, always attempting to try and paint things as being perfectly fine and lovely, not wanting to burden anyone with the truth or if something is bothering her. She is the mistress who asks nothing of Louis, not wanting to be politically active or in riches. Pauline is an ambitious, power hungry tyrant, which even her sisters dislike her for. She is quite the opposite of Louise. Diane seems to be simple, but really, she’s rather clever and people underestimate her. And then there was Marie-Anne who hated Pauline but was the most like her. If Louis liked variety, he certainly got it in the Nesle sisters. Hortense was the only one not to become his mistress and one wonders if she got lucky in that way.
Spoiler: I think what happened to Pauline was well deserved. I wish it had happened to Marie-Anne…but I was pleased with what did happen to her. I detested both of them. Diane was my favorite.
Louis XV, also known as the well beloved, was not the best in decision making, something that his courtiers knew and did their best to influence what he would do. His advisers essentially ruled but it was he who was King. I was struck by his carelessness to the common people–really, all of them were pretty horrible in their thoughts of the common people. I truly understood why there was a revolution, however, that it took so long to happen was rather aweinspiring. You’ll read and find out, I promise you’ll see what I mean.
The writing was sumptuous and rich…I really couldn’t get enough of it. I felt like I was really there and I lost myself in Versailles, as ridiculous as it were. I know this is the first in a trilogy and I think the next one is about Madame Pompadour, so I really can’t wait for that! Ms. Christie has a fan in me…I can’t wait to read the next books in the series.
Sally Christie was born in England of British parents
and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and is currently settled in Toronto.
A life-long history buff who wishes time travel were a real possibility —she’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!
The Sisters of Versailles is her first novel.
Learn more about the sisters and the mistresses in the Versailles trilogy on her website. Become a fan to hear about her next novels!
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