September 21, 2016

Liked It: The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Format: eGalley
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: Historical | General Fiction

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this compelling follow-up to Sally Christie's clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.

I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.

The way is now clear.

The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.

Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out young Jeanne's destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King's arms.

All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals - including a lustful lady-in-waiting; a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters - she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart.

Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.

ICYMI, Sally Christie's The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy is a dramatization or fictional depiction of some of France's King Louis XV many mistresses (57 in total?). It's a mixed bag of infamous characters and lesser known paramours from the Nesle sisters, a few commoners, and in this installment, the high profile Madame Pompadour, who during her time was considered one of the most influential females in Europe alongside Russia's Catherine The Great. 

I've become acquainted with Madame Pompadour when I read Eleanor Herman's (yes, THAT Eleanor Herman who penned the bestselling YA series Blood of Gods & Royals), Sex with Kings. Madame Pompadour seemed like a force to be reckoned with as she had the King's ears, loyalty, and respect long after they stopped sleeping together. Needless to say, I'm both curious and excited to read SChristie's account of how the affair was probably like and how Madame Pompadour was as a mistress and the unofficial Queen of France for a decade.

SChristie's The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy, though fiction, are based on historical accounts, countless letters, and anecdotes so there's a grain of truth in the novels. THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES, like the previous novel, features a few of Louis XV's mistresses with Madame Pompadour leading the bevy of women. I have to say though that this installment wasn't what I was hoping it would be. It's told more than it showed. I was hoping to get a glimpse of how Madame Pompadour kept the King's attention long after they stopped sharing a bed together. She's described as sweet but shrewd, kind yet cunning, charitable but vindictive. However THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES leaned more towards Madame Pompadour's virtues and is a little remiss in showing us her darker side like did she throw tantrums? What ammo does she have with the King that he kept choosing her over most everyone? How brilliant is she as a politician that King Louis XV listened to her counsel when she's a woman and a commoner at that? 

Yet in spite of these, I still find THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES entertaining, scandalous, and intriguing. I love the anecdotes, the gossip, the trivial bits, the atmospheric setting, and the rivalries. I look forward to reading the final installment, The Enemies of Versailles (2017), to be headlined by yet another infamous mistress, Madame du Barry.

Talk Supe


  1. What an interesting series, B. I've not heard of this one but since my old pal Henry didn't really float my boat, I'm really all that surprised at all. Great review!

  2. I have Sex with Kings sitting on my physical shelf but haven't made time for it. I love this time in history...what does that say about me? (us?) This book had caught my eye - I'm fascinated by historical women and the power they held. I'm glad you were entertained, my friend. ;)

  3. This sounds like an intriguing series! I'm glad you enjoyed this, even if it didn't quite explore all the facets of Madame Pompadour's character as you'd hoped.

  4. Hi Braine, looks like an interesting read. I love it when historical fiction is based on facts. I wish I could have learned history this way :)

  5. Not really my kind of thing but I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  6. I love the reads that can combine the fact with the fiction.

  7. I'm gonna wait until this trilogy is finished before I start. I have the first book on my shelf to read but I'm waiting. I love me some historical scandals!

  8. Probably not the book for me but I enjoyed your review of it.

  9. Hmmm... I am interested in the characters and all that, but I struggle with historical books that take too many liberties turning them into fiction. I like them to stay true to what really happened.

  10. Oh yes this would be interesting to read

  11. I've read a couple books where Madame Pompadour played a side roll and got curious about her. This series does sound intriguing.

  12. Hitorical books are not my Thing, but I'm glad this wasn't all bad for you :)

  13. I don't think I've read anything before featuring Madame Pompadour but what an fascinating HR! Yay for entertaining, scandalous, and intriguing :)

  14. 57 mistresses? This sounds interesting. I am familiar with Madame Pompadour but it would be interesting to learn about them.

  15. Oh how interesting! I don't read this genre often, but I'm curious abut this.

  16. This is my first time hearing about this series, but I can imagine all the scandalous stories!

  17. Oh this sounds like a fun series. love a book that takes tiny bits of truth and turns it into a whole story. Great review!

  18. That's interesting that there is a grain of truth in this novel even though it's fiction. Too bad there was too much telling instead of showing and it wasn't quite what you hoped for. great review!


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