Like the first book in this series "The Sister's of Versailles",The Rivals of Versailles is filled with letters They act as a little flavor and backstory, and give glimpses of the Marquise during long stretches of her life being told by other women - or girls, more likely. There are also Entr'Actes, windows to the Marquise (then Duchesse) while the others have their stories with the King told. They also serve to place the events of the novel among important events in history where it wouldn't fit to have one of the girls mention the events themselves, given how ignorant Marie-Anne is.
The middle of the novel is told by lesser mistresses of Henry XV, all of whom seek to banish the Marquise and take her spot as chief mistress. Rosalie (Charlotte Rosalie de Choiseul-Beaupré), Morphise (Marie-Louise O'Murphy), and Marie-Anne de Mailly de Coislin all tell their stories sandwiched between the beginning and end of the Marquise's life.
For me, this novel was far better than the first. Sally Christie really put herself to work making these girls seem alive; what's more is these women cannot lean on each other as the de Mailly sisters could for humor in the first novel. They all stand alone, distinct and wonderful. Rosalie as a particularly lecherous girl, Marie-Louise as a steadfast girl in the face of child prostitution, and Marie-Anne as a poor pawn, an empty-headed girl used to advance the desires of others. All of their acts end in a similar fashion - and I won't say what, but you might guess. Each of them, too, shows a different facet of the aging King, and the wit and power of the Marquise de Pompadour, whose entire life and livelihood revolves around Louis XV.
I have just fallen in love with the writing style of Sally and the way she makes her characters come alive. The research she must have done and the time spent to put these historical characters together just amazes me. It is such an amazing story and one that I have not heard has been done before. Great read for any historical reader such as myself!