The Rivals of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #2) by Sally Christie
Atria Books eBook & Paperback;
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
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. The year is 1745 and Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had mapped out 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 bourgeoise 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 14-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 say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour. Alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Theresa of Austria, she is considered one of the three most powerful women of the 18th century, and one of the most influential royal mistresses of all time. In The Rivals of Versailles, Christie gets to the heart of Pompadour’s legendary relationship with Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” king. Pompadour was not only his mistress, but his confidante and influential political adviser for close to twenty years. Full of historical insight, decadence, wit and scandal, The Rivals of Versailles is about one woman’s trials and triumphs, her love for a king, and her role in shaping a nation.
"The Rivals of Versailles" continues the story of "The Sisters of Versailles", picking up where the first book in the trilogy left off. In this book, we are introduced to Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a young town girl who was told in her childhood by a gypsy that she would one day become the mistress of the king. The rest of her childhood is spent preparing her for this moment, which indeed, does finally arrive. Though his court hates her, and laughs at her, in time she becomes his most trusted advisor, confidante and most famous mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour.
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!
About the Author
I'm a life-long history buff - and I mean life-long. One of the first adult books I read was Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots. Wow! That book just blew my little ten year old mind: something about the way it brought the past right back to life, made it live again on the page. I date my obsession with history to that time, but I'd been writing ("writing") ever since I was able to hold a pencil. If you'd told my 12-year old self that I'd not be a writer when I grew up, I would have laughed you out of the tree house. With a few detours along the way, to work overseas in consulting and development, as well as to go to business school, I've finally come full circle to where I think I should be. I currently live in Toronto and when I'm not writing, I'm playing lots of tennis; doing random historical research (old census records are my favorite); playing Scrabble, and squirrel-watching (the room where I write has French doors leading out to a deck; I avidly follow, and feed, a scruffy gang). For more information please visit Sally Christie's website. You can also find her on Goodreads and Pinterest.
Blog Tour Schedule
Sunday, May 1 Review at A Book Drunkard Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Monday, May 2 Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, May 3 Interview at The Maiden's Court
Wednesday, May 4 Review at To Read or Not to Read Review at With Her Nose Stuck In A Book Review, Guest Post, & Giveaway at History Undressed
Thursday, May 5 Review at Bookish
Friday, May 6 Review at History From a Woman's Perspective
Monday, May 9 Review at Book Lovers Paradise Guest Post at leeanna.me
Tuesday, May 10 Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, May 11 Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Thursday, May 12 Review at The Lit Bitch Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Friday, May 13 Review at #redhead.with.book
Sunday, May 15 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views Review & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Obsession