Sunday, September 6, 2015

Anna Maria Mancini - The Enchantress of Paris by Marci Jefferson


Anna Maria Mancini
1639 - 1715

Anna Maria Mancini was a beautiful young Roman woman who  captured the heart of the Sun King. Her father, Baron Lorenzo Mancini, a necromancer and astrologer had five daughters to marry off. But before he could arrange advantageous marriages for them, he died. The years was 1650 and the girls were all within marriageable age. His wife, Baroness Geronima Mazzarini, a Sicilian noblewomen, took her daughters to Paris, to the home of her brother, Cardinal Mazarin. There she hoped to use his influence to arrange their marriages.


Cardinal Giulio Mazzarini

Their beauty caught the attention not only of dukes, princes, and kings. Of the five sisters, Anna Maria (her name became shortened to Marie) was perhaps the most beautiful with her dark hair and eyes and a charming personality. She captured the biggest prize of all - she won the heart of King Louis XIV The Sun King. 


Sounds like a dream come true, right? Wrong! 

Coming from a family of astrologers and necromancers, Geronima had Marie's horoscope cast. The results were not good. The forecast predicted that Marie would cause a great deal of trouble and would ultimately disgrace the family. 

Ailing in health and now on her death bed, Geronima called her Cardinal brother to her bedside and made him promise that he would have Marie cloistered in a convent for the rest of her life. Let the machinations begin! 

The good Cardinal loved his sister and would stop at nothing to see her last wish fulfilled. But to go up against a king is no easy feat. Louis desperately loved Marie, even though it was rumored that their love affair was only platonic. He pulled many stunts to keep Marie out of the Sun King's view. Despite all his attempts, their relationship continued to flourish. Finally, he solicited the help of Louis's mother, Anne of Austria, who wholeheartedly became his co-consipirator. 


Anne of Austria
1601 - 1666

Marie was banished from France and sent back to Rome Italy to marry the Italian prince, Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna who was duly surprised to learn his bride was still a virgin. 


Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna
1637 - 1689

Meanwhile, Louis was swiftly married off to Maria Theresa of Spain. 


Maria Theresa
1638 - 1683

In Italy, Marie presented her husband with three sons. Not long after the birth of her last son, Marie's marriage to Lorenzo broke down and turned violent. Fearing for her life, she escaped from Rome accompanied by her sister Hortense, whose own marriage had also failed miserably due to her very wealthy husband's stinginess and extreme jealousy.  


Hortense Mancini
1646 - 1699

Together with her wild sister, Hortense, Marie cavorted throughout Europe. Short of money, she supported herself by writing her memoirs which were a huge hit. Only when her husband died did she return to Italy. 

Marie Mancini's life has been captured in the latest novel about her life:

THE ENCHANTRESS OF PARIS

by

Marci Jefferson

Opening Paragraph: Footmen threw open the front doors of my casa, my sanctum of peaceful exile in madrid for near a decade, and a whiff of spices and the gleam of moonlight filled my front hall. Olympia brushed in, tall and fashionable as ever in black French silks and familiar diamonds, looking only half of her forty years. though she had come to Madrid for her own exile three years earlier, I had not seen my older sister since her arrival visit. She took one look at my Spanish garb and frowned her disdainful courtier's frown. "Really, Marie, hyave you lost all sense of style?"

Back Cover Blurb:

Fraught with conspiracy and passion, the Sun King's opulent court is brought to vivid life in this captivating tale about a woman whose love was more powerful than magic.
The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.

Review by Mirella Patzer

This fictional account of the life of Marie Mancini is a definite 5 star read! It kept me engaged from first page to last. I adored the love letters between Marie and King Louis that author Marci Jefferson recreated. Everything about this story was well done--from the historical details to the characters to the oppulence of the French Court! Utterly compelling. I love a good villain, and the Cardinal fit the bill. Duplicitous, sneaky, mean, and conniving, he never failed to keep me entertained.

Well crafted, nicely researched, and vibrant with detail of the 17th century French court, this was one book that I devoured in two sittings. Definitely highly recommended. One of my favourite books for 2015.   

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