Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

Opening Sentences: We were five sisters and four became mistresses if our king. Only I escaped his arms but that was my choice. I may be eighty-four years old, and all that I speak of may have happeneed in the far distance of the past, but in a woman vanity is eternal. So I need to tell you: I could have. Had I wanted. Because he - the king - he certainly wanted.

Synopsis:  Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear! 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 sweet, na├»ve Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, she and three of her younger sisters—ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power as each becomes the king’s favorite for a time. 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. 


The Sisters of Versailles is a biographical fiction novel about the five Nesle sisters, four of which became the mistresses of King Louis XV. They are Louise, Pauline, Adelaide, Hortense, and Marie Anne. The novelist did an excellent job of recreating the grandeur of the 18th century French court of the "Sun King". She aptly describes the lush glittering palaces, luxurious gowns, the cruel and painful intrigues, and disturbing cramped living conditions some of the lesser members of the court endured. The novel is written in the first person point of view of the sisters, which clearly brought to life their personalities and differences. The characters each developed uniquely, brilliantly, and in sometimes unpredictable ways. 

As with all biographical novels, there are times when the pace slows a bit, but in this case, the interest in court life kept me reading with keeness. This is the introductory book of a planned trilogy about these fascinating sisters, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next two installments, which swill bring to life some of the king's more notorious mistresses. 

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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