Posted By TLC Booktours on December 20, 2016
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (March 21, 2017)
In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.
“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS)
“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy)
“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution…. Historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal)
“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)
Old Maids at Versailles – Guest Blog Post by Sally Christie
Louis XV, who ruled France for a good part of the 18th century, fathered 10 children with his long suffering Polish wife: Eight daughters and two sons. Six daughters and one son (the father of the ill-fated Louis XVI) survived to their teenage years.
His two eldest daughters were twins and were known as Madame Elisabeth and Madame Henriette (daughters of the king were always known as Madame, even if they weren’t married). True to royal form, Madame Elisabeth was married off to Spain just two weeks after her 12th birthday. It wasn’t the most prestigious match – she was only marrying a younger son, not the heir to the Spanish throne – but it helped solidify the France /Spain alliance.
Then, the marrying stopped. Louis XV’s five other daughters – Henriette, Adelaide, Victoire, Sophie and Louise – never married, an almost unheard of situation in the history of royalty. Traditionally, princesses were valuable as pawns for securing alliances between countries and building new ones. So what happened? Why did the five of them never marry?
It was a combination of factors. For starters, there were not as many potential Catholic bridegrooms in a Europe that was half Protestant. Had Charles Stuart, the Young Pretender, succeeded in regaining the British throne, he would have been a good candidate, but his attempt failed and the French king was not eager to ally himself with a stateless pretender.
Louis was also very fond of his daughters, at least when they were younger, and was reluctant to send them away. He was also a wee bit lazy, and never made their marriages a priority. The princesses themselves, of course, loved their father and their life at Versailles, and would not have wanted to leave the comfort and luxuries of (arguably) the most magnificent palace in the world for some inferior court in a foreign country.
The third book in my trilogy about the many mistresses of Louis XV, The Enemies of Versailles, opens in 1750 when the five sisters were between 13 and 22 years old. One of the running themes in the book is their fear of getting married and what they would do to avoid it: the youngest, Louise, was even rumored to stuff one shoulder of her gown to make herself look misshapen and crippled, and therefore unmarriageable! Only Madame Henriette had any semblance of a love affair. She and the handsome young Duc de Chartres, a cousin of the king, fell in love and wanted to wed. The King couldn’t agree, for it would mean the Orleans family would become too powerful and upset the balance of power amongst his nobility.
As they got older and lost some of their youthful charm, the unmarried spinsters became objects of ridicule and figures of fun. As shown in both The Rivals of Versailles and The Enemies of Versailles (half of which is told by Madame Adelaide), the king’s daughters pitted themselves against their father’s mistresses and gradually became more and more estranged from the king and from any sort of influence at court.
The decision to never marry the princesses had serious consequences. Each princess, as a “Daughter of France” had the right to an enormous household, each containing hundreds of officers and servants. This, of course, cost the government a great deal of money. By the time their three nephews (including the future Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette) married and had children, there were more royal households at Versailles than ever before, all of them draining the coffers of the country and increasing its debt, no small factor in the coming Revolution.
– Thanks for this wonderful post, Sally! ~Jillian
Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.
Connect with Sally
Sally Christie’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Wednesday, March 8th: Reading Reality
Monday, March 13th: Books Without Any Pictures
Tuesday, March 14th: From the TBR Pile – Spotlight/Feature
Wednesday, March 15th: Let Them Read Books
Thursday, March 16th: Scandalous Women
Friday, March 17th: BookNAround
Monday, March 20th: Books ‘n Tea
Monday, March 20th: An Accidental Blog
Tuesday, March 21st: Read Love Blog – Spotlight/Feature
Wednesday, March 22nd: The Maiden’s Court
Thursday, March 23rd: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Friday, March 24th: Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, March 27th: Must Read Faster
Tuesday, March 28th: Hoser’s Blook
Wednesday, March 29th: Books à la Mode – Spotlight/Feature
Thursday, March 30th: Dreams, Etc.
Friday, March 31st: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – Spotlight/Feature
Monday, April 3rd: A Holland Reads – Spotlight/Feature
Wednesday, April 5th: Becky on Books
Friday, April 7th: A Literary Vacation