Pub. Date: March 21st, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Book #3
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.
What Did I Think About the Story?
As the synopsis says, The Enemies of Versailles is the third book in Sally Christie's entertaining Mistresses of Versailles trilogy and, having read all three books, I find it a fitting ending to this exciting and dramatic series that highlights the luxuriant and ever shifting world of Louis XV's court. This particular novel, however, was probably my favorite as it branches outside of the glitz and glamour of the Court into the dangerous and bloody streets of a people no longer content to let their nobility live the high life while they starve.
The story goes back and forth between two perspectives - that of Louis XV's final mistress, the lowborn Jeanne Becu (who becomes the Comtesse du Barry), and one of his daughters, Madame Adelaide - and it would be nearly impossible to find two women so different. Jeanne is somewhat lazy, especially when she is young, and is quite content to use her charms and skills of seduction to create a comfortable life of luxury. With this being said, she is also kind and giving and loving towards those that are close to her. On the flipside is Adelaide - cold, rigid, strict Adelaide - who can barely stand anyone other than her father and, at times, her sisters and who put propriety above happiness or connections with other people. I will say that, while I didn't particularly like her, I did feel sorry for Adelaide as she obviously yearned for her father's attention and love and he seemed more content to give that affection to his mistresses and his court. It is due to this great gulf between the women that we, the reader, get such a well rounded look at the court and France during this time and I thought it was such a great idea to expand our view of the people and the times surrounding them.
I think my favorite aspect of the story would have to be what came after Louis XV died (yes, the story continues after our main man is dead!). The story progresses through the French Revolution and the heartache and terror that the nobility and those closest to the throne experience during this time is palpable. While I can't say that I felt bad for the court when the members began losing their possessions and vast excesses I did ache for them as the horror compounded and the began losing their lives because of this world most of them were born into. There is a particular scene with the Comtesse du Barry when she is no longer able to use her charms or the vast amount of goods she had collected to buy her way to freedom that was actually hard to read as I hoped against hope that she would find a way to survive like she had time and time again. If you don't already know how her storyline ends this book is the perfect way to discover it!
Another aspect I very much enjoyed was getting to see Marie Antoinette from such a unique perspective. She came off as such a sad character to me as nothing she did made a difference in how people looked at her. The nobility seemed to think she was improper and too informal while the common people of France used her as a symbol of the excesses of the court regardless of what she actually did or didn't do. I kept hoping that she and Jeanne would band together as misfits of the court and get along, but even though they had more in common that I expected that wasn't meant to be. In the end, both were somewhat isolated and dragged along through a court machine that didn't quite want them until the bitter end that neither could escape.
The Enemies of Versailles is wondering historical fiction and has really whetted my appetite to learn more about French History. Stretching from the end of the mistress Pompadour's hold on the court through to the end of the French Revolution, these women do a remarkable job of placing the aging King at the back of the story and letting their own lives shine through. While I don't think it's necessary to read all three stories in order I do recommend it as it gives you a fully rounded glimpse into the end of an era of extravagance and into the modern age of government.
What Did I Think About the Cover?
I love this cover, as I've loved the covers of all books in this series! Seeing Jeanne front and center gave me a good starting point for the vision I ended up with in my head as her story developed and I always love seeing what an actual historical figure looked like. Plus, with all the gilding and beautiful colors the series looks so pretty on my shelves!
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of The Enemies of Versailles in exchange for an honest review! All opinions are my own. Continue below for more information about the book, the tour, and how you can enter to win a copy of your own!
Praise for The Mistresses of Versailles Series
“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
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About the Author
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.
It's Giveaway Time!!!
Thanks to TLC Book Tours I have one copy of The Enemies of Versailles to give away (US/CAN only)! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!
I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on April 14th, 2017 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner. The winner will then have 48 hours to respond to my email with their full mailing address. If I don't hear back I'll pick a new winner. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.
TLC Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, March 7th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, March 8th: Reading Reality
Friday, March 10th: Books à la Mode – Spotlight/Feature
Monday, March 13th: Historical-Fiction.com
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
Monday, March 27th: Must Read Faster
Tuesday, March 28th: Hoser’s Blook
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