Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: The Enemies of Versailles

The Enemies of Versailles was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and I'm thrilled to be part of the Timeless Tours Blog Tour with Simon & Schuster Canada. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books of Sally Christie's Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, and I was really looking forward to reading the final installment.

Here's the synopsis:
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 quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades 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 inevitable revolution.
I think I've realized a good historical novel is, to me, equally entertaining and interesting. I really didn't know much about Louis XV before I began Christie's series. Truthfully, I may not have known anything about him. I only knew the very basics about XV's grandson, Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, and the French Revolution (sorry, history teachers). Now, though, I really want to dive in and do some research of my own. I think Christie did a good job of finding that balance of storytelling and educating.

That being said, I do wonder if sometimes the history and research played a part in the detail of the story. Some events were described in detail but others were skipped over. Was that because there wasn't a lot of documentation and Christie didn't want to make up too much?

The title of this book has a bit of a double meaning, I think. "Enemies" doesn't just refer to the animosity between Adelaide, Louis XVI's daughter, and Jeanne, his mistress. At the end of the book I think it also means those who are opposed to the monarchy and are in favour of the Revolution.

My biggest problem with this book was that I had no idea what year it was at any given moment. So much time passes in this novel (the first chapter is, I think, around 1750 when Jeanne is 7 and the epilogue is 1800) and I found it jumped around so much that it was hard to keep up.

Wait - I have another big problem. Simon and Schuster Canada. Guys. Friends. Why did you change the cover? Now my series doesn't match! Sigh. Bookworm problems.

I hadn't really thought about how Christie was going to have to end this series. I didn't realized that Louis XV would be dead, as would be his grandson and granddaughter-in-law. Pretty much everyone I had "met" in the last two books were dead too, either because of old age or because of the Revolution and the guillotine. That is incredibly dismal. But that is life. That was life for these very people who actually lived and died so many years ago. It says something about the stories Christie told that I mourned the characters. Before reading these novels they had only ever been names in a history book.

You don't have to be a history fan to enjoy Sally Christie's The Enemies of Versailles, or the rest of the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. This time period really lends itself well to fiction because it was so full of intrigue, gossip, and drama. I'm sad the series is over but I've been inspired to do some more research on Louis XV, his mistresses, and his family.

Make sure you follow along with the blog tour! You can check out the Timeless Tours site and the graphic below for more details.

*An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada, in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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