29 April 2016

Review #413: The Sisters of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #1) by Sally Christie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“When a man takes a mistress, he doesn't turn around and divorce his wife.”

----Arthur Golden

Sally Christie, an England-born Canadian author, has penned her enthralling debut historical fiction, The Sisters of Versailles that narrates the story of the five infamous Nesle sisters among whom four of them became the mistresses of King Louis XV of France. This story marks as the first book in The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy and the story accounts the life of each and every sister till their death.


A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France's most "well-beloved" monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

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 foot - and women - forward. The King's scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, the four sisters:sweet, naive Louise; ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne, will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

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 story is set against a stunning backdrop of 18th century France, especially in the royal palace of King Louis XV in Versailles, where the life of four famous Nesle sisters courted the king by heating up his bed as his royal mistresses. The story begins with the most beautiful sister, Hortense, who is the only sister who did not become a mistress to the king. The eldest and the most innocent sister, Louise, became the first royal mistress to the king, but after a few years, the determined sister, Pauline, asks her Louise to invite her to the palace of the kings and upon her arrival, immediately seduces the king but their whirlwind love affair comes to an abrupt end, when she dies while giving birth to the king's son. Soon the position to fulfill king's carnal desire were satisfied by Louise's clever sister, Marie Anne, who with her power threw her elder sister out of the court. Moreover, she claimed to political power with the king's help. Later, the smug sister, Diane, started sleeping with the king by involving in a threesome act with the king and her sister, Marie Anne, and after Marie Anne's sudden death, Diane took her place as the official mistress of the king.

This is the whole journey of the four sisters which is very much real and shocking to believe it. The author has done a thorough research on the lives of the five sisters and thus giving them life for the very first time in the literary fictional world. The author's writing style is itself a beauty laced with elegance, grace and emotions. The narrative is equally enchanting and evocative that will keep the readers constantly rooting for the five sisters, despite of their betrayal to one another. The pacing is moderate as the end of some of the chapters are greeted with letters shared among the sisters.

The backdrop of Versailles is vividly arrested by the author that is bound to make the readers feel like they are transported to the fascinating and elegant landscape of France. The author not only paints the picturesque background, but also captures the time-period along with its then culture, social norms, politics and fashion. And it is very obvious if this book is made into movie, the readers will be mesmerized by the style of the 18th century trends.

The characters are brought alive straight from the pages of history. The author creates them with so much detailing and vividness, that it will feel like the readers know the sisters at a personal level. Each and every sister has a myriad characteristic and ultimately their greed to power let them betray one another yet some held onto one another no matter what. From the very first pages, the author paints the bond among the five sisters with enough love and care but later after their position as mistresses, they defect.

The supporting cast, especially the male of this story are quite well-developed and the author have projected how their domination over these four sisters destroyed their relationship ultimately. This book is suitable for mature audience as the author pens the romance scenes with lots of raw passion and with heart-felt deep emotions.

In a nutshell, this is a passionate, honest and poignant historical fiction that is based on the lives of the five Nesle sisters.

Verdict: A compelling historical fiction.

Courtesy: Thanks to the author, Sally Christie, for giving me an opportunity to read and review her book.

Author Info:
I’m a life-long history buff and I really wish time travel were a possibility—I’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!
Since I can’t travel back in time (yet), I have done plenty of global travel: as a child I lived in England, Canada, Argentina, and Lesotho, and attended eight schools in three languages. I continued my global wanderings with a career in international development, but now I’m settled in Toronto and loving it.
The Sisters of Versailles is my first novel, though I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. When I’m not writing I’m reading, reading, reading; disappearing down various rabbit holes of historical research, and playing lots of tennis.
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1 comment:

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