This is a great gossipy history book. I have my B.A. in history and find that some books lack a historian's eye. This book is the opposite and even describes the details of Louis XIV wealth in interesting minutia. It is snarky. If you like the Tudors or the Borgias, you will like this book.
A highly entertaining and readable history of Louis XIV (1638-1715) and the many women in his life : his mother Anne of Austria, his mistresses Louise de La Valliere, Athenais de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon and other women in his life including his daughters, nieces and grandson’s wife Adelaide. Louis XIV was a dynamic King of France, as meticulous in his role war chief as he was in transforming Versailles. He was also reliant on the many women in his life to provide religious advice, sexual fulfillment and multiple heirs . The book explains the social hierarchy between mistresses and their great influence on the court. Little details enliven the book: Athenais de Montespan started a fashion of loose-fitting clothes to disguise her frequent pregnancies ;Madame de Maintenant , a pious woman said to be secretly married to the King, caused great consternation when was she wore royal ermine for a portrait . A lively, satisfying read that never bogs down.
I really didn't think I was going to like this book, but after the first 50 pages I was hooked. Extremely well-written, Ms. Fraser makes you care. The names, and their similarities, are a little overwhelming, but I persevered and learned a lot of history. Yes - the Royals really do lead a very, very different life than the rest of us. I find it amazing that the institution still exists.
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