Genre: Historical fiction
Published: June 28th 2011 Crown
Before Versailles is the luscious, sweeping story of the young Louis XIV in his first year as king of France. Told in the alternating perspectives of the young king and his first love, the woman who would become his mistress, Karleen Koen's newest weaves a portrait of court and country in turmoil with the legends of this colorful period in history, including that of the mysterious man in the iron mask.
The book is in a way not written from one POV. Sure Louise de Valliere is the main character for most of it but there is always someone else taking her is his turn to say something, or to think something. It feels not like you follow one person but like you are some sort of ghost jumping around trying to see what is going on.
The book also takes place during a few months in 1661. Lois XIV is madly in love with his sister in law Henriette and they have a relationship. Her husband Phillippe is angry, but then he has former lovers too, male ones. Viscount Nicholas who takes care of the finances is spying on everyone and he will soon be thrown into jail. Louise comes to the court, all innocent and sweet and tries to hide the affair between the king and his sister in law. And then Louise and Louis fall in love. Lots more affairs going on and someone are sending the king notes questioning who his father is. That is what is going on in this book. It is a young court since the king is only 22. Everyone is happy and flirting with each other.
There is also another part of the book. The author takes in the story about the iron mask and makes Louise find out more about this. A nice little plot that goes well with everything. Especially since it brings light on the relationship between the Queen Mother and Mazarin.
I felt sorry for poor Louise when I later had a look at her fate. She loved the king and he just threw her to the side when he was finished with her. The book may end all happily but she was certainly not the last mistress he had. Especially horrible was how she was used as a decoy when he found a new woman. The power of kings. Still in this book he is a young king and in love. You can't fault him for that, and neither Louise who is young and impressionable.
Sometimes I did wonder if it was the way it was written that never made me totally fall for the book. I never seemed to get a hold of anyone. They slipped through my fingers.
This is a book for historical fiction fans out there, and especially those who enjoy the period.
I am guestreviewing over at Ex Libris
The picture book, Honestly red Riding hood was rotten :)
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