The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
Publisher: Atria BooksPublished: September 1, 2015Pages: 432Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book ToursA 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.
What amazing storytelling! Ms. Christie writes in a way that captivates. What an amazing story of King Louis XV, I had no idea about the crazy goings on at court back then. Who would have thought that four out of five sisters would end up sleeping with the king?
The five Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Marie-Anne and Hortense couldn't be any more different from one another in appearance, character or style. Louise so eager to please and to love, Pauline whose goal was to dominate and help rule, Diane who just loved to eat and laugh, Marie-Anne a good girl who gets pulled by the lure of it all and wonderful Hortense who doesn't let herself get pulled into any of it, she's the true good girl.
The girls' stories pulled me in and it was all the better for knowing that these were real girls and real experiences. Shocking and exciting. From naive Louise, who truly just wanted to be loved by the king in the same way that she adored and loved him; to Pauline, who was a scheming manipulator set to take what was her sisters and not caring how it hurt her. Just wow. How do sisters turn on each other like that?
I loved how the chapters alternated between the sisters so you would get a peak into each of their lives. Also, letters from the sisters are mingled between the chapters as the story unfolds. So interesting to see how each of them had such completely different personalities and morals. The one thing I really loved was how much Louise grew as a person, she had the worst heartbreak imaginable and then after everything goes down, she decides to be humble and accept her fate. I wish there was more of Hortense as she is the one sister who did not become a mistress of the king and I think that made her intriguing to me. Diane was a supporting character as well in my eyes and that leaves Pauline and Marie-Anne who were empowered to take control of their fates and push the limits.
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About the Author:
Sally Christie was born in England of British parents but grew up mostly in Canada. As a child she moved around with her family and then continued her wandering as she pursued a career in international development; she’s lived in 14 different countries and worked in many more. She’s now settled in Toronto and loving it.
Sally lives and breathes history; ever since she read Antonia Fraser’s masterful Mary, Queen of Scots when she was 10, she’s been an avid history junkie. She wishes more attention and technical innovation was devoted to time travel, because there is nothing she would rather do than travel back in time! Writing historical fiction is a poor substitute, but it’s the best one we have at the moment.
When not reading and writing history, she’s a tennis and Scrabble fanatic.