Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review: The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: September 1, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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 GirlThe 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 Nesle sisters: Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne all become entangled in the Court of Louis XV at glittering Versailles.  King Louis has always been faithful to his wife, but she is starting to age and he is starting to stray.  First, he shows interest in newly married Louise who is trying to find her way at court.  Once she becomes his mistress, she realizes that she has actual feelings towards him and he, apparently, feels the same way.  For many years they are together, that is until her sister, Pauline, writes begging to come to court.  Louise finally lets her come, thinking nothing will come of it as Pauline is not the prettiest girl, but apparently the entire court is enthralled with her personality and charm, including King Louis. So, Louise is cast aside like a day old bagel and she never really recovers from her sister's betrayal.   As time goes on, four of the five sisters end up in the arms of King Louis and I'd say the competition brings out the worst in all the girls.  The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie is the start of a new trilogy that is not only well researched, but very entertaining. You can't make this kind of drama up.

Out of all the sisters, I felt the most for poor Louise in  The Sisters of Versailles . She gets married and she realizes that her husband is sort of an ogre and then finds herself as Louis' mistress. She is finally happy (for once!) and then her world starts crumbing down when Pauline arrives at court.  She never really gets over Louis and goes back to him many times in her life.

I couldn't get over how vicious some of the sisters were, especially Pauline. Yikes. Talk about mean girls?! Some of these sisters would stab you in the back without even hesitating. What is even more intriguing is the fact that these sisters are based on the real-life Nesle sisters, which I absolutely love.

The setting of Versailles was really captivating in  The Sisters of Versailles . I usually read about the Tudor Court, but I must say that King Louis XV's Court definitely gave the Tudor Court a run for its money.  The wealth, the fashion, the women, the gossip....it was all there!

Although I enjoyed  The Sisters of Versailles , I have to say that it lacked that something extra special that would bump it up to four stars. While I thought it was entertaining enough, I felt like I could care for the sisters just a bit more.

Nonetheless, if you are looking for a historical read with a gorgeous backdrop filled with a lot of sisterly drama, then you'll want to check out  The Sisters of Versailles this fall.


4 comments:

  1. This sounds interesting and entertaining but sad. I'd feel bad bad for Louise too because of her sister's betrayal though I'd feel even sadder for the poor queen.

    I hadn't heard of the Nesle sisters but I'd have to wonder if their descendants are connected to the chocolate company...

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    1. I know, right?! I sure did. I was wondering the same thing. It was definitely interesting to learn about a time period I really know nothing about. Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  2. I'm kind of curious about Pauline now Christina! I love to hate a good character, and she sounds like someone I'm going to enjoy swearing at as I read. I think my mother in law would enjoy this as well - she typically sticks to the Tudor court too, but she'll like the drama:)

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    1. Yes, I really couldn't stand her, although I felt for her towards the end of her story. I think your MIL would definitely like this book. It's the start of a new trilogy, so that's always fun. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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