Friday, March 18, 2016

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie (3.5 stars)

About The Sisters of Versailles

Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy 
Paperback: 432 pages Publisher: Atria Books (September 1, 2015) 

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. 

The Sisters of Versailles centers on the (relatively, at least for the genre) overlooked period of early 18th century France. The French Revolution and Marie Antoinette have been extensively written about; it’s time for fans of that time period to step further back in time and to explore the reign of Louis XV (1715 – 1774) a time of increasing social turbulence and change that sets the stage neatly for the Revolution that follows.  

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, naïve 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. Telling the story of 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.

“Sally Christie’s The Sisters of Versailles is an intriguing romp through Louis XV’s France. Filled with lush backdrops, rich detail, and colorful characters, fans of historical fiction will enjoy this glimpse into the lost golden era of the French monarchy.” (Allison Pataki, author of THE ACCIDENTAL EMPRESS) 

“A stunning breadth of period detail, offered in a fresh, contemporary voice.” (Juliet Grey, author of the acclaimed Marie Antoinette trilogy) 

“Such an extraordinary tale makes for compelling reading and, as the lead book in a planned trilogy, will draw in readers who are interested in royal lives before the French Revolution…. Historical fiction fans, unfamiliar with the history of the Nesle sisters, will be intrigued.” (Library Journal) 

“Tantalizing descriptions and cliff-hangers will leave the reader rapidly turning the pages in anticipation… A wickedly delightful read.” (New York Daily News)

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In my humble opinion, sisters should have an unbreakable bond. But that could come from the fact that I'm the oldest of three sisters and have three daughters. However, in this novel, the sisters seem genetically predisposed to rivalry and running all over each other.

Guess when a man--especially a King--is involved, these things will happen. Still, I found the King shallow and immature, so at times, I just didn't get what the fight was about... except for power. Sadly, I didn't really like any of the girls because of their underhanded ways. 

But even saying all of that, I couldn't help but read on and see what it would all lead to. Sally Christie has an intriguing writing style and builds the story to keep you engaged. I especially appreciated the inserted letters between all the women. It was an excellent vehicle to show how underhanded they really were. But, unfortunately, that led me back to not always liking them.

Writing, storyline, historical intrigue--4 stars
Likable characters and believable romances--3 stars

But maybe I'm just cynical. Give it a chance. If for no other reason then it is beautifully written and well crafted.

Rating: 3.5 stars

About Sally Christie 

SC2Sally 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. 

Connect with Sally 
Website | Goodreads

Thanks to TLC for my review copy.

Note: I received a complimentary copy for review purposes. A positive review was not requested or guaranteed; the opinions expressed are my own. 
Please visit other stops on The Sisters of Versailles blog tour page.


Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour.