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Before Versailles: Before the History You…

Before Versailles: Before the History You Know...a Novel of Louis XIV (edition 2012)

by Karleen Koen (Author)

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Title:Before Versailles: Before the History You Know...a Novel of Louis XIV
Authors:Karleen Koen (Author)
Info:Sourcebooks Landmark (2012), Edition: Reprint, 482 pages
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Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV by Karleen Koen



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Before Versailles is historical fiction set in France in just six months, March through September of 1661, early in the reign of Louis XIV.  The book portrays the young king coming into his own to outmaneuver an advisor who has become too powerful.  The novel also provides a glimpse into the complex relationships between the king, his mother and brother, his brother's wife, and various government officials and members of the royal household - including many flirtatious ladies.

Karleen Koen's novel was quite interesting to me, but a bit hard to follow at times, because the narrative viewpoint shifts between so many characters.  I thought Grover Gardner was fine as the narrator.  The list of characters in the print book and on Koen's website was extremely helpful.

© Amanda Pape - 2017

[The e-audiobook, and an e-book for reference, were borrowed from and returned to public libraries.] ( )
1 vote riofriotex | Dec 6, 2017 |
Since Through a Glass Darkly I have been hoping for Karleen Koen to devote an entire novel to Louis XIV (I am a passionate fan of the Sun King). And now here it is!

The action of the novel is concentrated in a very short time, the few months that it took for the young Louis XIV to get rid of Nicolas Fouquet, the all-powerful superintendent of finances of France. In fact, the same period covered by Dumas in The Vicomte de Bragelonne. So, I was quite familiar with some of the scenes, which allowed me to enjoy even more the treatment they are given here.

There is also the story of the Man in the Iron Mask, revised and rewritten in a new – and quite touching – way.

Focusing on such a short time frame, however, also has some disadvantages: the main one is that the author sometimes has to intervene directly to foreshadow the future; every time this happens you have something like a voiceover anticipating things the characters cannot yet know, so the POV swings and blurs.

Some characters are well drawn. Others seem to be there just to advance the plot. Or was I just focusing my attention on my favourite characters? I liked Anne of Austria, Louis, his brother Philippe, and the latter's wife, Minette (Henrietta-Anne of England). I am quite a fan of Philippe, have always been, so I generally have no time for poor Minette. Still, I like the way she is presented here, I can almost understand her.

The novel has good pace, and could easily be converted into a script.

Overall, a pleasant book to read... and I hope for a sequel! ( )
  Teodelina | Jun 3, 2013 |
I won a copy of this book through First Reads, and was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. This novel was a great introduction to the historical fiction genre. The plot itself was not overly complex, and though initially there were a lot of characters very quickly introduced, each character was well developed and believable, making it a very easy and interesting read. The narrative and dialogue flowed naturally, and the descriptions and details given were just enough and did not distract from the plot. Overall, an interesting work of fiction I hadn't expected to enjoy when I picked it up, but has left me planning to read Koen's other novels. ( )
  miniry | Mar 31, 2013 |
Fiction, Historical ( )
  JenniN | Feb 19, 2013 |
Before Versaille is a novel of King Louis XIV, who reigned for over 72 years in France. This book however takes place for four months early in his reign. This is a story filled with court intrigue, forbidden love affairs, mystery and a cast of characters, some real and some imagined. Ms. Koen's writing is the kind that pulls the reader right into the story and the reader can almost see the beauty of the women, the gowns and the palace's that are described. I have been a fan of Karleen Koen for many years since I read the first book Through a Glass Darkly and she did not disappoint me with this book. A historical fiction novel that will appeal to readers who love the genre. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I received a copy of the book for review and was not monetarily compensated for my review. ( )
  celticlady53 | Sep 24, 2012 |
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Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. / Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou has broken may rejoice. / Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. / Create in me a clean heart, O God...

-- Psalms 51:7-10
For X and for Louise de la Valliere
First words
A young woman galloped headlong and recklessly down half-wild trails in the immense forest of Fontainebleau. Her fair hair had come loos from its pins, and she leaned low against her horse's neck and whispered the filly onward, as if she were being chased by murderers.
... the nobility surrounding him as he grew to manhood was as proud as Lucifer and as trustworthy. (Prologue, pg. 1)
Fresh, he thought. A young woman who didn't wish to talk to him or charm him or impress him or imply the offer of her body for a favor. (Chapter 4, pg. 63)
Ambition might be buried deep inside Nicolas - under the charm, the refinement, the creativity - but it was there, sharp as any gleaming blade. (Chapter 4, pg. 63)
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(from the book cover) After the death of the prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He's still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully take everything he can get - including his brother's wife. While the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, his brother's jealousy coupled with his mother's rage at Louis's lack of self-control, sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king's finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought - a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe...
Haiku summary
Acting, dancing, lust
with hidden sinister plots =
Sun King's monarchy

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Assuming the responsibilities of governing France after the death of his prime minister, Louis XIV embarks on a love affair with his sister-in-law, Henriette, triggering a scandal that is complicated by a finance minister's growing power and a mysterious boy with an iron mask.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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