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The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel (The…

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy)

by Sally Christie

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Apparently this author likes to troll reviews which are not in her favor. ( )
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
I think the most amazing thing about this book is that is actually based on a true story about 4 out of 5 sisters that all became mistresses to King Louis XV. It sounds incredible, but it's really true, and I had no idea about it. I have never ever heard about these sisters before I read the book. The mistress that came after them, well she is well known, but the sweet Louise, the ambitious Pauline, the happy Diane and shrewd Marie-Anne are not as known as Madame du Pompadour.

Anyway, I felt that Sally Christie really captured both the time and the characters truly well. A historical fiction is truly good when the characters and the setting come to life and it feels like you for a moment also are at Court with the sisters. You live with them, and you feel for them when something bad happens to them. There were several times that I thought “thank God that I didn't live at that time” and also sometimes like when a woman carries her dog in her bag it feels like things haven't changed that much.

I would like to say that I liked a sister or two better than the other, but I liked and disliked them all through the book. They really didn't feel like blood sisters always with all the backstabbing. For some of them, being mistresses to the king was more of a mission than real passion. The one that loved him the most (in my opinion) Louise had to watch how her sisters one by one took over as the mistresses and for most of the time I was annoyed over how placid she was, but in the end, she seems to have finally found her call. It's interesting that Hortense, the one sister that was the most beautiful never ended up as the king's mistresses, but then again she loved her husband and seemed to be the one with the happiest marriage with Diane coming second.

I must admit that the character I found most intriguing in the book was not any of the sisters or the king. It was Richelieu. Alas, his flirting with Marie-Anne let unfortunately nowhere.

It was a good book, I enjoyed reading it. Loved the letters between the sister that glossed over the truth a bit. It was nice to get a history lesson and at the same time being entertained. But I found the narrative, with shifting between sisters not always to my liking, probably because some of them were more interesting than the other and not everything that happened was that interesting, like Pauline and Diane at the convent. Not that the story dragged out or anything, I was just not always engrossed with it. But I loved the ending, the very emotional and sad ending. Just the kind I like!

I received this copy from the Atria Books through Edelweiss in return for an honest review! Thank you! ( )
  MaraBlaise | Dec 14, 2017 |
The Sisters of Versailles tells the story of the de Nesle-Mailly sisters, and how four out of five of them ended up shacking up with the king. King Louis IV that is.

I'll be really colloquial with my review (kind of strange, since my last adult review was really eloquently written), but what I learned in the process of reading this book is - (1) Listen to your elders, (2) Don't sleep with a married man because it will ruin your life, (3), although we know this already, history has proven time and time again, that despite the limitations given to women because they were thought to be the weaker sex, they are badass and strong and can rule a country without some spineless king. But of course, men in history like to think they are superior, so we see only their cunning and deviousness behind the scenes.

Consider this story a behind the scenes to what was really happening during King Louis's reign when he was getting it on with the de-Nesle sisters. Sans Hortense, although she was personally my favorite sister, being devoted and in-love with her husband and constantly reprimanding her sisters for disobeying their Tante (their aunt).

The other sisters, in their alternating POVs, were just as entertaining. We have Louise, who tends to see the bright side in people. Pauline, who wants to rule France. Marie-Anne, who doesn't really want to rule France but wants power and knowledge and freedom. And Diane, who ends up being the butt of jokes and is a bit silly, but occasionally insightful nonetheless. Since Louis is getting bored of his Polish wife who hasn't lost her Polish accent and continues to pronounce goot instead of good, he ends up having a thing for sisters.

Can I just say how interesting I find court/political intrigue books? I loved the intrigue and mystique of this! Everyone in Versailles was all working towards their own gain, and I especially liked that the sisters Pauline and Marie-Anne used their sexuality to get what they wanted.

The dialogue of the book didn't seem out of place either - it all seemed very 17th century and pompous and full of longing and disgust for the bourgeois. The author has done her research! I also like the inclusion of Diane's reportedly used quote.

"Perhaps sire, but my husband is so unfaithful, I am not even sure if the baby is his."

Even with the lack of documentation of certain people, it was pretty obvious to distinguish between the personalities of the sisters. They were strong, willful, capable women, and it would have been awesome to know them in the modern times. Sally Christie did a great job of telling their story.

I won this book in a giveaway, but that doesn't impact my review. I leave you an honest review here!

( )
  raisinetta | Sep 25, 2017 |
The Nesle sisters are certainly the lesser-known mistresses of Louis XV (Madame de Pomdapour and Madame du Barry definitely won the fame game), and this novel does a good job of vividly re-imagining their lives at the 18-century French court. The novel switches viewpoints between the five sisters and early on, I had trouble distinguishing between the five different narrators, but this problem lessened as I got into the story. Highly enjoyable and an author I will definitely read more of! ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Aug 7, 2016 |
The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie
Book #1: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
My Review:

The gardens, the Hall of Mirrors, the Marble Court, the kings and queens, the power and intrigue, the scandal, and the relentless gossip. Welcome to late 18th century (and every other century) Versailles!! For the Nesle sisters, Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne, Versailles was both their making and their undoing. At the time, their story wasn’t just well-known, it was quite literally the talk of the town and country yet today, these five women are but a footnote in France’s long history.

In 18th century France (and elsewhere to be fair) it was quite customary for the king and queen to take lovers.* In fact, taking a lover was all but a sporting event and any time a king or queen showed even the slightest interest in warming their bed with someone new, the elite families began vying for the favor. For nearly two decades, one family, the Nesle’s held the distinction of warming the King Louis XV’s bed. Of the five sisters, four were to become the King’s mistress, a position that was both envied and reviled not only by rival families but among themselves as well.

When Louise Nesle crawled into the King’s bed, she did so both reluctantly and secretly. For seven years, Louis XV was a devoted and caring husband to his wife, the Queen. As with so many royal marriages, as time passed the affection they once felt for one another cooled and the King began looking for a new sexual partner. Though already married and in service to the Queen, Louise Nesle was pegged as being the perfect candidate for Louis and so she was, for more than six years. Inexplicably, the affair between the King and Louise was kept absolutely secret for almost the entire length of their association. The secrecy must have certainly be a large part of the attraction because once Louise’s identity became common knowledge, the King began to look for a new partner.

If the accounts and portrayal of Pauline Nesle are accurate, she was indeed a soulless bitch with nothing but her own interests in mind. Pauline set out to seduce the King and with her quick wit, intelligence, and sharp tongue she was easily able to replace her sister in the King’s bed. Pauline was not the most beautiful of the sisters but was likely the most intelligent and knew it would take both her mind and body to satisfy the King and keep her in his good graces. Pauline acquainted herself with the King’s political affairs as much as she did with his private affairs. She was shrewd and confident, cold and cruel with most people (including her still resent sister, Louise) which earned her the King’s respect and the Court’s hatred.

While Pauline openly and shrewdly played the mistress game, the youngest of the Nesle sisters, Marie-Anne played her hand much closer to the vest and by the time she became Louis’s lover, everyone’s head was spinning and wondering just where this sister came from. Marie-Anne was widowed at a very young age and found herself yet again at the mercy of others and their whims. Determined never to be at the mercy of anyone every again, Marie-Anne took the opportunity to serve as the King’s mistress but only if certain conditions were met. For as heartless and cruel as her sister Pauline was, Marie-Anne had her outpaced by leaps and bounds. Marie-Anne didn’t just play the political game, she excelled at it. She called some of the King’s most trusted men allies and she knew how to work the King to her greatest advantage. She banished or had banished anyone (including her sister, Louise) she saw as a threat and went to great lengths (going with him to the battlefield) to ensure the King’s attention was always focused on her. In fact, court gossip said Marie-Anne invited her sister, Diane into bed with she and the King and required Diane take her place (thus making her the 4th Nesle sister to bed the King) with the King when she, Marie-Anne was unable to bed him herself. Marie-Anne was as devious and cunning, ruthless and intelligent as she was young and beautiful. She was quite literally everything the King wanted in a mistress.

The Bottom Line: The Sisters of Versailles is a long and winding tale of four women who sacrificed everything, including their relationships with one another to serve their King. Sally Christie has taken on a monumental task in trying to weave a story around a family whose history is so poorly documented. Christie relies on Hortense, the only one of the five sisters not to sleep with the King to tell the tale of her family. Through a series of letters between the women and chapters told from each of the sister’s alternating perspective, the court of Louis XV comes alive. Christie’s writing style makes it so easy to become attached to the Nesle sisters, to feel sorry them, to champion their efforts, to ridicule their choices, and even hate them on occasion. This is historical fiction at its best and I found myself caught up in the Nesle sister’s story from the very beginning. I can only hope the two succeeding installments of The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy is as engaging as The Sisters of Versailles.

*If you want the real and sordid history of royal affairs, I highly recommend reading Eleanor Herman’s Sex with Kings and the follow-up, Sex with the Queen. ( )
  arthistorychick | Apr 2, 2016 |
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"A 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, nai;ve 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"--… (more)

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