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The Sun King by Nancy Mitford

The Sun King (original 1966; edition 1966)

by Nancy Mitford

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6551314,692 (3.78)53
Title:The Sun King
Authors:Nancy Mitford
Info:New York: Harmony Books, 1982, c1966.
Collections:Your library
Tags:history, france, coffeetable

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The Sun King by Nancy Mitford (1966)

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Nancy Mitford makes history seem like gossip about the neighbours over tea. The book is compelling from start to finish because she makes these personages come to life. ( )
  encycl | Feb 3, 2017 |
This is a colourful, engaging and gossipy book about the life of Louis XIV, as its title suggests centred around his famous court at Versailles. As such, there is little analysis of his domestic or foreign policy, and those looking for a scholarly analysis must look elsewhere. The main events of the last 40-50 years of the reign are covered, though, albeit from the point of view of Louis and his relatives more specifically; that said, as the leading autocrat of his day ("L'Etat c'est moi" was not said without good reason), there is a very close identity between the man and his country. The author's style is occasionally a little cruel in terms of her physical descriptions of some of the individuals and her own aristocratic prejudices show through in places. Nevertheless, this is a very engaging read with a large number of (sometimes confusing) names. It reads like a novel, with bizarre events such as the Affair of the Poisons, affairs galore, and tragedy with the deaths of three generations of Louis's own heirs towards the end of his life. Finally, this original 1966 hardback edition (picked up in a charity shop ten years ago) is lavishly illustrated with colour and black and white pictures. There is a list of sources, but not footnotes/endnotes. Finally, a genealogical table would have been helpful. ( )
  john257hopper | Dec 19, 2016 |
Mitford's gossipy, sarcastic tone invigorates the already fascinating tale of King Louis XIV of France. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Reading this history of the Sun King, Louis XIV, was sort of like strolling through Versailles with a very knowledgeable friend who gives you some history, some gossip, and some personal bias. Mitford wrote this book in the 1960s and I sort of viewed this as an early form of narrative nonfiction. Overall, I liked it, but I think I would have been annoyed if this was the only biography of Louis XIV I had read since it isn't particularly thorough or focused. Part of me liked having Mitford's voice so present in the book and sometimes I found it annoying, especially when some of her racial and cultural biases came through.

I'm not sure who I'd recommend this for - probably only people who want an addition to other Louis XIV reading they've done or people who like a strong authorial voice with a 60s vibe. ( )
  japaul22 | Sep 24, 2015 |
Read and enjoyed many, many years ago. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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Louis XIV fell in love with Versailles and Louise de La Valliere at the same time; Versailles was the love of his life.
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Overview: The Sun King is a dazzling double portrait of Louis XIV and Versailles, the opulent court from which he ruled. With characteristic elan, Nancy Mitford reconstructs the daily life of king and courtiers during France's golden age, offering vivid sketches of the architects, artists, and gardeners responsible for the creation of the most magnificent palace Europe had yet seen. Mitford lays bare the complex and deadly intrigues in the stateroom and the no less high-stakes power struggles in the bedroom. At the center of it all is Louis XIV himself, the demanding, mercurial, but remarkably resilient sovereign who guided France through nearly three quarters of the Grand Siecle. Brimming with sumptuous detail and delicious bons mots, and written in a witty, conversational style, The Sun King restores a distant glittering century to vibrant life.… (more)

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