I received this book for free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Enemies of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3) by Sally Christie
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3
Published: March 21st 2017 by Atria Books
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: TLC Book Tours
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The Enemies of Versailles is the third book in Sally Christie’s Mistresses of Versailles trilogy. But don’t worry–you don’t have to read either of the previous books to be able to understand this one. Each book in the series focuses on a different mistress of Louis XV of France, and their stories are fascinating.
The Enemies of Versailles alternates between the point of view of Adelaide, Louis’ frumpy daughter, and the Comtesse du Barry. Of the two, I found du Barry much more compelling. Jeanne was born in poverty. After working for a time at a fashionable shop, she became mistress to Barry, who in turn started pimping her out to the nobility. But Jeanne is independent and used Barry to propel herself all the way to Versailles as she becomes the king’s mistress and companion. By this point, Louis is already pretty old, and Jeanne brings joy back into his life. And it’s extraordinary, because it’s unheard of for someone from the lower classes to become mistress to the king. Usually that is a station reserved for the nobility. Even Madame Pompadour, the king’s former mistress, was at least bourgeois. It’s a clear sign that times are changing for France.
Adelaide, on the other hand, is super religious and judgmental of her father’s bedroom habits. She’s extremely upset about Jeanne, but slowly comes to the realization that she is no longer the lady of the court. And through her eyes, we get to see the arrival of the king’s son’s new wife, Marie Antoinette. The portrayal of Marie Antoinette was largely sympathetic–she was married at 14 and was still a child, completely unprepared for court intrigue. And as she matured and started realizing the political climate of France, it was too late, and she had to make the best of a bad situation.
While I didn’t like Adelaide as a character, I did understand why her perspective was important. She has a closer relationship to Marie Antoinette than Jeanne did (which was basically none at all), and it was important to see that both the conservative and more free-living factions of the court fell into the exact same trap and were blinded to the excess of the court while the people of France were starving. Adelaide fought back against what she saw as sexual excess, but didn’t have any understanding of the excess that is jewels and servants and fancy food and gowns and parties that cost exorbitant amounts of money. Because Versailles was so insulated from reality and from non-nobility, nobody saw the revolution coming in any faction of the court. People got really good at surviving and even thriving in the narrow society of Versailles, and that’s all they saw. It was an interesting perspective, especially in light of more modern discussions of social media silos, where people tend to interact mostly with information that confirms their own viewpoints or identities.
I’ve enjoyed this trilogy so much, and greatly enjoyed learning about the women of the French court that you don’t learn about in your average history class. Sally Christie brought Versailles to life, in all its wit and beauty and venom.
If you’re interested in reading The Enemies of Versailles for yourself, it’s your lucky day! As part of the tour, I’m giving away a copy of the book to one lucky winner (US/Canada only). To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.