Posted in 17th Century Reviews

review: The Courtier’s Secret

The Courtier’s Secret by Donna Russo Morin Jeanne du Bois is the daughter of a minor noble in the court of Louis XIV. Fresh from convent school, she feels very out of place among the sycophants of Versailles. Her father, always scheming to find a way to further his position, plans to use Jeanne as a marriage pawn no matter her own inclinations. Jeanne is determined to have a life of her making, even if she must do so in disguise, and begins a secret life. Dressed as a man she joins the king’s elite group of musketeers, and her adventures lead her on the trail of a plot to murder the queen. The best thing about this book is the detailed descriptions of the…

Continue Reading...
Posted in 17th Century Restoration Reviews

review: Dark Angels

Dark Angels by Karleen Koen When her affianced suddenly married one of her closest friends, lady-in-waiting Alice Verney traveled to France to serve Charles II’s sister, Henriette–married toMonsieur, Louis XIV’s brother, and known asMadame in the French court. Leaving Queen Catherine and her homeland, she found great consolation in waiting upon her new mistress, but even this was soon to come to an end. A plot centered on the mysterious death of Madamebecame a further threat when Henri Ange, a dangerous man from Monsieur’s household, showed up in England skulking around the Queen’s household. Alice, along with the Queen’s Captain of the Guard, Richard Saylor, began searching for the man they believed poisoned Princess Henriette. The Duke of Buckingham, having ties with Ange, and with…

Continue Reading...
Posted in 17th Century Reviews

review: Before Versailles

Before Versailles by Karleen Koen Louis XIV is a young king on the cusp of power when Cardinal Mazarin dies, leaving the realm in the hands of Nicholas Fouquet and other trusted ministers. Louis was changing from inexperienced and naive to a man his musketeers deemed a worthy king. We see his fumbled attempts at courting his brother’s wife and the resulting mess, as well as his budding love for Louise de La Valliere. This is not a love story of either women, but an intriguing version of events from many points of view, most importantly Louis’s. It’s also a mystery, as there are two series of events that present several possible culprits which are revealed later in the book. These conspiracies were new to…

Continue Reading...
Posted in 17th Century Restoration Reviews

review: Rochester, the Mad Earl

Rochester, the Mad Earl by Kathleen Kellow The adventures and exploits of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, are resurrected in this 1957 novel by Jean Plaidy, under one of her lesser-known pseudonyms—Kathleen Kellow. Rochester’s father, Henry Wilmot, was responsible for cutting the Roundhead-pursued Charles II’s curls, helping him escape the country incognito during Cromwell’s rule. The 1st Earl of Rochester was steadfast by his side, while his wife ran a Puritan household in order to hang on to some family assets. Though he died before Charles was restored to the throne, the King did not forget the man who shared his impoverished exile. Rochester, true to the Royalist cause, came of age just as the King returned to England, and thus was rewarded with…

Continue Reading...
Posted in 16th Century 17th Century Reviews

review: The Countess

The Countess by Rebecca Johns One would expect a novel on the life of Erzsebet Bathory to lean toward the horror genre of literature, but this surprisingly sympathetic retelling of her life is anything but gory and cringe-worthy. Starting out with a letter from her priest-jailor at the end of her life, in which she is being held captive in a lonely tower cell, the reader knows from beginning that she is not an innocent. Looking back on her life through a letter written to her son, we get a first-hand account of how she came to be known as the Blood Countess with stretched truths and rumors. Erzsebet was the eldest daughter of an affluent family in Hungary and married well. Though her husband…

Continue Reading...