Posted in 18th Century French Revolution Reviews

review: The Enemies of Versailles

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie The Sisters of Versailles (my review) The Rivals of Versailles (my review) The third in Sally Christie’s Versailles trilogy, The Enemies of Versailles is told by two women close to King Louis XV: his daughter, Adélaïde, and his last mistress, Madame du Barry. While The Sisters of Versailles focused on Louis’ early life (and secession of sister-mistresses) and The Rivals of Versailles was a bit extreme on the sexual depravity of the King, this story showed a wider view of the messy political situation in France shortly before the Revolution. The enemies are, of course, the two protagonists of the story, but also the enmity between du Barry and Marie Antoinette, as well as Adélaïde and “Antoinette”—and many…

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Posted in 18th Century America American Revolution First Line Friday

First Line Friday: 3/10/17

“The mansion on the hill shone like a lighthouse.” ALEX & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz “1777. Albany, New York. As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival those of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. Still, Eliza can barely contain her excitement…

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Posted in 18th Century

upcoming: The Enemies of Versailles

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie March 21, 2017 BOOK DESCRIPTION (My review will be posted in March.) In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress. “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.” After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a…

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Posted in 18th Century Reviews

review: The Rivals of Versailles

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie Amazon / Goodreads / Author Website Following on the heels of The Sisters of Versailles, Rivals continues the story of Louis XV’s mistresses with perhaps the most well-known–Madame de Pompadour–and those who wish to supplant her. Jeanne Poisson was a common-born beauty whose glittering future was foretold when she was 9-years-old by a soothsayer: she would be be loved by a king and become the most powerful woman in the land. This she clings to even after marriage and a child. The story chronicles her triumphs, failures and everything in between as she tries to hold onto an amorously insatiable king who falls further into debauchery as the years pass. Among the rivals are Rosalie, a lady-in-waiting to…

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Posted in 18th Century Reviews

review: The Sisters of Versailles

The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie Amazon / GoodReads / Author Website Early in the reign of France’s Louis XV–before the infamous Madame de Pompadour and the hated Madame du Barry–a series of sisters captured the young King’s heart. Of the five Nesle sisters, all but one became mistress to Louis the Well-Beloved. This sister is the only one who lived beyond the French Revolution, and this is her story through letters and a collection of chapters written in first person by each sister. Because there are five different perspectives, each character has the chance to introduce the reader to her world–and though they were sisters, they were vastly different. Louise de Mailly-Nesle (Comtesse de Mailly), the eldest, was beautiful, demure, and a bit…

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Posted in 18th Century Reviews

review: Wicked Company

Wicked Company by Ciji Ware In mid-Eighteenth century London, during the early reign of King George III, our protagonist, Sophie McGann is the daughter of a Scottish printer and bookseller. Forced to make her way, she employs her talents as a printer and playwright in the cut-throat arena of the Drury Lane theater and its competitor, Covent Garden. Sophie’s guarded, though pleasant, personality serves her well as a single female in a male dominated world, though cannot keep trouble completely at bay. She must make decisions that advance her best interests, but do not upset her conscientious nature. She is by no means the only ‘petticoat playwright’ during her time–in fact she is quite enamored of the celebrated Frances Sheridan, wife of playwright Richard Sheridan–and…

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Posted in 18th Century Reviews

review: Powder and Patch

Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer Georgette Heyer is in a class all her own with her quirky and witty ‘romance’ novels. Nothing like today’s books of the genre, which are over-sexed and rarely authentic, the antiquated cadences and dialect simply cannot be matched by contemporary writers. It’s really very interesting to see the turns of phrase used, even if they sound a little silly to us now. This is perhaps my favorite part of Heyer’s writing style, though I enjoy her characters and their unpredictable escapades as well. Page 15 “By God sir, you are a damned dull dog!” Powder and Patch is set in early Georgian England, rather than the Regency era, but the mannerisms are nearly the same, though the dress is…

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Posted in 18th Century 19th Century Articles

Fact and Fiction: Emma, Lady Hamilton

Emma Hamilton, celebrated mistress of British Naval hero, Horatio Nelson, is only a minor character in A Royal Likeness by Christine Trent, but made a positive impression on this reader. I could tell there were interesting reasons behind the differing opinions of the lady by characters in the book, and an intriguing untold story of her life. After speaking with author Leslie Carroll, who has a published novel on Emma’s life titled TOO GREAT A LADY (written under the pseudonym Amanda Elyot), I found that some information I’ve read (non-fiction, even) is erroneous, and thus I am reluctant to pass it along here. Emma Hamilton is, however, a lady I look forward to learning more about. Along with the beautiful paintings I am displaying here,…

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Posted in 18th Century Austen Reviews

review: Jane Austen’s First Love

Jane Austen’s First Love by Syrie James At the age of fifteen, Jane Austen spends a summer holiday with her elder brother at his fiancé’s home in Kent. Five families come together to celebrate the upcoming nuptials and along the way many, including Jane, discover much about love and relationships. There she meets a young man who both exasperates and thrills her, leading her to learn life lessons that greatly encourage and influence her writing. Edward Taylor is, as the author has considerately detailed in her notes, a real person in Jane Austen’s life, for she mentions him in correspondence to her sister, Cassandra. Facts cleverly meshed with a pleasant series of youthful summer pursuits set the background for this fanciful tale, complete with a…

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Posted in 18th Century French Revolution Reviews

review: Annette Vallon

Annette Vallon: A Novel of the French Revolution by James Tipton Set during the tumultuous French Revolution, this story revolves around a young upper-class, though untitled, lady named Annette Vallon. An unfortunate incident during her youth causes her to shy away from typical female society and helps build her character as an independent, brave woman. She meets the English poet Wordsworth and, for a time, they defy the obstacles that set them apart: family, distance and the Revolution. While they must be parted Wordworth works on his writing with Annette as his muse, and she focuses on saving innocent lives threatened by the new French regime. I’ve read books on Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte, but this is the first one that really shows what…

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Posted in 18th Century Georgian England Reviews

review: The Prince and the Quakeress

The Prince and the Quakeress Fourth Book in the Georgian Saga by Jean Plaidy This is the story of the young George III, when he was not yet considered significant—only the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Frederick, and grandson of King George II. If you’re not familiar with England’s King Georges’, you may find parts of the story hard to follow, as it alludes to characters from the previous books in the Georgian series, Queen in Waiting and Caroline the Queen. Old King George II is in his winter years, bad tempered and constantly lamenting his deceased wife, Queen Caroline, whom he reveres more in death than he did in life. At the forefront is Frederick, Prince of Wales, his wife Augusta, and…

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Posted in 18th Century Georgian England Reviews

review: Perdita’s Prince

Perdita’s Prince Georgian Saga #6 by Jean Plaidy This installment of Plaidy’s Georgian Saga comes directly after The Third George and begins with the Prince of Wales’ coming-of-age. At seventeen he is still kept under lock and key, the king controlling his life down to the food he is allowed. When given an inch of freedom, young George runs head-first into debauchery, finding–to the King’s horror–friends in the enemy camp, Charles James Fox, Uncle Cumberland, and anyone of the Whig political party. He sets up an actress as his mistress and lives, purposely, a completely opposite lifestyle from the King. Perdita is Mary Robinson’s part in Shakespeare’s play, The Winter’s Tale, in which the King had decided to make a rare appearance with his heir….

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