2016 Book #31 – The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

91BED26SP2LTitle: The Rivals of Versailles
Author: Sally Christie
Date finished: 4/8/16
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Pages in book: 448
Stand alone or series: #2 in Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE:I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this captivating follow-up to Sally Christie’s clever and absorbing debut, we meet none other than the Marquise de Pompadour, one of the greatest beauties of her generation and the first bourgeois mistress ever to grace the hallowed halls of Versailles.
The year is 1745 and King Louis XV’s bed is once again empty. Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a beautiful girl from the middle classes. As a child, a fortune teller had told young Jeanne’s destiny: she would become the lover of a king and the most powerful woman in the land. Eventually connections, luck, and a little scheming pave her way to Versailles and into the King’s arms.
All too soon, conniving politicians and hopeful beauties seek to replace the bourgeois interloper with a more suitable mistress. As Jeanne, now the Marquise de Pompadour, takes on her many rivals—including a lustful lady-in-waiting, a precocious fourteen-year-old prostitute, and even a cousin of the notorious Nesle sisters—she helps the king give himself over to a life of luxury and depravity. Around them, war rages, discontent grows, and France inches ever closer to the Revolution.
Told in Christie’s celebrated witty and modern style, The Rivals of Versailles will delight and entrance fans as it brings to life the court of Louis XV in all its pride, pestilence, and glory.

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read the first book in this trilogy last year (also through NetGalley) and you can see my review of that one here. I really enjoyed reading the first book so I was excited when I saw the second book available recently on NetGalley! Also, this book will count towards my Book Riot 2016 Read Harder reading challenge, marking off the “read a book of historical fiction set before 1900″ since this book is set in the mid 1700’s. This book continues where The Sisters of Versailles left off, following Marie-Ann’s death. This book focuses around Jeanne -Antoinette Poisson, a commoner who is told by a fortune teller when she is young that she will someday be mistress to the king. Ever since that fateful day, her mother has focused on preparing Jeanne for one day meeting the king and becoming ensconced in his world. This means learning about this above their station, some of which Jeanne learns from her tutor Bernis after the king invites her to live at Versailles.
Unfortunately, Jeanne’s miscarriages make her sick and after 4 years of being King Louis XV’s mistress she is advised against getting pregnant again because it might kill her. Every one thinks that this means the end of Jeanne’s reign over the king’s heart but she somehow manages to stay the center of his life for the next 15 years, arranging ways for the king to exercise his lust (with others) without her losing her importance in his life. And while there are a number of threats over the years and no shortage of plotting on manipulation that must occur on her part, in the end she is the victor every time and maintains her friendship with the king. She becomes one of the most powerful women in the history of France because even though she isn’t physically intimate with the king he continues to use her as his most trusted adviser throughout their friendship.
Overall I really liked this book. I think that it is especially interesting because these books are based on real events. And I just love that the author’s site has pages talking about each of the characters in the book that reference where the information on their character came from and what historical basis exists for the events that happen in the book. Same as with the first novel, I didn’t want to put this book down. Everything that you could want in a book is in this story: sex, betrayal, intrigue, war, love, sickness, and death. The author did a great job in this novel of switching between points of view and she really brought the characters to life. I felt bad for Jeanne for most of the book, she spent her whole childhood with this idea that she would be mistress to the king and she loved him so much but she wasn’t able to be close to him in all the ways she wanted. Her character evolves in an interesting way through the course of the novel, she definitely changes and hardens over her life and the reader can see that clearly. Towards the end Louis’ tastes in girls become embarrassingly young and Jeanne is understandingly uncomfortable with the things she has to do to keep her position in Louis’ life secured but she does it anyways. I thought that was a strong example of how changed she is by her life at Versailles. Just overall an engrossing read.

The bottom line: Just an awesome read with everything a reader could want from a novel. I didn’t want to stop reading this one for even a minute, can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy to be released! Great read!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page