Review #54: Before Versailles

Before Versailles:

A Novel of Louis XIV

by

Karleen KOEN

460 pages

Publication:  June 28, 2011 – Crown

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

You may have noticed that lately, I’ve been getting reconciled with my Frenchness and have been reading more books related to France. This historical novel was very enjoyable, though for some reasons, it took me a while to read without having to go back and forth to the list of characters given at the beginning of the book. There are not that many characters though, and the relationships are rather easy.

I enjoyed the portrait of the hero, Louis XIV the Sun King, given here as during the first years of his reign. The focus is on the beginning of his asserting power, his support of the arts, and his sentimental life – that’s only the beginning, you can read on wikipedia (only on the French version – how funny, the English version does not have the lists!) the record number of his KNOWN mistresses and illegitimate children – impressive…

The characters sounded true to life, the topic was well researched, the descriptions beautiful – I have to add the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte if ever I go back to France one day!

Louise de la Vallière was presented in a very positive light, probably true to life, though it is sometimes difficult to imagine that there were indeed in court people genuinely not interested in honor and money.

There was a good flow to the book. It started a bit slowly, but with suspense and quality getting better and better. There was an interesteing twist with the man in the iron mask.

I would say Koen is much much better than Philippa Gregory, but not as good as Michelle Moran – her Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution being so far the best Historical novel on France I have ever read, but wait, I’m soon going to discover Catherine Delors, as I won a free copy of For the King!

The author gave me the desire to read more about Louis XIV when I was done, so this is always a good point. Sounds like she may even write a novel on another mistress of the king’s mistresses: Madame de Montespan. I’m ready !

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

New York Times bestselling author Karleen Koen offers another delightful historical novel that will transport you to another time and place.

Before Versailles is the luscious, sweeping story of the young Louis XIV in his first year as king of France. Told in the alternating perspectives of the young king and his first love, the woman who would become his mistress, Karleen Koen’s newest weaves a portrait of court and country in turmoil with the legends of this colorful period in history, including that of the mysterious man in the iron mask. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This is her self-presentation on Goodreads:

“My childhood was filled with glorious books, Little Women, Lad A Dog, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn. They were as real to me as the life around me, a lower middle class one in a small oil refinery town in Texas. My grandfather, an invalid, was a huge fan of the writers Frank Slaughter, Frank Yerby, and Zane Grey. By the time I learned to read, I was sneaking his square, cheap (a dime, I think) paperbacks off and reading them. Pirates. Passion. History. It has never occurred to me to write anything but historicals, a kind of time travel into other minds, other lands, other eras, other cultures, other worlds. That’s what I wish for my readers, that my books take them far away into another place and time and that they enjoy themselves there and maybe even learn an interesting fact or two. ”
My blog: http://www.karleenkoen.wordpress.com
My website: http://www.karleenkoen.net

REVIEWS BY OTHERS

“In this magnificently written and researched novel, Karleen Koen brings to vibrant life the early years and loves of the future Sun King.”–Jean M. Auel author of The Clan of the Cave Bear & The Land of Painted Caves

Before Versailles presents a grand yet intimate glimpse into the lifestyles of the rich and royal at the court of the young, virile King Louis XIV.  Words to describe the cast of characters cannot do them justice:  moral yet decadent; powerful yet endangered; larger than life yet completely human.  But there is an apt word to describe Karleen Koen’s latest novel:  Brilliant!”–Karen Harper, author of The Irish Princess

Before Versailles captivated me from start to finish! With exquisite finesse, Karleen Koen weaves history and myth into a sumptuous portrait of young Louis XIV, his intrigue-laden court, and the passionate, ambitious, often dangerous women who loved him.”–C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici [amazon]

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
DO YOU FEEL LIKE READING THIS BOOK?
HAVE YOU READ ANY OTHER GOOD HISTORICAL NOVEL ON LOUIS XIV?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUR WEEK-END 7/2-3

GOOD BOOKS FOR YOUR WEEK-END 

07/02-03/2011

This is a busy summer, with lots of students wanting to brush up their French, so I had to miss last week meme!

But you may be planning some time on the beach and wonder what book you are going to take with you. So here are some good ideas:

FICTION

The Tragedy of the Moon, by Isaac Asimov
A classic I have not read yet. Do you know this one?

The Last Time I Saw Paris, by Lynn Sheene
Another book on Paris. There are a lot these weeks, I feel almost tempted to focus on these!

The Tragedy of Arthur, by Arthur Phillips
A Shakespeare inspired book!

The Bird Sisters, by Rebecca Rasmussen
It IS connected to birds  – for bird lovers readers and more

Mr Rosenblum Dreams in English, by Natasha Solomons

Beloved Pilgrim, by Nan Hawthorne
Historical novel on the Crusade of 1101

NON-FICTION

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, by Nina Sankovitch
Literature as refuge and solace… I can’t wait to read this one!

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, by Alice Steinbach
Now, this sounds like a great smart travelogue; perfect if your wallet only allows you a stacation this year!

The Fictional 100: Ranking the Most Influential Characters in World Literature and Legend, by Lucy Pollard-Got
Short essays about our fictional friends.

On the Death and Life of Languages, by Claude Hagège
Ah ah, another book on words!

As extra, I’m reading 2 great books by Ann Patchett, Bel Canto  and State of Wonder.

And 2 other good books are waiting on my shelf: The Glass Demon, by Helen Grant and Before Versailles, by Karleen Koen.

Enjoy this new month, and watch out for my June wrap-up coming soon, with a new format!