Book review: The Hurlyburly’s Husband. I love France #92

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The Hurlyburly’s Husband

The Hurlyburly's Husband

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
The Hurlyburly’s Husband
Jean Teulé
Translated by Alison Anderson
Publisher: Gallic Books
US Pub. Date: April 15, 2014
Originally published in French in 2008

PagesPB, 340
Historical fiction

Source: Received
from the publisher


Grand Prix du roman historique (2008)

Buy the book

= also available as ebook


This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

   books-on-france-14 2014 historical fiction New author challenge


new eiffel 5

As you know if you follow this blog, my reviews focus more and more on French literature or at least on topics related to France. With that in mind, I approached Gallic Books, who offer “The best of French in English” as their motto says. And they graciously already mailed me two historical novels, my favorite genre. Thanks Gallic Books, I really appreciate!

It was also really neat to read this book almost at the same time as The Shadow Queen, as both books have as main characters Athénaïs de Montespan and Louis XIV, but from two very different perspectives!

Françoise Athénaïs married Louis Henri, marquis of Montespan. A few years later, Athénaïs became lady-in-waiting at the court of Versailles. There, she attracted King Louis XIV’s attention, and ended up actually his most famous mistress. History has usually ridiculed le Montespan has the most famous cuckold of all times, as he dared oppose the king.

In The Hurlyburly’s Husband however, Jean Teulé develops the whole story into a real tragicomedy, highlighting first the ardent love between Athénaïs and Louis-Henri. They never have enough of each other. The only shadow to their love is money, or the lack there of, as they live way above their means and waste it away very quickly.
Hoping to get some victory and great reward, Louis-Henri goes to war, but it ends up being a great disaster. Chapter 6 presents a typical French graphic scene, with some black humor characteristic of Jean Teulé.

Their blackened chests now exposed, the marquis’s soldiers, once held close by fair demoiselles, fell together on the sand in a hideous parody of the act of love.

So to remedy to their financial situation, she accepts to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. When she tries to tell her husband the danger she may soon fall in, he doesn’t get it.  When he finally discovers her wife got pregnant by the King’s doing, he starts publicly criticizing the Sun King.
Everyone around him tries to tell him how lucky he is, to have his wife so pleasing to the king, that he can take advantage of the situation, as so many husbands before him did, and finally become really rich.
But Louis-Henri wants to prove to that society that real love does exist, and he does all kinds of crazy things to protest and remain true to their love.
To the end of his life, he remains faithful to his love, and tries by all means to have his revenge against the king, as the stubborn Gascon he is -in France, they do have a reputation to be very stubborn!

He has but one failing: a stubborn love.

I really enjoyed a lot the originality of the novel, as comedy and tragedy are intertwined to present the story from an unusual facet.
As a reader, I wanted at the same time to laugh at Louis-Henri and cry with him.
The style is often totally hilarious, under the guise of seriousness. It can thus be super romantic or awfully gruesome. And the ending of the book is completely macabre.

There are scenes of utter derision, for instance at the theater in chapter 18, describing the sickly dauphin of Spain (Future Charles II) in chapter 39, or when Louis-Henri witnesses what the King does with his mistresses, through a spyglass (chapter 43).

There’s even a funny passage of self-humor I believe on page 225. The author describes the Seigneur de Teulé as “that wretched nobleman -a ruffian and a counterfeiter”. But note that the author himself is called Teulé!

All the main historical elements are present, including the controversial and maybe legendary one of Athénaïs taking part in black masses to try to keep the love of the King, and the famous Poison Affair, maybe orchestrated by her with the help of the infamous “La Voisin“, fortune teller, poisoner, and alleged sorceress.

The 17th century is supposedly the dirtiest period in French history, and you can really smell the stench between the lines! The hygiene of the time was  horrendous, and Teulé conveys this quite well.

The English title of the novel comes from the name of one of Athénaïs’s hairdo, called à la hurluberlu.
There’s a fascinating interview with the author at the end of the book, as well as reading group questions.

VERDICT: I highly recommend this unique historical fiction. Hilariously funny, gruesome, macabre, and graphic, it is a worthy witness to great French modern literature revisiting famous and infamous royal history.


A man, his wife – and the King that came between them. The Marquis de Montespan and his new wife, Athénaïs, are that very rare thing: a true love-match. But love is not enough to maintain their hedonistic lifestyle, and the couple soon face huge debts. Then Madame de Montespan is offered the chance to turn their fortunes round, by becoming lady-in-waiting to the Queen at Versailles. Too late, Montespan discovers that his ravishing wife has caught the eye of King Louis XIV. Everyone congratulates him on his new status of cuckold by royal appointment, but the Marquis is broken-hearted. He vows to wreak revenge on the King and win back his adored Marquise. At once comic and poignant, Jean Teulé’s extraordinary novel restores a ridiculed figure from history to his rightful position of hero: a man who loved his wife and dared challenge the absolute power of the Sun King himself. [provided by the publisher]


‘A bawdy romp one minute, a gruesome tragedy the next. The writing is beautiful, witty, grisly and moving, and reeks of authenticity.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Fascinating…I rooted wildly for the brave Marquis’ Wendy Holden, Daily Mail

‘This brilliantly boisterous, charmingly Gallic tragicomedy is a riveting tale of love, sex and power which gives new dignity to one of history’s most ridiculed figures and helps restore him to deserved heroic status.’ Lancashire Evening Post

‘Dazzling’ Le Point

‘Tremendous fun’ Liz Loves Books



Jean TeuléJean Teulé lives in the Marais with his partner, the French film actress Miou-Miou.
An illustrator, filmmaker and television presenter,
he is also the prize-winning author of ten books including one based on the life of Verlaine.
He has also written biographies of Rimbaud and François Villon.
Gallic Books has published three of Teulé’s novels:
the black comedy The Suicide Shop
and two novels based around true historical events: the terrifying  Eat Him If You Like and bawdy tragi-comedy The Hurlyburly’s Husband.
Read an interview with Jean Teulé.
View all books by Jean Teulé or discover more Gallic authors




Just a reminder guys:
If you link your own post on France,
please if possible
include the title of the book or topic in your link:
name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):
example : me @ myblog (Camus)


Book review: Mistress of the Revolution

Mistress of the Revolution

Mistress of the Revolution

Mistress of the Revolution
Catherine DelorsPublisher: Dutton Adult
Pub. Date: 2008
ISBN: 978-0525950547

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance?
public library

Buy Link

This book counts for the following Reading Challenge:



rating system


A few years ago, I discovered Catherine Delors through her excellent historical novel For The King, so I decided to read her previous one, Mistress of the Revolution.

The book opens in London in 1815, about 20 years after the French Revolution. The narrator Gabrielle de Montserrat reminisces about these events and the following years by writing about them.

After difficult beginnings in the Auvergne region, she is taken to Paris and presented at the court of Versailles, where she is introduced to all the intrigues and affairs. She is helped financially by Villers (a Duchess’s son) and becomes his lover. He gets politically involved, on the wrong side when monarchy is soon to be ended.

Gabrielle is by now lady-in-waiting to the Countess of Provence (the king’s sister-in-law). She ends up getting arrested herself. Will she humble herself, and try to get help from Pierre-André, the sweet heart of her youth, a commoner who made his way up and has now strong political influence in Paris? Would he or even could he really help her?

I’ll let you read the book to figure out.

I found the novel to be somewhat longer than needed. However, the author did an amazing job on the historical background, before, during, and after the French Revolution, with all the main characters and political parties of the time, basically from 1784 to 1794, including a bit on Napoleon.

There were fantastic descriptions of life at Versailles, reflecting quite well it seems what the common French people thought about Marie-Antoinette once she became queen. There’s hardly any sympathy at all shown here in the narrative toward her.

There was maybe a bit too much of romance elements in this historical novel for me, but it will make it dearer to those who like the mix of romance and historical novel.


A singular new voice in historical fiction. A time of decadence in a country embroiled in revolution. An unforgettably high-spirited heroine.

Set in opulent, decadent, turbulent revolutionary France, Mistress of the Revolution is the story of Gabrielle de Montserrat. An impoverished noblewoman blessed with fiery red hair and a mischievous demeanor, Gabrielle is only fifteen when she meets her true love, a commoner named Pierre-André Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, choosing for her instead an aging, wealthy baron.

Widowed and a mother while still a teen, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be swept up in the emerging cataclysm. As a new order rises, Gabrielle finds her own lovely neck on the chopping block and who should be selected to sit on the Revolutionary Tribunal but her first love, Pierre-André.

Replete with historical detail, complex and realistic characters (several of whom actually existed), and a heroine who demands and rewards attention, Mistress of the Revolution is an unforgettable debut. [Goodreads]





Author of Mistress of the Revolution and For the King (publication date: July 8, 2010).

Both are historical novels set in Paris around the time of the French Revolution.
Catherine Delors was born and raised in France.
She is also an attorney with an international practice, and splits her time between Paris, London and Los Angeles.
Visit her blog, Versailles and more, at [Goodreads]



Teaser Tuesdays (Nov. 17): Mistress of the Revolution

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays 

is a weekly bookish meme,
hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Today, my Teasers are from

Mistress of the RevolutionClick on the book cover to know more about it

The Duchess and I left early on a fine Sunday morning for Versailles. I was attired in all of my new finery. She wore a black Court gown and the rest of her diamonds. Aimée, much to her chagrin, had to remain in Paris. Children, except those of the royal family, were not seen at Court. I dried her tears and assured her that I would be back very soon.
After the carriage had made its way through an army of street vendors peddling cheap mementos in front of the Palace, we passed two successive sets of gates and alighted in the courtyard reserved for Duchesses. I was awed by the size of the palace. Its wings seemed to extend forever on each side of the central building.
page 108

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

(make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away!
You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too,
so that other TT participants can add the book
to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!