I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel by Sally ChristieThe Rivals of Versailles: A Novel by Sally Christie
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles #2
Published by Atria Books
Published on: April 5, 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also in this series: The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel
Also by this author: The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel

About the Book

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.

 

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I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel by Sally ChristieThe Sisters of Versailles: A Novel by Sally Christie
Series: The Mistresses of Versailles #1
Published by Atria Books
Published on: September 1, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chapters Indigo
Rating:
Also in this series: The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel
Also by this author: The Rivals of Versailles: A Novel

About the Book

Goodness, but sisters are a thing to fear.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best feet—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push sweet, naïve Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, she and three of her younger sisters—ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power as each becomes the king’s favorite for a time.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

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Reading List - April 2016

It’s been a pretty good month for me in terms of reading.  I was able to tackle five books once again, but unfortunately two of them didn’t really do it for me and as a result I didn’t finish them.  But even then, I’m still pretty happy to be back reading with some regularity once again.  Fingers crossed that I can keep this up in the months to come.  So let’s check out my Reading List for April 2016!

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Shadow on the Crown: A Novel by Patricia Bracewell | #BookReviewShadow on the Crown: A Novel by Patricia Bracewell
Series: Emma of Normandy #1
Published by Penguin Books
Published on: December 31, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 432
Format: Audiobook
Source: Personal Copy
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About the Book

A rich tale of power and forbidden love revolving around a young medieval queen

In 1002, fifteen­-year-old Emma of Normandy crosses the Narrow Sea to wed the much older King Athelred of England, whom she meets for the first time at the church door. Thrust into an unfamiliar and treacherous court, with a husband who mistrusts her, stepsons who resent her and a bewitching rival who covets her crown, Emma must defend herself against her enemies and secure her status as queen by bearing a son.

Determined to outmaneuver her adversaries, Emma forges alliances with influential men at court and wins the affection of the English people. But her growing love for a man who is not her husband and the imminent threat of a Viking invasion jeopardize both her crown and her life.

Based on real events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the perfect antidote to Tudor fatigue,Shadow on the Crown is packed with nonstop action, romance, and plenty of deliciously creepy Gothic flavor.

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I received this book for free from From the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Winter Palace by Eva StachniakThe Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
Series: Catherine #1
Published by Bantam
Published on: January 10, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Pages: 444
Format: Paperback
Source: From the Publisher
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About the Book

From award-winning author Eva Stachniak comes this passionate novel that illuminates, as only fiction can, the early life of one of history’s boldest women. The Winter Palace tells the epic story of Catherine the Great’s improbable rise to power—as seen through the ever-watchful eyes of an all-but-invisible servant close to the throne.

Her name is Barbara—in Russian, Varvara. Nimble-witted and attentive, she’s allowed into the employ of the Empress Elizabeth, amid the glitter and cruelty of the world’s most eminent court. Under the tutelage of Count Bestuzhev, Chancellor and spymaster, Varvara will be educated in skills from lock picking to lovemaking, learning above all else to listen—and to wait for opportunity. That opportunity arrives in a slender young princess from Zerbst named Sophie, a playful teenager destined to become the indomitable Catherine the Great. Sophie’s destiny at court is to marry the Empress’s nephew, but she has other, loftier, more dangerous ambitions, and she proves to be more guileful than she first appears.

What Sophie needs is an insider at court, a loyal pair of eyes and ears who knows the traps, the conspiracies, and the treacheries that surround her. Varvara will become Sophie’s confidante—and together the two young women will rise to the pinnacle of absolute power.

With dazzling details and intense drama, Eva Stachniak depicts Varvara’s secret alliance with Catherine as the princess grows into a legend—through an enforced marriage, illicit seductions, and, at last, the shocking coup to assume the throne of all of Russia.

Impeccably researched and magnificently written, The Winter Palace is an irresistible peek through the keyhole of one of history’s grandest tales.


REVIEW

I love historical fiction.  That being said, I always end up reading books from the same time periods which usually happens to be either Ancient Egypt, or Tudor England.  Partly due to my interest in those time periods and partly due to the absolutely saturated market of books chronicling that time period.  Try as I may, I have never been able to branch out, until I was given the opportunity to read and review The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak.  After reading this book I am extremely pleased that this was the book that I chose to broaden my horizons and read about a different time period.

The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak brings us to Imperial Russia in the 18th Century and introduces us to Catherine the Great.  But this is a very different Catherine the Great than the one that you are understandably thinking of.  Instead when we first meet Catherine, she is still just Sophie, a poor German Princess as she is brought to the Russian court of Empress Elizabeth to become the bride of the Grand Duke.  Indeed in Sophie we witness a softness and a vulnerability that isn’t really present in the woman we know her to become.

Told through the viewpoint of Varvara, which is the Russian version of Barbara, who is a cleaver orphan living in the Russian Court working as a seamstress.  Varvara soon uses her cleverness and her talent for languages when she is put to use as a spy in the palace on behalf of the Empress.  While conducting her new duties, she is put to spy on Princess Sophie, she ends up forming a friendship with the foreign Princess.  It is through this friendship that we are able to bear witness into Sophie’s eventual transformation into Catherine the Great. It was fascinating to watch Sophie’s metamorphosis and to see the events that shaped her life and as a result, her empire.

Eva Stachniak has done an absolutely masterful job at depicting one of the most intriguing time periods.  Stachniak’s writing introduces one of history’s greatest women, and while very detailed, her writing is never boring.  She is able to mix fact with fiction so well that The Winter Palace is a book I have no doubt that I will return to time and time again.

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