Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Rivals of Versailles Blog Tour - Review + Q/A

Today I'm very excited to be a part of the Rivals of Versailles blog tour! I'll be participating with my review on the second title in Sally Christie's debut series, and a short Q/A with the author herself. Thank you Simon & Schuster Canada and Sally Christie for making this blog tour possible!

The Rivals of Versailles
by Sally Christie
Publisher: Atria Books
Format: Paperback
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Purchase: [Amazon] [Chapters/Indigo]
And you thought sisters were a thing to fear. In this compelling 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.

I write this before her blood is even cold. She is dead, suddenly, from a high fever. The King is inconsolable, but the way is now clear.

The way is now clear.

The year is 1745. Marie-Anne, the youngest of the infamous Nesle sisters and King Louis XV's most beloved mistress, is gone, making room for the next Royal Favorite.

Enter Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful girl from the middle classes. Fifteen years prior, a fortune teller had mapped out 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.

Enigmatic beauty, social climber, actress, trendsetter, patron of the arts, spendthrift, whoremonger, friend, lover, foe. History books may say many things about the famous Marquise de Pompadour, but one thing is clear: for almost twenty years, she ruled France and the King's heart.

Told in Christie's witty and modern style, this second book in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the world of eighteenth century Versailles in all its pride, pestilence and glory.

Last year, Book Blog Ontario had the privilege of having Sally Christie attend our annual book blogger meet up for the release of her debut novel, The Sisters of Versailles. It was pitched as a promising and exciting new trilogy focusing on the loves of King Louis XV, and as promised I found The Sisters of Versailles to be unbelievably addictive.

"A new sound greets my ears. Well, not a sound so much as something far sweeter: silence."

The Rivals of Versailles, the second title in Sally Christie's trilogy, focuses on the affair of Madame de Pompadour and Louis XV. After adoring the scandalous sisters of Rival's predecessor, I was curious to see how I'd settle into Jeanne's character. As expected from Sally Christie, she painted a realistic portrait of Madame de Pompadour as an elegant, smart, and ambitious woman, who not only had a powerful impact on Louis XV but also the arts. She was a wonder to read, and I positively enjoyed the ride Sally sent me on!

With that said, I'm highly anticipating the release of The Enemies of Versailles! Each title in this wonderful series has it's own set of unique characters, scandals, and voices. It's a must read series for fans of historical fiction.

4 / 5 Cupcakes

Q/A with Author Sally Christie

For readers who have yet to read The Sisters of Versailles: What can you tell them about your trilogy?

The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy focuses on Louis XV and his extraordinary mistresses. Even though he ruled France for most of the 18th century, Louis XV is fairly obscure and is often maligned by historians as being a king ruled by women.

But what women! From the wonderful insanity of the story of the Mailly Nesle sisters, four of whom became his mistresses, to the fabulous Madame de Pompadour, possibly the most influential royal mistress ever, and then to the Comtesse du Barry, who is perhaps my all-time favorite character, Louis’ mistresses are what define his life and they represent very rich pickings for fiction.

None of these amazing women and their fascinating lives have been the focus of any English-language fiction, and the Mistresses trilogy is a great opportunity to introduce new audiences to Louis XV and the decadence of France in the run-up to the revolution, all centered, of course, around Versailles.

What inspired you to write about the French court?

It was the story of the Mailly Nesle sisters that triggered my fascination. Their story is incredible, but so were the times: 18th century France was a time of great change as new ideas about equality and the rights of men co-existed uneasily with much older and traditional ideas. All exceedingly interesting. And the scandals and shenanigans at the royal Court of Versailles – you couldn’t make this stuff up!

How important is character development to you? What's your process?

It’s very important. To really develop a character, you have to try and get inside their head, all the while remembering that their head and worldview is very different from yours. A lazy writer might imagine an 18th century woman sitting around sewing samplers and (usually) having modern daydreams about how they want to live their lives.

It’s so important to remember that these were real people who spent their 24 hours a day doing much of what we do, with all the same petty squabbles, dreams, frustrations, boring chores, etc., and that they had the same complex inner lives that we all do, albeit framed by the conventions of their time.

What can fans of The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy expect in The Rivals of Versailles?

Rivals is a very different book from Sisters, in that it is largely the tale of one woman: the extraordinary Marquise de Pompadour, perhaps the most influential royal mistress ever. There are other voices – a couple of her many rivals have their own interludes, where they provide a distinct counterpoint to Pompadour’s view of herself – but over all this is Pompadour’s book.

There’s still plenty of scandal, intrigue and political maneuvering, but I feel this book is perhaps more introspective than Sisters – Pompadour had genuine moral dilemmas she had to face, and she faced them squarely, but on her own terms

This title was provided to the blogger by the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review. No payment was received/accept in exchange for this review/post. The blogger requests that this review not be reposted or edited with the blogger's permission. The thoughts and words expressed in this review/post are explicitly the blogger's.


  1. I've wanted to read the first in the series since I read your recap on the blogger event!

  2. Katherine Pinacho6 April 2016 at 10:16

    Great post! I'm not much of a historical fiction reader, but I'm curious about this one!

  3. Bookish Willow6 April 2016 at 10:22

    Phenomenal Q/A with the author! I've got Rivals on reserve at the library. So excited!

  4. I enjoyed that Q&A , Wendy. I also think this series sounds like something I'd enjoy as well. I think I may give it a go. Thanks!