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Review: Before Versailles, by Karleen Koen


Pages: 458
Original date of publication: 2011
My edition: 2011 (Crown)
Why I decided to read: I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books
How I acquired my copy: Amazon, June 2011

Set in the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, this novel follows the early period of his relationship with Louise del la Baume le Blanc, who comes to court as a teenager. Louis develops a close relationship with his brother’s wife, Henriette (younger sister of Charles II of England!); and to create a decoy and keep scandal from happening, Louise agrees to an affair with the King.

I expected this novel to be primarily about Louise, so I was disappointed in that regard. It’s told from many different points of view: Louis, Philippe, even the story of the Man in the Iron Mask comes into play, which really added nothing to the main story. The author’s depiction of Louis’s character is very story, but I didn’t quite get what we’re supposed to see in Louise. As a character, she didn’t come across as strongly as some of the lesser characters. The author describes the danger and intrigue of Louis’s court well, but the plot of the novel doesn’t unfold quite as organically as I’d hoped. I also expected this novel to be about Louise and her relationship with Louis, but there’s no real attraction between the two until more than halfway through the novel. It was very anticlimactic. It’s a shame; I enjoyed the author’s previous novel much more than this one.

Comments

Marg said…
This was my first Koen book and whilst it wasn't a perfect read I quite liked it. I am interested to read her other books now as a lot of people who have read them seemed to have been disappointed with this one!

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