Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tell a Tale: Mistress of the Sun

A second installment of Sandra Gulland brilliance~

Summary (from Goodreads):
Set against the magnificent decadence of the seventeenth-century French court, Mistress of the Sun begins when the eccentric young Louise falls in love with a wild white stallion and uses ancient dark magic to tame him. This one desperate action of her youth shadows her throughout her life, changing it in ways she could never imagine.

Unmarriageable, and too poor to join a convent, Louise enters the court of the Sun King as a maid of honor, where the King is captivated by her athleticism and her striking grace. As their love unfolds, Louise bears Louis four children, is made a duchess, and reigns unrivaled as his official mistress until dangerous intrigue threatens her position at court, her place in Louis's heart, and even her life. Louise must decide where she can best find the peace and fulfillment her soul has longed for, and which she has traveled so far to find.

A riveting love story with a captivating mystery at its heart, Mistress of the Sun resurrects a fascinating female figure from the shadows of history and illuminates both the power of true and perfect love and the rash actions we take to capture and tame it.

I think it must be incredibly challenging to write about the life of a real life character.  To make us adore and become sympathetic to a mistress is no easy feat, but Sandra Gulland finds a way to make you love the central figure, Louise de La Valliere.

Louise is strong and smart but unlike many other heroines in historical fiction her personality is not exaggerated into an unbelievable super woman.  Also, unlike many typical mistresses to royalty from history I think Louise truly loved King Louis (the Sun King).  That doesn't make her role in his life any less tempestuous but it was just the reality of the times.  That's what kings did (maybe they still do????).

The court of 17th century France was, like many others, complicated and treacherous.  The fact that a young girl from a simple life was able to reach such heights at that time with minimal deceit  is fascinating in itself.  She is wild and passionate but she is also genuine and sensitive.

Sandra Gulland is an excellent researcher which is evidenced in the details of the novel.  What's wonderful about her writing is that she makes this part of the story.  She doesn't show off her knowledge or try to impress you with miniscule details that have no bearing on the story. 

It would have been very difficult for Gulland to top her acclaimed Josephine B Trilogy but this book definitely lives up what you would expect from her.

File:Louise Françoise de la Baume Le Blanc, duchesse de La Vallière et de Vaujours.jpg
Louise de La Valliere
 Do you have a favourite royal court you like to read about?  French, English, Spanish???  How do you feel about royalty, then and now?  Why do we look up to them?  Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts~

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