Author: Sally Christie
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: April 5, 2016
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "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."
My Two Cents:
"The Rivals of Versailles" is the second book in Sally Christie's The Mistress of Versailles series. In this book, we meet Jeanne Poisson who will become yet another mistress for France's King Louis XV. Stunningly beautiful, Jeanne, called Reinette, throughout the book is told from a young age that she will become the King's mistress. Rising to fame as the Marquise de Pompadour, Jeanne is a force to be reckoned with. Others we are introduced to throughout the book will try to unseat her but there's a good reason she is still so well-remembered throughout history.
This book works nicely as a standalone as the book really focuses on a new set of characters. There is Reinette as well as Rosalie de Romanet-Choiseul, Morphise, and Marie-Anne de Mailly de Coislin. Most of the narrative belongs to Reinette but we do get a chance to hear from each of these other women in the latter half of the book. They definitely have much smaller sections so we don't get to know them quite as well as we get to know Reinette, which was just fine with me - she is fascinating! I really liked how the author chose to divide up the narratives - it was almost as if she was leading the reader to pay the most attention to Reinette while relegating the other women to mere dalliances for the King.
I liked this book much better than the first book. Reinette is such a great character. The author makes her feel very accessible. It was so interesting to see how she is able to captivate the King and keep his attention for so long. Her narrative is from her point of view, which made me feel even closer to her!