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Mistress of the Sun: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Mistress of the Sun: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Sandra Gulland(Author)

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Book details

  • PDF | 400 pages
  • Sandra Gulland(Author)
  • Touchstone; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
  • English
  • 2
  • Literature & Fiction

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Review Text

  • By Lilly Flora on June 4, 2008

    In truth I thought never to see another novel by Sandra Gulland after her Josephine B. trilogy, because it was such a spectacular achievement both in writing and research (down to the footnotes which explained every little fact.)Since there was such a large publishing gap I had thought it was to be a life's achievement worthy of any great author. I was wrong."Mistress of the Sun", Gulland's new novel, is quite simply a work of literary brilliance. A novel filled with light. Centered on the life of Louise de Valliere, who arose from the lowest ranks of the country aristocracy to become the mistress of the Sun king, Louis XIV.It is clear from the first chapter, when Louise (nicknamed Petite) at six years old tames a wild horse no one else can come near to her will that she is more than an ordinary girl. Precocious, graceful as a sawn and full of love and light she enchants her family. But the horse causes the death of her father it leaves her without speech or desire for anything and she sent into the care of a nunnery. However, because of her mothers second marriage Louise is denied the religious life she believes she wants and becomes instead a lady in waiting to the duc d'Orleans eldest daughter, who is believed to be the young king's intended. When plans for the marriage fall through and the duc dies; Louise does the rebuffed bride to be a service for which she is recommend for service in the palace to Henrietta, sister of the English king Charles II and wife to the new duc d'Orleans, the French king's brother.It is here, in the glittering court were she will meet the King, a man she much admires but can never learn to reconcile with Louis, who she loves. Or their desire and passion with her religion.And she soon discovers the King has needs the ordinary man would not have-emotions and desires that a simple man would learn to regulate. Eventually Louise finds her great love slipping away as the King emerges to her more and more and Louis less and less...but perhaps this transformation is helped along a little by means not natural? By a new rival who was once a great friend?This is a novel of passion, god, fallacy, jealousy fears, grief, evil, and love in its many forms. It is the tale of an extraordinary love, and an extraordinary woman who gave her all for love but in the end discovered that passion can follow many different courses. And the little hint of mystery about it is just enough to make me want to start an extensive research project on the Sun King and his women.Though unlike the Josephine B. series it is written in third person, Gulland loses none of her magical, sometimes fairy-tale style of writing in the change, nor any of her ability to cram in facts and oddities of the time without distracting from the story by any means. The little things you will learn in this novel will astound you about the time, as will the love story move you and Louise's dominating courage inspire.I enjoyed this novel immensely and was hugely touched by the emotion that poured out of it. It is clear that Gulland was devoted to her subject and took her time to properly tell the story of this very special woman, who has far too often been categorized as just another royal mistress.This is (for me) obviously a five star novel. I was unable to put it down once I picked it up and was even up a good portion of the night with it. I have high hopes for Sandra Gulland's next novel and owe her a debt of thanks for teaching me so much French history in such an enjoyable way!(On a side note "Mistress of the Sun" also tells the tale of the making of the simple country château of Versaie into the great seat of France Versailles, though not in great detail. If you'd like to know more about that I refer you to "To Dance with Kings" by Rosalind Laker.)

  • By Luan Gaines on June 7, 2008

    Gulland pens a passionate account of the love affair of Louise de la Valliere, a commoner with few aspirations, and the Sun King, Louis XIV of France. Raised in poverty, "Petite", a pale and slender child, is clever, curious a talented horsewoman. Gentling the great white stallion, Diablo, purchased by her beloved father in her youth, Louise dabbles in the dark arts to master the willful animal, only the beginning of a lifetime laced with devout prayers for guidance and a deliberate will to follow her passions. Once she finds herself in the unlikely position of maid of honor to Louis' brother Philippe's wife, Petite is on a fated path, an affair with Louis that results in royal offspring and years of subterfuge in a contentious court, where spies are everywhere and enemies pounce on opportunity.Given her slightness of figure and low profile in Henrietta's assemblage, even Louise is surprised to capture the king's attention, fueled by a meeting years before when she thought him a poacher. Carrying that fanciful and romanticized image in her heart, Louise is easily seduced by the urbane and amorous Louis, his Spanish wife ignorant of court nuance, clinging to her language and habits. The soon-to-be king's paramour learns quickly of the dangers of court intrigue and the constant machinations of those drawn to power, one the author's most successful themes in this novel, a pervasive atmosphere of treachery and risk where the uninitiated are easy prey to sophisticated schemers. Yet the ambivalence of this protagonist is stunning, an obsessive devotion to prayer and God's favorable intervention while pursuing a radical path as consort to the king, building falsehood upon falsehood and the dislocation of self that ultimately occurs. History is littered with the children of such royal dalliances.But Gulland's focus is on Louise and the terrible cost of her love for the Sun King. After years of affection, the king reveres Louise, but is still a man in thrall to the charms of women; such betrayals are common at court, especially the decadence of Louis' reign, Louise face to face with her moral quandary, the condition of her soul and the future of her children. Religion becomes more of an imperative as the years unfold, Louise no longer the love-struck girl. She faces hard choices, burdened by the decisions of her youth: "Sin was in her; she knew that. But she would not give way this time." Like the great white stallion she once tamed, Louise rises above her station in life, the title bestowed by the king and the home that makes its own historical imprint, a woman unable to deny love and its demands, finding peace at last, grief assuaged by humility. Gulland does a wonderful job, emphasizing the few options open to a woman of no means and impressive spirit, imbued with the religious devotion that defines the great European powers, carving an extraordinary character from the fragments of the past to claim her place in history. Luan Gaines/ 2008.


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