Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV
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Before Versailles: A Novel of Louis XIV

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,279 ratings  ·  219 reviews
Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the l...more
Kindle Edition, 482 pages
Published (first published June 28th 2011)
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Koen's latest book tackles a short period in the life of a young Louis XIV. Cardinal Mazarin is dead, and Louis is now in control of the government - a government seriously short of cash - although the Superintendent of Finances sure does have a pocketful of it. Louis is newly married to Maria Teresa of Spain, but at the moment he only has lust eyes for his brother's new wife, Henriette (sister to Charles II) and Henriette definitely reciprocates the lust feelings.

Meantime Louise de La Vallière,...more
Prior to reading this novel I had no idea that this book was about the king who would be known as The Sun King – and to that end, I didn’t know anything about that man either! I had no idea what story I was walking in to, but I loved Dark Angels by Karleen Koen so I did not hesitate to jump on this one! The author made it easy for me to connect into this world because there were frequent references to King Charles II of England (the brother of one of the main characters) who I have read a lot ab...more
3.5 stars

One of my very first historical fiction reads was Karleen Koen's Through a Glass Darkly which I really enjoyed and set me on the path to reading more HF. However I'm not sure I would have continued reading HF if I'd started out with Before Versailles.

Although I did enjoy the actual story, I found the writing less than scintillating. It was an interesting period in history but overall Before Versailles didn't really grab my attention.

3.5 stars
From the time of his grandfather, Louis XVI's France has been ruled by incredibly powerful men. Men who are not the King. Cardinal Richelieu had the spiritual well-being, as well as the national treasury, tightly held in his crimson velvet-clad fist. His protégé, Cardinal Mazarin, followed in his mentor's footprints in all but one thing. This particular cardinal had the love of the Queen. Now Mazarin has died, the Dowager Queen Regent is devastated and Louis, the Fourteenth of his name, has a ch...more
While this certainly can't be qualified as a BAD book, when I turned the last page and closed the cover (yes, I still read tree-books), I could only say "Well, that's over." Not sad, not desperate for the next chapter, just resigned.

The story is interesting in a way - showing the first few months of the reign of the future Sun King of France, a crucial moment in Louis XIII's reign in which he made a definitive grab for power. At least, that's how the story ends.

(Minor spoilers in next paragraph-...more
I have been searching all summer for a book that would capture my interest enough to keep me up late reading, and I finally found one! Being a huge fan of Karleen Koen's other books, I had high hopes for this one, and it did not disappoint.

This novel covers 4 months in the early reign of Louis XIV, when he was still trying to find his way as a monarch. He starts to come into his own as a leader, deciding whom to trust, what is best for his beloved France and where his true loyalties should lie....more
Since Through a Glass Darkly I have been hoping for Karleen Koen to devote an entire novel to Louis XIV (I am a passionate fan of the Sun King). And now here it is!

The action of the novel is concentrated in a very short time, the few months that it took for the young Louis XIV to get rid of Nicolas Fouquet, the all-powerful superintendent of finances of France. In fact, the same period covered by Dumas in The Vicomte de Bragelonne. So, I was quite familiar with some of the scenes, which allowed...more
Rio (Lynne)
I was so excited to dive into this story of King Louis XIV. This story begins where Cardinal Mazarin dies and the young King begins governing France. Between love affairs "The King and his brother's wife and The King and Louise a lady of the court" you expect scandalous excitement. When the King's finance minister becomes corrupt and too powerful, you expect a page turner to see his downfall. Add in the mystery of The Man in The Iron Mask and this book should not have been put downable. So, why...more
I love Koen’s writing in this novel. Her descriptions of the characters, setting, and time period are unparalled. I felt like I was at Fontainebleau. The romance between different characters is very sensual and sparks definitely fly. Even more than this, I really enjoyed the conspiracy. I wanted to find out who the boy in the iron mask was and who was writing the letters. Throughout it all, it was a great character study of the growth of Louis XIV from a boy king to an all-powerful King ruling o...more
Blodeuedd Finland
The book is in a way not written from one POV. Sure Louise de Valliere is the main character for most of it but there is always someone else taking her is his turn to say something, or to think something. It feels not like you follow one person but like you are some sort of ghost jumping around trying to see what is going on.

The book also takes place during a few months in 1661. Lois XIV is madly in love with his sister in law Henriette and they have a relationship. Her husband Phillippe is angr...more
Deborah Sloan

Capturing the court of King Louis XIV in it's entirety is no easy task, but Karleen Koen and Crown Press Publishers have done just that including all the court intrigues whispered about for centuries in just 4 short months of his reign as a young King. Before the greatness of Versailles was established. What could inspire this King and his court to such building extremes and opulence. A young king just beginning to find himself, to understand power and the responsibility his position requires.

I remember taking French History when I was in college and being totally smitten with the story of Louis XIV, there was just so much decadence. Have you seen pictures of Versailles? The pompadours and powders, oui! And, dude, what was up with the man in the iron mask? That’s probably one of the most enduring legends from the reign of Louis XIV and still there are no definitive answers about the who or why…

Meticulously researched, this book has everything ~ mystery, intrigue, romance, lust, polit...more
3.5 Stars

There is a lot going on in this book! There's almost not enough time to even grasp everything. I can see this being the next historical series on cable. There's enough scandal and drama in this book for at least three or four seasons.

I really liked Louise from the start. She was so genuinely caring. I might have enjoyed the book more if it had really narrowed its focus down to Louise at court. But there were so many other storylines going on as well, I found myself waiting until Louise...more
Scandal, drama and intrigue; those are the main three elements of Before Versailles. It had some mystery to it as well and I love mysteries so I really liked the mystery element of Before Versailles.
I thought that Before Versailles was really interesting as I didn’t know much about King Louis XIV or French history so now I feel a lot more knowledgeable on the subject. I like reading historical novels that are set in reality for that reason. It’s based in truth so I like to read through and searc...more
Having recently read and reviewed a couple of novels set in or around Revolutionary France, it occurred to me that I’d like to learn some more about French history. I teach French, I speak French (fairly well) and I’ve spent a fair bit of time there in the last couple of years, and realised I knew relatively little about the history of this wonderful country on my doorstep, whose history is so entwined with that of Britain.
So I asked those helpful people over at Goodreads for some recommendation...more
Most history buffs know of Louis XIV. His reign shines through French history for his control of the throne and his love of art. This book tells the tale of his beginnings; before he became known as The Sun King.

It covers only 4 months of his life - the first four months of his reign before he converted Versailles to the magnificent palace it is today. He is coming into himself as a king and as a leader of men. His mentor Cardinal Mazarin has died and his brother has just married a woman who has...more
Allison G
Let me start out by saying I love Karleen Koen's writing style. Dark Angels was good but Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face were even better. After finishing this series, I discovered she had written another book - Before Versailles - so I rushed to the library to get it. The time period for this is the very beginning of Louis XIV's reign which is just BEFORE Dark Angels begins. I was a little disappointed in this book. The history was awesome, the court intrigue was fascinating and the...more
I love Historical Fiction!

Karleen Koen did not disappoint.

Before Versailles is about a young lady by the name of Louise. Louise comes to court by way of family connections and becomes a lady in waiting to one of the princesses. Louise soon learns the ways of the court of young Louis XIV. Both women and men seemed to enjoy themselves a little too much, as the court life seemed to be all sex and parties. There was a little mystery and treason thrown in the mix. Treason seems to always make for a g...more
Jean V. Naggar Literary
Houston Chronicle picked BEFORE VERSAILLES for their 2011 Texas Titles List!

“Rich with detail and action...History tells us Louis took mistresses and became the textbook example of an absolute monarch, but getting there is marvelous great fun...With a handsome ruler as charismatic as Britain’s Henry Tudor, this focused retelling of the emergence of the Sun King will attract fans of the English king as well as Francophiles.” --Library Journal, starred review, named one of Best Historical Fiction...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
I understand now why Koen has such a devoted following. This deliciously huge novel has a fantastic cast, a fabulous setting, delicious intrigue, romance, and drama. Set during 1661, after Louis' prime minister Cardinal Mazarin died, the novel follows Louise, a lady-in-waiting for the stunning, energetic, and inspiring Madame Henriette -- the king's sister-in-law.

Those who've read Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask (or seen one of the films) will immediately notice one of the stories plot lines, b...more
Originally published at Book Lovers Inc

There are two types of historical fiction. The first is the type where the main characters are nearly all fictional, but the story takes place in a historic setting. Before Versailles is the other kind. Nearly all of the characters are historic figures, but the author is using fiction in an attempt to explain events that set the stage for major forces in history. She is trying to breathe life into people we know only as royal portraits, or autocratic archet...more
Rebecca Huston
This one by Karleen Koen shifts from the world of the Verneys to that of France of Louis XIV. The heroine is Louise a young maid-of-honour in attendance to Henriette -- Minette -- the wife of Philippe d'Orleans, and sister-in-law to Louis XIV. Lots of scandal and intrigue, with a plot that uses (yet again!) the Man in the Iron Mask cliche. I found it alright, but there were some serious flaws in this one for me.

To see the longer review, please go here:
Lucrèce Françoise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I had high hopes for this book - Karleen Koen's Through a Glass Darkly is one of my all time favorite books. What a disappointment. Tons of characters, meandering plot. The big event at the end was 'ho hum' because you didn't care about the characters involved. Feels like she's setting up a sequel - but forgot to make the first one really interesting.
Jean Marie
Ms. Koen is one of those authors who just has a gift. Lyrical and gorgeous.

I've read another novel about Louise de la Valliere (Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland) and to compare this to that is very interesting. They do compliment each other. They do cast Louise into the same fashion but I felt that Koen's angle of the story was very different. While Ms. Gulland covers all of Louise's time as Louis' mistress (including the usurping of that pesky Athenais), Ms. Koen prefers to focus on the t...more
This novel depicts four months in the young life of Louis XIV just as he became King upon the death of the powerful Cardinal Mazarin in 1661. He is in a loveless marriage of convenience with his Spanish Queen, Maria Teresa, who brings boredom to court in comparison with Louis' brother Phillipe's wife, Henrietta. Of course, he finds himself falling in love with Henrietta, for a time, before he finds himself falling in love with one of her maids of honor,Louise de la Baume le Blanc. This whimsical...more
Maybe it's just that i've been reading a really long series prior to picking this up but it seemed to end too soon! Really enjoyed the characters and not knowing much of anything about Louis XIV prior to this kept me engaged and entertained.

KK - I hope you've planned a sequel : )
Uninspiring. Anti-climactic. Unfocused. Confusion. Unnecessary. Those are all words I would use to describe Karleen Koen’s “Before Versailles”. The novel about Louis XIV is wide ranged and follows the pace of a slow fizzle throughout the text. There was no clear plot. There was no clear message or theme. There was no literary devices, no imagery used to capture the read. More importantly, I asked myself on several occasions “why am I reading this subpar novel?”

Koen clearly bit off more than she...more
Donna Jo Atwood
The French court of the young Louis XIV (1641-1715) must have been as nerve-wracking as that of his great grandson Louis XVI, who was felled by the French Revolution. In this case, though, Louis XIV becomes an absolute monarch, beginning to wrest political control from his foes and starting on his way to becoming The Sun King.

But the heart of this story is a love story of sorts, if one can ascribe love to a man who is surrounds by women--and men--who expect him to stray from matrimony's path. L...more
Becky R.
I really loved reading Koen's tale of King Louis XIV and his court. Filled with intrigue and so many characters that I could hardly keep them straight, there are a number of character-driven stories going on at once. I've always wondered if the promiscuity of these monarchs was completely just due to their own personalities and appetites, or also driven by marriages that were made without their involvement at such a young age. When two young people are forced to marry, as a way of uniting two co...more
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Giveaway + Autor Guest Post 4 15 Jun 03, 2014 02:57PM  
Book Giveaways: Giveaway - Before Versailles by Karleen Koen! 1 8 Sep 14, 2012 11:32AM  
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My childhood was filled with glorious books, Little Women, Lad A Dog, Black Beauty, Little House on the Prairie, Caddie Woodlawn. They were as real to me as the life around me, a lower middle class one in a small oil refinery town in Texas. My grandfather, an invalid, was a huge fan of the writers Frank Slaughter, Frank Yerby, and Zane Grey. By the time I learned to read, I was sneaking his square...more
More about Karleen Koen...
Through a Glass Darkly (Through a Glass Darkly, #2) Dark Angels Now Face to Face OMG - That Woman!

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