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Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  392 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
This biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV offers dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world's stage. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent several transformations before she caught the heart of the king himself. Although accu ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Grove Press (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 25, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
I was intrigued by the strong-willed, highly intelligent Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who ep "Girl in the Fireplace." After reading this biography, I can see that the episode got two details right: she was nicknamed Reinette as a child, and upon her death (at age 42!) her lover King Louis XV watched the carriage bearing away her body in the rain from a balcony. Unfortunately, her character was a bit less impressive in reality than in fiction, at least according to Algrant. She was beautiful ...more
Aug 22, 2009 Kristy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written biography on one of history's most famous mistresses. I got interested in Madame de Pompadour after reading Voltaire's dedication to her in Zadig, and Algrant's book paints a well-rounded picture of Louis XV's companion and adviser for twenty years. The last fourth of the book gets a little bogged down in constant battles, broken treaties, promotions, demotions, and the poisonous atmosphere of the French court, but that really is more history's fault than Algrant's. The story of t ...more
Rebecca Huston
It's an entertaining look at one of the more notorious mistresses in French history, Louis XV's longtime flame, Madame de Pompadour. But it's not nearly as good as Nancy Mitford's biography. Still, the colour plates are pretty, and there are a few insights. Just not enough of them.

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Jan 10, 2014 Sandra rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written, Christine Pevitt Algrant gave us a very intimate look at the enigmatic mistress of Louis XV and the significant role she played in history. Jeanne Antoinette Poisson was born into a comfortable middle class family in Paris but as the author would show, there is more to her background than meets the eye. Her rise from mistress to “Prime Minister” is truly an amazing feat.

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson (Madame de Pompadour) caught the attention of King Louis XV, became his mistress
A lovely biography of a fascinating woman. Like another reviewer, I was also intrigued by Madame de Pompadour after seeing her in an episode of Dr Who. She was a strong-willed woman who managed to hang on to her title and power even after her (physical) affair with the king ended! (I don't think the Dr Who episode got much right about her, except her strength of character, her nickname as child and her departure from Versailles)

One fact I found very interesting was that only members of the royal
Feb 22, 2012 Brenda rated it liked it
A biography of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of France.

Pompadour was a fascinating woman and that only partially comes out in this routine biography. I wanted to find out the facts behind Reinette ("little queen"), the woman so enchantingly portrayed by Sophia Myles during the David Tennant years of Dr Who.

Though many of her accomplishments are dutifully outlined, it felt as though the author didn't really think much of her subject. Granted, Pompadour
Anna Sutanto
Jan 03, 2016 Anna Sutanto rated it liked it
Good description about what it takes for a women to maintain power. Brain, charm, brain, network of supporters, brain...
Neige Blanche
Apr 18, 2014 Neige Blanche rated it really liked it
A detailed overview of the era. An interesting insight into internal European colonial power struggles.
Rebecca Haslam
Jan 01, 2015 Rebecca Haslam rated it did not like it
It's taken me well over a year to finish this book, after I picked it up on the back of 'The Girl In The Fireplace' episode of Dr Who. I could barely read more than a couple of chapters at a time, and ended it putting it aside for many months while other books and life in general took over. For anyone interested in history and factual reads, this will no doubt be quite enthralling, but for me, it was far too long and I'm glad to finally be done with it.
Sarah Hodiak
Jul 26, 2014 Sarah Hodiak rated it it was amazing
I don't normally read french historical fiction but this was interesting. Madame de pampadour was a strong and secure women in a world where women are second class, even as queen. but she never tried to be more than what she was, which was a beautiful and intelligent lover and later friend to a king.
Linda Hiemstra
Jan 18, 2014 Linda Hiemstra rated it it was ok
This... took me four or five years to slug through. Honestly not entirely sure *why*. The writing isn't dry, as such - in fact, it goes through the 42 years of Madame de Pompadour's life at a fairly quick pace. Maybe that was it: there were too much names and dates and not enough of Madame de P's personality herself. She never really sparked my interest.
Worth a read if you're interested in this time period, but otherwise I'd skip it.
Mar 21, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
Can anyone recommend a good biography of Louis XV? I liked Nancy Mitford's take on Pompadour and Louis, but this one is a cold wind from the heart, so to speak. They both emerge as people you wouldn't want to know, and in Louis' case, supremely boring. At one point an early reader of Mitford's manuscript told her that she must stop referring to Louis as "perfect heaven" on every other page; well, Algrant's book is the corrective for THAT.
Sy Ferrari
Jan 28, 2010 Sy Ferrari rated it really liked it
A well-done biography of a character that is offen hide on the main line of Frech History.
Madame de Pompadour is based on all the mail of the period Luis XV' kindom, and its shows importants aspect of the way the decisions where taken (as the Treaty of Versailles - the first one).
Was on the Luis XV' kindom that the illuminist came to light, and the proximity of then o the main characater is deliteful.
Apr 02, 2010 Paula rated it liked it
A highly readable biography, full of interesting facts and anecdotes. You can actually visualize all the French court intrigue and gossip surrounding this highly controversial mistress to Louis XV. The author handles the multitude of political machinations very well, but sometimes I felt there was just a bit too much emphasis on that (difficult to leave it out though, because of the subject matter!)
Oct 10, 2011 G-phy marked it as to-read
getting ready to visit Versailles this Fall. I have only read 100 pages, but I already feel like I read the line that inspired the Doctor Who episode. Mitford says that at court it was the fashion to walk quickly with tiny steps, like a something I don't quite remember. Train? Robot?
Jun 18, 2010 Myriastevens rated it liked it
A historical fiction book that is very well written. I have learned that Louis the 14th was very private, exclusive and easily pursuaded (mostly by women). Madame Pompadour spent most of her life risking everything to stay in his good favor and keep her place in court.
Oct 26, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it
I actually became interested in reading about this French mistress of Louis XV after watching an episode of Dr. Who!! Anyway, it was a good read and helped me to understand a bit the life of the grandfather of King XVI (he who lost his head in the French Revolution).
Sep 19, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it
I have always been very curious about this women. Now that I have read about her i found her very interesting. She was very assertive,and she definatly was more than a pretty face. This book was very well written,but the subject wasn't enough to hold my intrest.
Dec 24, 2008 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoirs, french
This one was a real page turner for me. Well, except for the very boring war/battle descriptions, I pretty much skip those without losing any thing. Very good book. I liked it. It was an honest account of this remarkable woman.
Jul 02, 2007 Magid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Courtesans
Again, I think that this biography was let down by the translation, but apart from that, I wasn't too impressed. It was too meandering, lacking in detail and pace, and not juicy enough by half.
A great recounting of a historical drama, told with flair and imagination, and real affection for the characters and their all too real human failings.
Louise Boisen Schmidt
Jun 27, 2013 Louise Boisen Schmidt rated it really liked it
Great insight into a complex personality of a woman who knew how to play her surroundings and consequently left a mark on history
Sarah Clough
Hard to give this a rating really as it was more of an educational read than something I can say I enjoyed or not.
Jun 04, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Veronica Franco is my all time favorite historical figure. Madame de Pompadour ranks as a close second.
Ashleigh Marks
Mar 28, 2011 Ashleigh Marks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madame De Pompadour is one of my favourite historical people and this book did her justice!
Jan 19, 2013 Anniekramer rated it it was amazing
Enjoyed this book, although I like Nancy Mitford's more for its humor and writing style.
Apr 17, 2007 Alexandra rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at a lady with the utmost grace. Highly recommended.
Mar 02, 2009 Ruth rated it liked it
somewhat boring and drawn out.but not totally bad.
Oct 13, 2010 Elise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very informative book about Madame De Pompadour.
Feb 24, 2013 Dina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a very interesting, but long read.
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