Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Madame de Pompadour: A Life” as Want to Read:
Madame de Pompadour: A Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Madame de Pompadour: A Life

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  367 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
A sumptuous new biography of one of the most famous dangerous liaisons
When Jeanne Antoinette Poisson was a child, a fortune-teller predicted that she would one day be the mistress of a king. Born into the financial bourgeoisie that was a world apart from the royal court, the beautiful Jeanne Antoinette nonetheless fulfilled this prophecy by becoming Madame de Pompadour, t
Paperback, 310 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Madame de Pompadour, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Madame de Pompadour

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I love love love reading about the French court and its bitchiness and its excess in the time periods from Louis XIV through Louis XVI - probably my favorite time period in history to read about, actually. I adored this book more than I can say. I was wanting to pick up something written by Evelyne Lever because not only does she write French history exclusively but she is actually French and the books are translations from the original French. The translation was seamless and it was interesting ...more
Nicki Markus
Dec 25, 2011 Nicki Markus rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Madame de Pompadour has long been one of the historical figures that most interest me so I was looking forward to reading this biography of her life.

Overall, I found it to be an entertaining read. I had known of her many talents and her support of the arts, but I had not realised until reading this book how disliked she was. I'd anticipated she would have had her detractors at court, but I was intrigued to learn how much the public hated her too.

A couple of the later chapters regarding the wars
May 03, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a biography, not a novel, so I have recommended it to my friends who are interested in history, However, they may prefer a novel, so I am commencing my review with this warning, that it is not one. It is, however, a well written history book, and if anyone is really interested in the fascinating life of Madame de Pompadour, is rewarding.
Tara Kyrios
Oct 27, 2015 Tara Kyrios rated it it was amazing
Madame de Pompadour was an amazing woman. She basically ruled the country. This book was awesome and I loved all the detail.
Jen Rose
Oct 17, 2016 Jen Rose rated it it was ok
very interesting life, but the writing was a little choppy and repetitive. there were passages that focused way too much on tertiary figures in the marquise's life, and i could have done with a family tree to help sort out the royal figures.
Feb 19, 2009 Daisy rated it really liked it
Madame de Pompadour was born a middle class woman. She used her beauty and gutts to become Louis XV's mistress while herself, although a mistress, had risen to become one of the legendary women in 18 century France. Although she became powerful and had the love of Louis XV, she respected his Queen and the royal family, and she respected everyone else at court, it trully shows that being a human, you have to be nice and respect the people around you, for you never know who is going to rise above ...more
Madame de Pompadour was always just off to the side when reading about the French court -- I was familiar with the name, but I couldn't tell you a damn thing about the person.

And while I know the woman better now, there's still not much that comes to mind when I think of her.

Part of the problem is who she was and where she was -- it's kind of difficult to write personally about anything having to do with Versailles due to how masked people were.

And then there's the problem of just how many peopl
Oct 05, 2014 Kimberly rated it liked it
While vast in scope, Madame de Pompadour did not quite match the historical narrative I was hoping. Although Evelyn Lever does a thorough job highlighting the intrigues of the royal court, in many ways I felt the book veered in too many inconsequential directions. At times, the book details facts which only the most interested and astute French scholar may appreciate.

The book does succeed in exploring the passionate leanings of the most powerful French woman of her time and delves into the unli
Dec 03, 2008 F.R. rated it it was ok
I read this book because I knew the name Madame de Pompadour, but knew absolutely nothing about the woman herself. Having now read the book I find myself au fait with the details of her life, but finding the character of the woman quite elusive.

This may be more a indicator of how scheming she was and how she wore a mask to protect her position rather than a quality of the prose, although a debate could be had as to how you could truly understand and build up a true psychological profile of someo
Mary Ellen
Oct 06, 2012 Mary Ellen rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies
A great deal of interesting historical detail, but this book reads more like a laundry list of facts than a true narrative. The author lists everything that happened in the life of Madame de Pompadour but analyzes none of it. Some people might find this refreshing, since there is no bending of facts to fit the pet theory of the writer, but it can also leave the reader without any clear entry point into or way to engage with the book. Additionally, it would have been nice to have more of the prim ...more
Martina Keller
Mar 11, 2013 Martina Keller rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Thought I would read this in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Paris. It was interesting that at one point she was neither his wife nor his lover, but still managed to run Louix XV's realm. The treatment was rather sympathetic and seemed to gloss over the fact that Louis XV was one of the most debauched of the French kings who contributed heavily to the ultimate demise of the French monarchy. I think the book added enough flavor to enhance my visit to Versailles!
Mar 25, 2008 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies-etc
5 stars for the beginning of the book- it was a delightful and charming treatment of Pompadour's early life, her rise, and how she maintained her grasp on the king. And then, we have ze politics in the second half. This section I would give 2 stars. It's a short book, so it is difficult to fully grasp all of the names that are thrown at you and their significance.

So, on average with some rounding, 3 stars. I would try and find another book- might try Mitford's treatment.
Jan 23, 2016 Jos rated it it was amazing
excellent book to understand what a grande dame this lady was. Away are the ideas of a simple courtisane, she is and still is the only female premier minister of France. She was instrumental in overturning a century old alliance balance in Europe, faut le faire ! She worked for 20 years in an environment that was hostile to her and she had to study every pass, every conversation. Evelyn Lever made this lady come to life.
Another great Lady behind the "men" of France. You wonder how they would do without them...

I always love reading about French Courts. First because I love history and their participants and second, the Court moved around a lot around where I live and I love reading about the places and imagining them there ;)
Apr 15, 2016 Redsteve added it
Recommends it for: 1
A very good biography. Well written and to the point - not like many historical bios that pad out the text with a lot of details that have nothing to do with the figure in question. I'd actually giv eit a 3.5 if I could give 1/2 stars.
Jul 10, 2011 Marie rated it really liked it
Great! I found this at the Pulp Fashion exhibit at the Legion of Honor Museum and decided to take a little historical detour from my French Revolution frenzy. Very fun, and useful background knowledge.
Christina Pankus
Jan 29, 2013 Christina Pankus rated it really liked it
Shelves: historic, non-fic
So...yes, I started reading this because of Dr. Who....very nerdy. But I had heard of her before and she is a fascinating woman! Very interesting non-fic read...easy to digest and keeps your interest.
Sara Giacalone
Aug 01, 2010 Sara Giacalone rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I would give this 2.5 stars - strong opening and moved along briskly (makes sense, given the material I guess). By the end though, the book seemed to drag a bit. Still, interesting material about the court of Louis XV and the "second queen".
Doris Raines
Apr 19, 2016 Doris Raines rated it really liked it
A. Book. Of. Romance. Where. Is. Lance. This. Is. A. Book. To. Remember. Great. Book. Great. Love. Story.
Anna rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2014
Michelle rated it liked it
Feb 25, 2015
Carolyn rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2015
DawnMarie Rubino
DawnMarie Rubino rated it it was amazing
Feb 25, 2016
Jenn B
Jenn B rated it liked it
Nov 06, 2014
Kristy rated it liked it
Nov 04, 2011
Olivia Eaton
Olivia Eaton rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2016
Katie rated it it was amazing
Aug 01, 2014
Debbie rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2014
Gene Reams
Gene Reams rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2017
Tina rated it liked it
Nov 02, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France
  • Athenais: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen  Of France
  • Versailles: A Biography of a Palace
  • A Scented Palace: The Secret History of Marie Antoinette's Perfumer
  • Madame de Pompadour
  • Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty
  • The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Françoise d'Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon
  • In Triumph's Wake: Royal Mothers, Tragic Daughters, and the Price They Paid for Glory
  • Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832
  • Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter
  • Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III
  • Murder of a Medici Princess
  • The Lost King of France: How DNA Solved the Mystery of the Murdered Son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
  • Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
  • Perdita: The Literary, Theatrical, Scandalous Life of Mary Robinson
  • A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby
  • A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France
  • The Affair of the Poisons: Murder, Infanticide, and Satanism at the Court of Louis XIV
Évelyne Lever est une historienne contemporaine.

Elle occupait la fonction d'ingénieur de recherche au C.N.R.S. et devient spécialiste de l'histoire du XVIIIe siècle. Elle est aussi l'auteur de nombreux livres sur la vie de Marie Antoinette et de Louis XVI.

Passionnée par la vie de certaines femmes du XVIIIe siècle (comme la favorite de Louis XV Madame de Pompadour), Évelyne Lever retrace dans certa
More about Évelyne Lever...

Share This Book