Sarah Finch's Reviews > Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King

Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser
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May 08, 12

Read from April 30 to May 08, 2012

Antonia Fraser is one of my favorite authors, and this book perfectly encapsulates why. Her prose is lucid, witty, and informative; it can strike that tricky balance between conveying the overarching story alongside the entertaining minutiae that lend historical portraits their depth. In this case, the portrait is manifold. Ostensibly a biography of Louis XIV as told through the prism of the women in his life -- his mother, his wife, his mistresses, his grandson's wife -- it is also a portrait of Versailles, of seventeenth-century manners, and of the different kinds of stations women could aspire to at court. Figures that have been more or less lost to history, such as Louise La Valliere, Marie Mancini, and Adelaide of Savoy leap from the page with dazzling clarity. And Fraser's portrayal of the Marquise de Montespan, whose biographies both formal and informal have been littered with libels, is admirably straightforward. My only wish is that somehow the book could have been longer, for it was not a happy moment when I realized I had reached the end!
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05/01/2012 page 115
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