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3.50  ·  Rating details ·  807 ratings  ·  164 reviews
Versailles, 1686: Julie d'Aubigny, a striking young girl taught to fence and fight in the court of the Sun King, is taken as mistress by the King's Master of Horse. Tempestuous, swashbuckling and volatile, within two years she has run away with her fencing master, fallen in love with a nun and is hiding from the authorities, sentenced to be burnt at the stake. Within anoth ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published June 1st 2014 by Fourth Estate (HarperCollins)
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Kelly Gardiner Hi, There's no record at all of her mother, so the answer to that really interesting question is lost in time.
In fact, there's no record of her birth…more
Hi, There's no record at all of her mother, so the answer to that really interesting question is lost in time.
In fact, there's no record of her birth, or even her place of death - although that's not unusual in Paris where many records were lost in the Revolution or the Commune.
My research leads me to believe she lived at the riding school at the old Tuileries Palace until the court moved to Versailles, but there's no evidence of her childhood at all. At least, not so far.
Kelly Gardiner Hi, I'd love to hear what people think about this question.
I can say that I spent five years researching Julie's life and have read every single acco…more
Hi, I'd love to hear what people think about this question.
I can say that I spent five years researching Julie's life and have read every single account I can find in English French and even Italian. There is nothing major (apart from her friendship with the Comtesse) that is totally imagined in the book. Any other variations are noted at the end.
But, and it's a big BUT, many of the legends about her such as the duels at the ball and the first meeting with d'Albert weren't documented at the time. They might or might not be true, but they have become part of everyone's view of her, so I have included them. They are, after all, usually the most entertaining stories.
Anyway, here's a very brief summary of the life story my research clarified for me:
Hope that helps.

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Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical women, lovers of kickass ladies, people interested in 17th-century France
Who wants to read a story about a swordfighting, bisexual opera singer? To meet an awesome historical lady? A woman whose life was so unbelievable that it stills excites people today?!

If you do, than this book is just the one for you!

I dressed not as a man, not as a woman – just as myself. As a chevalier who happened to be born female. I wore the clothes and the sword of a gentleman, but I wore them like a woman. I never let anyone forget who I truly was – am. Julie-Émilie. Mademoiselle d’Aubi
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is from the book's description:

Versailles, 1686: Julie d'Aubigny, a striking young girl taught to fence and fight in the court of the Sun King, is taken as mistress by the King's Master of Horse. Tempestuous, swashbuckling and volatile, within two years she has run away with her fencing master, fallen in love with a nun and is hiding from the authorities, sentenced to be burnt at the stake.

What really made me want to read this, however, is that it is based on a true story.
Doesn't that sound
Oct 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Perhaps National Public Radio should desist from recommending books and music, because the preferences indicated, for the most part, lack any sense of taste. The story of Julie-Émilie d’Aubigny, known as Mademoiselle de Maupin, sounded interesting, but the writer is totally incompetent. Although I am a firm supporter of the First Amendment and would never countenance the censorship of any idea or subject, the prose through which such may be conveyed is another matter entirely. There are those wh ...more
Kate Forsyth
Aug 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I’m been a big admirer of Kelly Gardiner’s gorgeous historical novels for young adults, Act of Faith and The Sultan’s Eyes, both of which are set in the mid-17th century, one of my favourite historical periods for fiction. Goddess is Kelly’s first novel for adults, based on the fascinating true life story of Julie d'Aubigny, a woman out of step with her own time (The court of the Sun King, Louise XIV, in Paris during the 1680s) Raised like a boy by her swordsman father, Julie likes to dress like ...more
Venetia Green
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Motherless Julie d’Aubigny is brought up in the palatial stables of Versailles by her a fencing-instructor father. He treats her much as any other squire under his tutelage and Julie lives in breeches and develops into a superlative swordswoman – until the King’s Master of Horse transplants this striking boy-girl to Paris to become his mistress at age thirteen.

Sounds improbable, the stuff of melodrama and costume romance? Well truth is stranger than fiction in this case. Kelly Gardiner’s novel
Favorite Quote:"Yet most women I know--no matter how clever, no matter how strong--are dragged down by husbands or fathers or titles or too many petticoats, or priests clutching at their hems, telling them, 'No, you cannot do that, you cannot be that.' I never listened. That's rare." (141).

The rest of this novel is driven not by the writing but by the life of Julie d'Aubigny--cross-dressing, gender-bending, swash-buckling, opera-singing, bisexual demimondaine! The toast of all Paris in the late
Kristen McDermott
A memorable, unexpected character with an appealing voice. Julie, "La Maupin," is a romantic, flamboyant figure who actually lived in 17th century France. There's plenty of swashbuckling, romance, and humor in her tale, but the best part is the fascinating evocation of the world of the Opera and the art of singing. Because the narrator's ego is so huge, she can sometimes become tiresome (and a little too lengthy) in her own praise, but this is balanced by occasional chapters told from an externa ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars, and a lot of that is for things that usually are of secondary importance to me, like the visual and structural aspects of the book – but man, the cover design and layout of this book are gorgeous. Like, stupidly gorgeous. It took me months to get into this book, so it was always sitting in my Theoretically Reading Right Now pile or on my bedside table, and the upside of that was that I got to ogle the cover a lot.

The inside, too, is beautifully arranged. The whole thing is structured
Sue Smith
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lordy I love it when a book surpasses my expectations!

This was such a wonderful story about a truly fabulous woman that actually existed - and I mean really lived, to the true meaning of the word - in France during the reign of the Sun king.

And I don't exaggerate that she was fabulous!

She was a rare, one of a kind person that comes into the world and burns it up.

A precocious child that was raised as a boy, learned to fence and quickly learned that in order to be more than a whipping post for
Rachael McDiarmid
Oct 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that wasn't quite what I expected but this book was seductively engaging, paced well, and a wonderfully told story. I liked the flow of the book and the way the narrative was presented to the reader - one long drawn out confession to a priest of a totally scandalous life vs the activities of that period from another angle but one that mirrors what she's already hinted to the priest. I really chuckled at the conversation with the priest as we only hear her side of it. Would make fabulous view ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it did not like it
Looks like I'm going to be the one going against the grain. I found d'Aubigny a selfish, self absorbed character who managed to ruin lives. Try as I may, I couldn't find anything about her as a character that made a heroine or redeemable. Now in saying that, Gardiner can write well, I think that is what kept me going. However, nothing about the story or character gripped me at all, I just didn't connect. The me, me, me, I, I, I throughout the novel made it quite a chore for me. ...more
I just could not get into the writer's style. Julie d'Aubiny was a sword fighting, opera singer, bi-sexual in the era of the Sun King. But I just didn't get to know her. Her exploits were brushed over with plenty of pages devoted to her giving her confessor a hard time, or in telling the reader how good she was. Julie's vocab was also a bit too modern . ...more
Interesting read

It wasn't until I read the author's notes at the end did I discover this book is largely factual! I've never heard of La Maupin and I'm glad I've discovered this gem of a book. She led an amazing, yet short life!
Katie {awonderfulbook}
I was drawn to this because of the blurb, and it certainly was entertaining, but it was a fairly lacklustre read for me.

I wasn't too keen on how Julie saw herself. I figure it was mainly bravado, but vanity and arrogance aren't things that will really draw my sympathy. I didn't really like her voice as it told the story, and I almost wish we'd had a third-person narrator the whole way through. I understand why Julie narrated a lot herself, though, and I suppose it was effective to have the story
Review to comeI first heard about Julie d'Aubigny on Tumblr and when I came across this book I really wanted to read it. Since there are gaps in what we know about her the author framed the story as a series of flashbacks on her deathbed as she is supposedly giving confession. This does cover the year gaps in her life story very easily. Julie lived a very unconventional life, at a young age she became the mistress to the French King’s Horse Master and he had her married off to cover the fact she ...more
Cristine Mermaid
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Readers either absolutely loved or hated this book, I am obviously on the "love" side. I was captivated by this amazing woman who refused to live within the dictates of her time. This is the true story of a bi-sexual opera singing swordswoman who lived a life of great passion and adventure. The writing style was beautiful to me, almost poetic and lyrical in places. The format was her telling her life story to the monk who had come to hear her final confession and I found that brilliant. I defini ...more
Jun 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the how the historical setting, events and characters were used. While La Maupin's ramblings seemed unnecessary at first, I did enjoy the more towards the end of the novel. Having done something with Louis XIV and Lully earlier in the year, this was a nice way to view that period of history again and from a different perspective. ...more
Heather Jones
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
I approached Kelly Gardiner’s novel Goddess with a combination of excitement and dread. It’s hard not to have mixed feelings when someone tackles the story of a real historic figure with whom one is already in love. In my completely biased opinion, anyone who encounters the biography of 17th century swordswoman and opera star Julie d’Aubigny, Mademoiselle de Maupin and does not fall in love has something wrong with them. And any writer who encounters that biography is likely to be struck by two ...more
Abigail Hanna
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-lit
It took me awhile to decide on the rating for this as it took me awhile to read this, I had a few months long break in the middle of the book so was going to go with 3 stars. However just finished the final third of the book and am having emotions so decided to go with 4 stars. I chose to read this cos wanted to read more queer books and the historical figure has interested me for awhile and this was a fascinating interpretation of Julie's life. I tend to avoid books where the queer characters d ...more
Michi (The Capital Bluestocking)
The fascinating characterization of La Maupin (Julie d'Aubigny) in Goddess was slightly overshadowed by discordant storytelling. The alternating points of view could have served as an efficient way to move the plot along, however this strategy fell short as the first person POV chapters were wordy, repetitive and had no discernible tie-in to the forthcoming chapter.

The strongest part, and arguably the most important, is La Maupin herself. Her life experiences provide the bones to this book and
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging to read, a heroine of days long past!
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Goddess” is a historical novel based on the real-life figure Julie d’Aubigny a breeches-wearin’, swash bucklin’, bi-swingin’ opera singer who lived in 16th century France. The book is told in alternating chapters from La Maupin’s deathbed. Dying of consumption, she recounts how she basically did whatever the hell she wanted in her short but exciting life.

The book is a little on the long side and the writing a bit mediocre. But Gardiner portrays La Maupin in such an utterly charming, woman-roari
You could not make this stuff up - a bisexual Frenchwoman, master fencer, opera star, and even sometime nun. And that's enough review. What, not enough to convince you?

Gardiner puts the words in Julie d'Aubigny's own mouth more than once - you really couldn't make up her story. Reading this novel is worth it just to learn about a real historical figure who didn't bend to convention or sacrifice her individuality at all. I think it's safe to say that she was one of a kind and that the world will
Kelly Gardiner’s Goddess is an engaging version of the life of La Maupin, Julie d’Aubigny, in 17th Century France. Julie is beautiful, smart, witty and feisty. This fictional account of her last confession (and basically retelling of her life) grabs the reader’s attention right from the get-go.

“Don’t hover in the doorway like that. Come in or piss off – I don’t care either way. Who the hell are you?”

This is how Julie greets the priest confessor in the first lines of the novel – and it sets the
Dec 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
Real Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars

I really, really, really love La Maupin so I've been trying to get my hands on anything with her in it but I've only been able to find a grand total of ONE fiction novel based on her life - this one. Fortunately, my reading experience with this was more positive then not, though it wasn't the best novel I've ever read.

In the beginning, I personally found the alternating chapter perspectives more of a detriment then a positive, keeping me from getting invested in t
Sep 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book about a fabulous woman. Julie d'Aubigny is raised in the stables at Versailles, her father a fencing instructor. So naturally she grows up a fighter and a fencer—but also (later) a famous opera singer, "La Maupin". Being a beautiful, wild and strong-willed girl/woman in 17thC France didn't make for an easy life—she was taken as a lover by the Louis XIV's Master of Horses when she was only 14, and married (to someone else, for convenience) soon after. A fair bit to deal with at an a ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was pretty good, it was written in an interesting format, where the protagonist was confessing/dictating her life to a monk (who seems thoroughly uninteresting and judge-y throughout the book, given her reactions to him), and that's how the story is told.

I did really like the protagonist, Julie, because she was an anomaly to those around her, and was constantly being underestimated simply because she was a woman. Rather than banging on the walls of a system that would never accept her for w
Dec 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There aren't many books on Julie D'Aubigny out there, fictional or factual, so it was a happy coincidence when I stumbled across this in my local library. I probably would have preferred to find a biography, but I soon found out there aren't actually any published in English. Kelly Gardiner's book is probably the next best thing for someone who wants to learn about D'Aubigny's astonishing life. She has written a thesis on the subject (which I might now try and track down) and the book contains a ...more
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about an amazing woman! Set in 17th century France, this is the story of a real woman who lived a most unconventional life. The author has researched the many (and often conflicting) accounts of Julie d'Aubigny to craft this engaging book. Alternating chapters are written in the first person as Julie tells her own story to the priest sent to hear her confession at the end of her life. This technique gives the reader a clearer picture of Julie's personality and increasing self-awar ...more
Pam Saunders
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, adult
I felt Julia, breathe as I read this book. Sometimes delicate and light, sometimes gusty and controlled and struggling as she dragged every breathe out to tell her tale to the reluctant ears of the priest. What a character, sometimes I did wonder at the many lives she had and people she meet and influenced. The names and numbers occasionally scrambling in my reading. Kelly has created a believable, well researched world around the remarkable story of Julia La Maupin. Best read whilst listening t ...more
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UK and US publication dates 1 3 Apr 10, 2015 05:11PM  
Vaginal Fantasy B...: Book Recomendation: Goddess by Kelly Gardiner 1 35 Nov 19, 2014 02:18PM  
Images and inspiration: Goddess on Pinterest 1 2 Jul 07, 2014 06:18PM  
The real Julie d'Aubigny 1 6 May 30, 2014 03:39AM  

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Kelly Gardiner's latest series for young readers is a time slip adventure trilogy called 'The Firewatcher Chronicles': Brimstone(2019), Phoenix (2020) and Vigil (2021). Her previous novel was '1917: Australia's Great War', set in Flanders and in Melbourne during the First World War.
Her novel 'Goddess' was based on the life of the remarkable Julie d'Aubigny, also known as Mademoiselle de Maupin -

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26 likes · 3 comments
“Doesn’t matter whether you’re a baker’s wife or a whore or a princess—if you have the strength, you can take a lover, write a motet, lead an army, rule a country. Women have. Not all, granted, but some. And we adore them, don’t we? In theory. We make statues of warrior women, paint them on our ceilings—goddesses with shields and togas and one fair breast exposed so there can be no doubt. The palaces of Europe are covered in them. The Opéra stages, too, for that matter. Yet most women I know—no matter how clever, no matter how strong—are dragged down by husbands or fathers or titles or too many petticoats, or priests clutching at their hems, telling them, ‘No, you cannot do that, you cannot be that.’ I never listened. That’s rare.” 6 likes
“slowly, mile after mile, I unwound the bandages, let my wounds, my scars, crust over. They didn’t heal. But I learned to live with them, as you do. Learned how to move, talk, ride, sing, so that the pain wasn’t visible” 0 likes
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