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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The vivid story of the creation, renovation, and enduring legacy of the most famous building in France: the palace of Versailles

Nothing represents the glorious and fraught history of France quite like the Palace of Versailles. Made famous by the absolutist king Louis XIV, Versailles became legendary for the splendor of its revels -- but then, after the Revolution of 1789,
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Basic Books
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BAM The Bibliomaniac
Netgalley #80

Many thanks go to Colin Jones, Basic Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

As a lover of history, especially French history, it's not uncommon to say one's read a book about Versailles. Not all cover from that great palace's inception to the 21st century. Jones does an excellent job of fleshing out the stages of its existence while adding photos to enrich the experience.
Versailles has had a rough life. It's been used most intolerably
Arybo ✨
The place name derives from the old French versail, meaning a ploughed field.

One of the places that attract the largest number of visitors visiting Paris is Versailles. Naturally, the beauty of the place and the richness of the ornamentations are the main factors that attract this mass of people, who find themselves in a place of historical importance that is fundamental for the history of France and of the whole world. The palace of Versailles was built by the Bourbons about 20 kilometers from
Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)
This review can also be found on my blog!

I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is publishing November 13th!


Four years ago, I went on an epic Europe trip that included going to Versailles. I’ve had an interest in Marie Antoinette since I was a kid so I was super excited to go and see the halls that she walked and get immersed in history. While the tour sucked, the palace was gorgeous.

I saw this on Netgalley and I thought it was a perfect opportunity t
Literary Soirée
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
VERSAILLES provides an absorbing front-row look at one of the most magnificent buildings in the world, based upon new research that traces its creation and evolution into a political locus of power — and to today, a coveted world tourist destination. Well-written addictive reading for the Francophile and the Francophile-in-training. Author Colin Jones teaches at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Chicago and has penned many French history books, including the definitive Paris: ...more
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
An informative and quick read about a place I did not know much about. The author takes the reader from Versailles's beginning as a hunting lodge to its status as the center of government and society, through its disuse and then later use as museum. I'm sure I'll never be able to keep straight which King Louis did what but that isn't the books fault.
Wool Pickle
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent introduction to Versailles. Captivating and non-sensational, a quick and inviting read.
Jul 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
From the publisher "The vivid story of the creation, renovation, and enduring legacy of the most famous building in France: the palace of Versailles."

I can agree that it's the story of the creation, renovation and legacy of the palace of Versailles. However, it certainly isn't vivid. The writing is clunky and at times feels like it's aimed at 8 year olds wanting a dumbed down history of the building.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this in return for an honest unbi
Hasso von Moltke
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, france
When I first saw this book it peaked my interest, but I was admittedly concerned that Mr. Jones had simply crafted an architectural history of the famous Versailles Palace. Thankfully, while the architecture is included, as is necessary in a history of a building, it was not all East Wings and flying buttresses. Mr. Collins has crafted a wonderful general history of Versailles, from Louis XIII's hunting lodge to modern day restoration efforts.  He delves into the construction of the grand palace ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
History isn't just cold data and facts, and I think the subject of this book would have been better served if the author had considered those other factors.

Versailles, considered one of the many historical hearts of France, was constructed by the Sun King after 1660 and was the center of some of France' great moments in history. The French people and the ex-pats that donated millions of dollars to resurrect the structure and the grounds are a testament to that. And 164 pages does not do it just
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Versailles is a historical account of the infamous palace in France from the early days of construction of the palace through modern day. I was hoping this would be more an account of the palace itself, to include the innovative approaches to the construction itself. These were essentially glossed over. What this book did cover was a good high level overview of the different monarchies that inhabited the palace and how that shaped its definition as a palace. There was a lot covered with little a ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A vivid and comprehensive history of Versailles, its denizens, and its creators.

There isn't much that's new here if you know your French royal history, but Jones has done an admirable job of providing a thorough, superbly-researched, and all-encompassing volume on the subject.

Bonus points for stellar selection of photo plates accompanying the text.

*I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This was interesting because it gave a complete overview of the history of Versailles. I think it was “good” but not amazing and not something I could really see myself recommending to anyone else as a must-read. I took French through high school and college plus visited Versailles twice in my life, therefore it’s interesting to me. But other than that it was just a decent read, in my opinion.
Jan Daulton
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Great history of the monarchy and the building of Versailles. I was hoping for more. I was hoping to find out where the found the furnishings, how the restoration was done. The book only touched on these things. I did find this interesting, and if you are headed to Versailles and have never been there, I would read this book. Doesn't take long.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It was very interesting to see the history of such a historic place. It makes you think about how some places we take for granted could be seen in the future. I always find it fascinating how piecemeal these places were put together. And it's usually amazing how they've managed to survive history and the test of time.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
General introduction to the place. It feels like a wiki article in a physical book format.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This went beyond the usual tourist hype and provided the evolution of Versailles from hunting lodge to tourist site. It is amazing it is still in tact for us to enjoy today. I've always hoped to visit in person when I get around to saving for a major excursion abroad. This book has motivated me to more actively save for this purpose.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an advanced copy of this book for me to review!

Although I am an historian, I know surprisingly little on the specifics of Versailles. Yes, I know that it was turned to a hunting lodge to the palace that it is by Louis XIV and that it featured spectacularly in Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette's downfall, but that is about it. This is a fantastic history of Versailles- Jones provides enough history and details to actually give you a solid foundation on the histo
Tina Rose
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Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book. A fascinating history of Versailles. Can't wait to visit in person someday but, for now, Colin Jones' Versailles is the next best thing.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
Sara Pigott
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Feb 10, 2019
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