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Madame de Pompadour: A Life

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  450 ratings  ·  33 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)
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3.93  · 
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 ·  450 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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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
May 03, 2016 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.
Nicki Markus
Dec 25, 2011 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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it

Times change, people don’t. Someone lower-middle class uses their brain to make money, makes the right connections through marriage and business, buys the kids the best education possible, uses connections to get the kids the right introductions, and, violá, the family has vaulted up several rungs of the socio-economic ladder in less than two generations. I could be describing the Bolyens, the Middletons, or, in this case, the family of Madame de Pompadour.

Madame de Pompadour’s parents worked.
Patricia Beavers
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great historical, comprehensive book of Pompadour's life. From the beginning to the end of her life, this book goes though the ins and out of her life, both publicly in court and privately with King Louis XV. As a person who has an interest in French history, knows just about Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution, and only heard of Madame de Pompadour from Dr. Who... not really for you, but I decided to read it anyway after reading about her a bit from Wiki.... So this book is for people w ...more
Tara Kyrios
Oct 27, 2015 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.
Stephanie :}
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
So I found about Madame de Pompadour through that lovely Doctor Who episode from the Tenant years, The Girl in The Fireplace. And I don't regret deciding to learn more about her, because it turns out that the real Madame de Pompadour was kind of a badass!

I was aware going into this that she was the official mistress of King Louis XV, but I had no idea how influential she was politically. She was his mistress at first, but over the years, she became his advisor and best friend and essentially did
Aug 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Very comprehensive and well-researched. I never realized how deep into things Pompadour got, how involved in politics and court protocol. (My only problem is that I always have issues keeping track of nobles who change names left and right as well as the French names but that is totally my own glitch where I have to keep checking my own list.)
Daniel Kukwa
It's a lush chronological biography, heavy on personal relationships and court intrigue. However, I was hoping for a bit more critical analysis of Mme De Pompadour's political contributions, and her role in the development of the Enlightenment. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it's lacking the meat I was looking for, and will hopefully find in a future biography.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Marking this finished, even tho I haven't quite. I was hoping for a bit more story so it has taken me a very long time to get thru it. It's still interesting but I'll probably skim the remaining pages.
There is no life in this book. I am left feeling that I know facts, but not even a tiny bit of the actual person. Also, I think this relatively short book contains more quotation marks than anything in recent memory, due to the fact that it relies so heavily on other sources. A disappointment.
Jen Rose
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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 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
Oct 05, 2014 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 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 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 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!
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: louis-xv
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.
Mar 25, 2008 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.
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 ;)
Jul 10, 2011 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.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it liked 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.
Christina Pankus
Jan 29, 2013 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 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".
Christy S
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir-biography
As always, Lever writes a fabulous, fun, and thorough biography.
Sara Jones
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
i like this book, an easy read.
Sarah Compton
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was very informational while still being entertaining.
Doris Raines
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A. Book. Of. Romance. Where. Is. Lance. This. Is. A. Book. To. Remember. Great. Book. Great. Love. Story.
Jun 25, 2016 marked it as to-read
Madame de Pompadour: A Life by Evelyne Lever, Catherine Temerson
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
A little dry at times and sometimes confusing. But informative and mostly enjoyable.
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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