The Sisters of Versailles

FINALLY! I broke my streak with war and nightmares. I really was not sure it was every going to end!

I have read dozens of books about Henry VIII and his scandalous court. Seemingly everyone has heard of his lustful boredom and endless pursuits. However, two centuries later, another king followed in his very sexed up shoes.

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King Louis XV of France–Louis the Beloved–ruled from 1710 to 1774. He was married to a Polish princess, but after seven years of marriage, he was becoming bored, and his advisers decided they needed to find a replacement close and quiet. According to Sally Christie in her new book The Sisters of Versailles, they found the perfect solution in Louise Nesle, serving as one of the Queen’s consorts.

However, because this is a scandal story, of course it doesn’t just stop there. There were five Nesle sisters. I’ll leave you to read what happens.

Christie’s historical fiction drips with so much sticky sweet scandal that you would think you were biting into a caramel apple (just keep it away from Diane, or she might snatch it from you). Every chapter holds a new drama–either a fight that is “not very sororal” according to the Nesle governess Zeilie, or littered with sexual innuendo so dirty even I couldn’t have come up with some of it. And that’s saying something. (I did make sure to take note of them…don’t you worry! clickFILEclick)

The Goodreads blurb states that these women have never before been written about in English, which devastates me, because I very much want to read more! Not that Sally Christie hasn’t done a fantastic job, because she has…but this is one of those sections of history I could get addicted to. It’s like a historical soap opera or reality show. Keeping Up with the Nesles. Now THAT is something I would watch! Oh man. Who do I talk to at HBO to do this?

Seriously though guys, if you like Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, or Hilary Mantel…really any of the great scandal writers from Henry VIII’s court…you’re going to love this one. Same idea, different king. History really does repeat itself, doesn’t it?

 

Netgalley provided this ARC for an unbiased reviewReleases on September 1.

 

Buy it Here:

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French History

Whether it is just the chunk of the Boxall list I am working through at the moment, or the random books I am choosing from my Goodreads list–for some reason I seem to be reading a lot of French literature lately.

Or trying to.

I am getting really frustrated, because I am not enjoying the books as much as I want to. Either they are taking way too long to read, or I just find them excruciatingly boring. Mauprat wasn’t bad, but I am into my second Dumas novel, and I think I have figured out why I hate him so much.

Dumas writes about real events–his books are basically James Bond books of the 1800s. They are about espionage and war and real kings. Maybe the heroes are fictional, but all the history is real.

And I do not know that history, so I am COMPLETELY lost. Hence my frustration! I know all about British history, because I’ve been reading about it for years…but French? Nada. I know there were rough relations with the Spanish for awhile, but I don’t know if they ever went to war. And I know there was a revolution with Napoleon…which I think is what this book is talking about. But without Googling it, I couldn’t even tell you what happened there. It has been years since my World History class in high school.

So. Dear readers. I need your help. Enlighten me. I need more French History. What are your favorites? Biographies. Period histories. Fact-based historical fiction about real people (you know the kind I like…I’m not talking romance novels here). Give me some good stuff that I can read up on the kings and queens and drama.

And don’t worry…I probably will use Google. But reading in depth is so much better! Thanks for your help!

The Three Musketeers

I started to write my WWW Wednesday post this morning, and realized that absolutely nothing had changed since last week. UGH. That just ticked me right off.

There’s nothing worse than a book that is taking way too long to come to a conclusion. Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers was just that book this week. I was so ready to start blogging again, and couldn’t get to the end!

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This book was utterly ridiculous to me, which was very disappointing. I grew up with the legend of the Musketeers, and I am absolutely loving the BBC series, but I had never read the original story and figured it was about time I did. Now, I wish I hadn’t. I think this book must be were we Americans get our exaggerated stereotypes (see stereotypes…I don’t actually think this is true) of the French–constant adultery, snobbish about food and wine, and “SACREBLEU!” every two seconds.

I was expecting heroic duels and romance, more knighty type showings of chivalry like I find in my British novels from the same time period. But this was just a foolish, horribly written mess. And maybe it’s just Dumas. I don’t think I’ve read much French literature, so I don’t mean to discredit France and French literature as a whole here. I just really hated this book. The Musketeers were not dashing at all, they were kind of lazy, actually. They wanted to lay around eating chocolate breakfasts and beg wine from married women. And heaven forbid if someone gave them Anjou wine instead of Champagne, oh my goodness.

The only really interesting character was Milady de Winter, and she was just an absolute nutcase. She had about 12 different personalities, but because of Dumas’ terrible writing, it’s hard to tell if she’s a psychopath and she’s in control of herself, or if she has absolutely no idea what’s going on and is just trying to stay alive.

I really wanted to follow this up by reading Man in the Iron Mask…but I don’t think I could stand it. I loved that movie, but ugh. I think reading any more Dumas would just ruin it for me. I’ll just rent the movie again.

Treesofreverie June Read-A-Thon: Questionnaire | Part 1

Home sick today, so I’m curled up with R on the couch while he watches the World Cup. Thought I’d take some time and answer these questions, since I can’t concentrate on much else.

  • 01. Where will you be sharing your bookish updates for the Treesofreverie June Read-A-Thon? Here! Some of my other challenges on Instagram have also been tagged with the Trees hashtag, if it’s a book I’m reading for this, but for the most part, all of my posts will be on this blog, which also feeds into Tumblr.
  • 02. How did you start book blogging? What got you interested in starting, were there particular blogs that influenced or encouraged your decision? (If you don’t have a book blog, are you interested in starting one?) I was just exploring Tumblr, when I read The Happiness Project. I was seeing book blogs, and I wanted an outlet for book discussion, so I started this. I can’t believe how much feedback I’ve gotten, it’s been so much fun.
  • 03. What’s your ultimate book-inspired holiday? What would you do and would you take anyone with you? Has a particular book or author inspired this? Most of my vacations are more food related than book related, but I do always imagine Italy in an Under the Tuscan Sun sort of way, and France as Julia Child describes it. My vision of countries are very much influenced by the memoirs I’ve read.
  • 04. Which five authors (dead or alive) would you invite to a dinner party and why? Who do you think would get along and what would you talk about? First and foremost, Ernest Hemingway. I would LOVE to have a drink with him. Julia Child is another, because, obviously, she would do the cooking, and I think she would be hilarious. I’d love to hear about her travels as well…and Hemingway and Child might be interesting together actually. They both had pretty “live life to the fullest” perspectives. Jane Austen, because…obviously. George RR Martin so I can get inside his head. I want to know what the heck makes that man tick. John Green, because he’s just SUCH a nerd, and I’d like to have someone to geek out with.
  • 05. What were the last three books you recommended to someone and why did you choose these particular books to recommend? If your last recommendations were a large list shared all at once, then pick three books. The only book I really remember recommending (other than here on the blog) is the Kingkiller Chronicles. I’ve been telling everyone I meet to read that. Most people in real life ask me for book recommendations, then don’t ever take me seriously, because I have such an extensive list. I’m sure I’ve told people to read TFIOS too.
  • 06. Describe your perfect reading experience. Paperback, Hardback or eBook? Genre? Where are you reading? Alone or in company? Indoors or outside? Season? Weather? What time of day? Snacks? Give me a sunny, just warm day, in the shade. Preferably alone, but maybe somewhere I can watch people. A bottle of wine opened on the table, with some good cheese to munch on. A fantastic old book, well worn with that musty old smell.
  • 07. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. What are your thoughts on negative comments and reviews on books? Does it make a difference for you if they involve any constructive criticism or feedback? The interesting thing about the book blogging community is that we all get a different experience from the books we read. It’s like tasting wine. No one person is going to taste the same glass of wine the same. We all have a different perspective. It is ok to disagree. That said, I think sometimes, the disagreement turns into hate, and that’s not ok with me. There is a difference between conversation and persecution. We need to be careful in how we treat our fellow bloggers. I would much rather see this community as a place of friendship than a place of war.
  • 08. What would your ultimate dream book collection include? What would it look like and how would you arrange your books? I’ve always dreamed of having one of those really old school Victorian smoking jacket studies. You know what I’m talking about. Where the lord of the manor would retire in the evening to his brandy, amongst his wood paneled shelves with books rising to the ceiling. They were a thing of awe. At least in our imagination today. Ever since I saw the Beast’s library (which was white instead of brown), I have wanted a library like that. 
  • 09. What are your biggest book-related pet peeves? Why do these things bother you more than others? I am very contradictory when it comes to my books. I break my spines, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with a well loved book. It needs to feel good in my hands. But, I will absolutely NEVER NEVER NEVER ruin the pages with ink. That is an abominable sin in my eyes. And I will never buy a used book that has been inked. (Which was really sad because I found a copy of The Great Gatsby the other day for $1…only to find someone had underlined over half the book…for SHAME!) I also use bookmarks instead of dogears.
  • 10. What are some of your favourite things about people who read books? These may be generalisations or relate to a specific person. I love how we all just geek out over the smallest details. I always thought it was just me, until I discovered this wonderful community online. Hermoine’s dress was BLUE not PINK. Arya has LINES in this scene, you idiots. We memorize not just quotes, but “insignificant” characters’ names, eye color, birthdays. We know who dies when and how and why. We know what author is going to be in what city and how to get in to see them. And we are obsessive about collecting not just books, but the specific copies of books in a series so everything matches on our shelves. And even though many of us are introverts, get us talking about the books we love, and we will not shut up.

The Sweet Life in Paris

For years, I have been wanting to go to Paris. I have always held it in a very romantic light, because of all the reading I’ve done. And then I read Julia Child’s My Life in France and was just enthralled.

But now…despite David Lebovitz’s title The Sweet Life in Paris…I’m thinking that living in Paree is not so sweet. Holy Cow that sounds stressful! I would still love to visit some day…I am not sure I can resist one of the great food cultures of the world. But, I am at my roots an American…and I am also a very awkward introvert.

So thanks, David, for killing my flowery vision of Paris.

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Ok. I’m being dramatic here. Really, I enjoyed this book quite a lot. Each chapter was a short piece of life in France. This wasn’t a timeline memoir or narrative. It was a snapshot of different pieces of the city. And, at the end of each snapshot, there was a recipe or two–a few of which I added to Pinterest to try out later. Mmmmmm I do love David’s recipes.

This is a short read–brain candy of the best kind (because…it involves REAL chocolate!).