Wednesday, August 13

Book Review: Before Versailles by Karleen Koen

Author: Karleen Koen
Title: Before Versailles
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 460
First Published: June 28th, 2011 
Where I Got It: On my shelf (Bought at Dollar Tree)

"Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?
 
After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire."

This book not only centers around Louis XIV, but some of the people around him like Princess Henriette, Phillipe, Louise, D'Artagnan, Queen Anne, Maria Theresa, and etc. The story takes place over a few months during the summer or Louis' first year as complete ruler of France. He is still young, he's my age 22, but he has the whole world in his hands. With a young king and a fresh new court things are bound to happen...of course.

Well, there are a lot of POVs running around in this story. At first the POV would change sporadically and it drove me bananas. However, after a few chapters the author calmed herself and the POV changes were more announced. Either at the beginning of a new chapter or she would use "~" when once was about to happen. Thank goodness, because I was up to give up! I'm certainly glad I didn't, because the story gets really, really good once we find out who the boy in the iron mask is. I guessed his identity, but it was still a little bit of a shocker when I realized I was right.

Poor Louise...
Poor Henriette....
Poor Phillipe....
Poor Guy....
Poor Maria Theresa....

 Being a king can be a real pain in the butt, especially when you think you can do what you want. I get it: power corrupts. But still it always annoys me how kings can do what they please and screw the feelings of those around them. Like the brief relationship between Henriette and Louis. Henriette is your sister-in-law for crying out loud; did you think Phillipe would not find out? Granted, Phillipe is bisexual, but leans more towards the male side of things, but he still adores his wife. Then there is Guy who is Phillipe's best friend and supposed ex-lover who has fallen head over heals for Henriette. It's sad, especially when Louis falls out of love and uses Henriette to woo Miss Louise, who is an innocent and simple girl. 

Later on (not in the book) Louise just like Henriette is tossed to the wayside for another girl. Yes, the king as the power, but should he use it like that? Breaking hearts and taking names? While the whole time of all his affairs I feel so bad for his wife. His wife barely speaks the language and is love with Louis wholeheartedly. The whole time she is suffering through pregnancy. 

It was a good story with good characters. I wish that the author cut out a couple POVs to give more time to the more "main" characters. I'm glad as the story went on, she calmed down and actually gave some sort of warning to when a POV was about to change. I highly recommend this to Historical Fiction lovers; its a good one by a good author. Out of five stars, I shall stamp this one with 4. 

Favorite Character(s): Louise, Cinq Mars, Louis (I mainly like his POV the best; it was interesting), and Henriette. 
Not-so Favorite Character(s): Queen Anne 
 

4 comments:

Blodeuedd said...

Poor everyone

Carole Rae said...

:(

Jennifer Bielman said...

I would love being taken back in time in this book. Though the cover is meh.

Carole Rae said...

You'll like it. I'm neutral on the cover.