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Mistress of the Sun: A Novel Mistress of the Sun: A Novel by Sandra Gulland

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I learn all of my history from historical fiction (and the occasional children’s book or run to an encyclopedia). Thank goodness for people like Sandra Gulland, who write historical fiction that’s engrossing and informative without slipping into soap opera or dry information. As with her Josephine Bonaparte trilogy, we follow the life of an ordinary French woman whose life ends up closely tied to a big figure in history. This way we get the details of ordinary life at the time – and the medical tidbits were particularly amusing in this one – but at the same time we’re coming in contact with the “kings, battles and dates” kind of history as Petite becomes a lady in waiting and moves closer and closer to the court of Louis XIV. And while she eventually becomes the king’s mistress, this never turns into that more sensationalistic, bodice-ripper, high-drama kind of historical fiction (cough-The Other Boleyn Girl-cough). Instead, Petite seems – and acts – like a normal person caught in extraordinary circumstances. I didn’t get quite as attached to her as I did to Rose, in the Josephine books, but it did make me want to learn more about the time period, the places they went, and so on (thanks to my middle school obsession with French chateaux, I could picture several of them).

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February 2023

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