Courting the Sun

A Novel of Versailles

Fiction - Historical - Personage
441 Pages
Reviewed on 04/22/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite

Courting the Sun is an apt name for this tale by Peggy Joque Williams, set in the court of Louis XIV of France, known as the Sun King. Sylvienne lives with her mother and two family retainers in the town of Amiens. One day, to the amazement of the local people, the king visits the house, and life changes for everyone. Shortly after, Sylvienne is summoned to court. It is a whole new world and way of life. Louis is married but has a mistress, Athenais the Marquise de Montespan, and Sylvienne is to be a maid of honor in her household. She has much to learn, adjusting to court life with its rules and regulations. The court moves from the Tuileries Palace to Fontainebleau, and then to Versailles. All is going well, with a huge surprise for Sylvienne, but then complications arrive when Etienne, her old love from Amiens, arrives to make shoes for the royal family.

For two days I lived in 17th-century France and was quite shocked after the last page to discover it was now the 21st century. Such was the power of Courting the Sun by Peggy Joque Williams. I have read numerous books set in France during the reign of Louis XII and visited all the places mentioned and I can’t fault any of the historical research. The author describes life in such detail, with such passion and accuracy, that I was there in court beside Sylvienne, seeing and experiencing all that she encountered. The characters were so well drawn, and true to everything I have also seen in films and books. King Louis, Queen Marie Theresa, his brother Prince Philip, his wife, the English Henrietta, plus his boyfriend the Chevalier de Lorraine are characters who are so real you feel you know them. The Marquise de Montespan has often been portrayed as unpleasant and intensely disliked, but Williams has given us a softer character, which I found refreshing. I also like the inclusion of the salons with the poets, playwrights, and writers of the time. I loved this book. I highly recommend it to every reader who, like me, enjoys historical novels, especially those with such attention to detail.