Monday, January 12, 2009

To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker

To Dance with Kings: A Novel
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Pages: 624

This is an intricately told tale set during the reigns of Louis XIV, XV & XVI with a backdrop of the splendours of the French court, culminating with the turbulence & horror of the French Revolution. This sweeping saga chronicles the rise and fall of Versialles, spanning four generations of women from the one family, Marguerite, Jasmin, Violette and Rose, all of whose destinies are entwined with those of their monarchs.

Rosalind Laker's superb imagery and historical accuracy bring 17th & 18th century France to life. From the architectural detail of the Palace of Versailles, the rich colour of changing court fashion, the art of fan-making, the persecution of the Heugenots (Protestants) & the lavishness of court in direct contrast to the plight of the peasants.

In 1664 hundreds of nobles descend on the village of Versailles to pay court to the sun king, King Louis XIV. Augustine Roussier witnesses the birth of a peasant fan maker's daughter and christens her Marguerite promising the mother that he will return for Marguerite on her seventeenth birthday ...and so the story begins.
"Marguerite becomes part of the royal court of the Sun King, but her fairytale existence is torn out from under her by a change of political winds. Jasmin, Marguerite’s daughter, is born to the life of privilege her grandmother dreamed of, but tempts fate by daring to catch the eye of the king. Violette, Marguerite’s granddaughter, is drawn to the nefarious side of life among the nobles at Versailles. And Rose, Violette’s daughter, becomes a lady-in-waiting and confidante to Marie Antoinette."

My small criticism of 'To Dance with Kings'- this is quite a lengthy book & Laker devotes very little time to Violette's character which I found a little disappointing considering her attention to detail with the other characters. However I loved her most sympathetic & to me, more honest portrayal of Marie Antoinette. I was completely enthralled & touched by the Queen's intelligence, courage & love & appalled at the use of her initial extravagant & carefree behaviour as a scapegoat for the King's failings. Don't expect this to be a quick read, it is however well worth the time.

This beautiful story is a definite keeper for my historical fiction shelf.

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  1. "...sweeping saga..." is what got my attention. Love that in a historical novel.

  2. This sounds right up my alley....I absolutely MUST read this one!

  3. I am very interested in this book. Thanks for your honest review. I will put this one on my list of "to-read".

  4. This one sounds really good too!! I will have to add it to my list to read this year!! I love a great historical fiction book and this one looks like it will fit the bill!!


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