All the King's Ladies

Janice Law, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (310p) ISBN 978-0-312-01966-2
Law reconstructs the scintillating, decadent court of Louis XIV, where women craftily utilize every blandishment to become the monarch's favorite. One deft conniver is the Marquise Athenais de Montespan, who has grown exasperated with her capricious husband and their negligible finances. Athenais can gain stature and wealth by becoming the king's mistress, so she accepts a position in the queen's household and hastily ingratiates herself with Louis XIV. When her friend Louise, the ruler's current companion, falls into royal disfavor, Athenais replaces her after skillfully inciting the king's desire. Nevertheless, she fumes when he ends their liaison for religious reasons but then succumbs to the vapid but sensuous Marie-Angelique de Fontanges. Athenais regains her lover by surreptitiously dosing him with potions supplied by a sorceress, whose subsequent arrest puts Athenais's freedom and reputation in jeopardy. Law (Death Under Par ably evokes the corruption pervading Versailles, yet the novel lacks dramatic tension until its absorbing final scenes, when the fates of Athenais and the sorceress are revealed. (October 20)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-1-58348-730-3
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