Versailles

Colin Jones. Basic, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5416-7338-0
Historian Jones (The Smile Revolution in Eighteenth-Century Paris) spins a captivating narrative about a town and building with humble beginnings that became inextricably linked with the sociopolitical trajectory of France. “Since its inception, the Versailles project had been centered on the person of the king; it depended on his playing the role set out by Louis XIV,” Jones writes. But from their origins as a hunting lodge near a village windmill in 1623, building and settlement proved as adaptable as the political fates of France. Social mores and favor flowed from Versailles during the Bourbon monarchy (though different monarchs were more and less pleased about this) until the deaths of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. Afterwards, Versailles became a chameleon, everything from decrepit money pit to national monument and the museum and tourist destination it is today. Particularly fascinating is the fact that each change in function was accompanied by a change in form and fortune for the town. Jones’s tale requires the reader to have some knowledge of French history, but for history buffs and Francophiles this is an engaging, accessible look at the layers behind one of the most well-known places in France. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 11/13/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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