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Wednesday Weekly

The Shadow Queen

By Sandra Gulland

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Hello fellow readers I hope everyone is staying warm. We have been having record-breaking below zero temperatures here in Ohio. It feels like the North pole. I am waiting for the arrival of the polar bears, penguins and seals. I think it is too cold to go to work, but hospitals never close!!!

This is a brand new book that will be released on April 8, 2014 by Doubleday books. I have to confess that I am already a fan of Sandra Gulland. I have read all three of her books about Josephine Bonaparte. I remember that I enjoyed that series of novels, even if I did read them out-of-order!! I obtained this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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1660, Paris: As the daughter of itinerant  actors who once lit up the Parisian stages, Claudette always thought her  future lay in the theater. But a series of chance encounters pull  Claudette into the alluring orbit of the most beautiful woman in all of  France: Athénaïs de Montespan, the mistress to Louis XIV and reigning  “Shadow Queen.” Impetuous by nature, Athénaïs wields a disconcerting  amount of power-a fact that has ruffled many of the Sun King’s key  advisors.Needing someone to act as her eyes and ears, Athénaïs  hires Claudette as a personal attendant. The young stagehand leaves the  world of theater only to find that Court is very much like a stage,  with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This  parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are  plotting her ruin while young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot  in the king’s bed. Indeed, Claudette’s supposedly respectable new  position is marked by spying, rumormongering, illicit trysts, and  titanic power struggles.

As Athénaïs begins to lose her grip on  the Sun King, her plots and fascination with the magical arts take a  dark turn that makes Claudette question her allegiance to this mercurial  figure-and puts the young maid’s very life in jeopardy. Set against the  gilded opulence of a newly constructed Versailles and the blood-stained  fields of the Franco-Dutch War, The Shadow Queen is a seductive,  gripping novel about lust, power, loyalty and the increasingly uneasy  relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions have the  ability to shape the future of France (Synopsis from NetGalley).

I found this book to be easy to read and understand. It went quickly for me. I think that I read it in 2 days. There are some great characters in this book. You have the scandal and sex at court, the high and mighty church and the ups and downs of theater life. The court of Louis XIV held my interest. It was refreshing to read a historical fiction book that was not about the Tudors! One thing that I found as I finished this book is that the title seems to be a bit of a misnomer. The main character Claudette is the handmaiden to the king’s secret concubine. The story is about Claudette. Claudette spends most of her time in action behind the scenes and in disguise. Maybe a good title would have been Maid of the Shadows or The Maid of Loyalty and Secrets? I am still going to give this one a 5 out 5 stars.

39621P.S. Enough already I need to go get some reading done!!!

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