"A grand yet intimate look at the Sun King, a tale rich with detail and action."—Library Journal (Starred Review, one of the best historical novels of the year)
Before Versailles transports you to a world of secret passions and plots, a world of duplicity and malice...a world that created one of the best-known monarchs to grace the French throne.
At the most decisive time in the young king's life, Louis XIV can taste the danger. His court teems with greed and corruption, the wrong woman draws him into a wrenching love affair, and a mysterious boy in an iron mask haunts the woods. The untried ruler is coming into his own in 1661, and Louis XIV must face what he is willing to sacrifice for honor and for love.
Meticulously researched and gorgeously brought to life by New York Times bestselling author Karleen Koen, Before Versailles offers up a sumptuous, authentic exploration of a time that forged a man into a king.
Praise for Before Versailles:
"In this magnificently written and researched novel, Karleen Koen brings to vibrant life the early years and loves of the future Sun King."—Jean M. Auel, author of The Clan of the Cave Bear and the Land of Painted Caves
"A baroque cornucopia spilling over with intrigue, passion, jealousy, ambition, and rich historical detail, Before Versailles offers a glittering glimpse of the crucial months that shaped Louis XIV into Europe's most powerful monarch."—Eleanor Herman, author of Sex with Kings
It's good to be the king, but also lonely and dangerous, according to Koen's lively historical about Louis XIV's efforts to establish himself as a model monarch. The novel begins in 1661, when Cardinal Mazarin's death leaves the superintendent of finance, Nicolas Fouquet, chomping at the bit to take over the most powerful job in France. Unfortunately for him, 22-year-old Louis relies on self-taught Jean-Baptiste Colbert rather than self-serving Fouquet, taking on royal cash-flow problems, civil strife, and international and bedroom politics, only to discover the greatest threat comes from within his own family. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Louise de la Baume le Blanc tries to keep the honor in maid-of-honor, not an easy task when serving Henriette d'Orleans, though Louise is far more interested in a mysterious boy in an iron mask. Thinking about Henriette, Louis comes across Louise. Thinking about the boy, Louise comes across Louis. The rest is history. Following solidly in the footsteps of Dumas, Koen (Dark Angels) reveals independent-spirited Louise to be a modern heroine in period costume, and, with her focus on the time just before Louis becomes the unrivaled Sun King, she finds the era ripe for intrigue and romance, not to mention possible sequels.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Rich, relatable characters
I adore Koen's writing. It is the way she paints her characters as complex, strong individuals that draws you in. You can imagine their modern day counterparts acting in much the same way and you realize the past is not so different than our world today. Despite this, the story is complete with details from the sun king's France. You are transported to the royal court with it's extravagance and intrigue.