#BookReview: Versailles by Elizabeth Massie

versailes bookreview

Versailles, 1667. Louis XIV is 28 years old and King of France. Still haunted by the memory of the Fronde, an opposition lead by the nobility against his father, Louis knows that he must tame the French aristocracy or risk being toppled by them. Louis conceives of the construction of Versailles – the greatest palace the world has ever seen – as a gilded prison designed to keep the nobles out of Paris and under his control. As his enemies circle, Louis XIV proves to be an extraordinary strategist, manipulative, and Machiavellian. There is nothing he will not do to ensure his sovereignty.

Meanwhile, court becomes a battlefield of tactical liaisons and private passions. Louis’ queen, Theresa of Austria, must fight to keep her husband’s attentions while he falls under the spell of his powerful mistress, the sister of the King of England. As tensions rise, Versailles proves to be more than a palace, it is a labyrinth of treason and hushed secrets, of political schemes and deadly conspiracies. It is a place of passion and death, love and vengeance.

From the publishers, Corvus Books, in exchange for a review.  This is the Novelisation of a new BBC2 Drama, and you can tell the show was done first, the book afterwards. There’s a particular style of presentation to this book – there’s lots of chopping and changing to scenes, few lasting more than a page. There’s lots within the book (and I suspect the show) designed to keep people entertained – lots of sex of most combinations allowed in a post-watershed BBC drama, intrigue, clothes, war, blackmail, scenery, parties etc.

As to the book itself – as expected from the writing style, it’s a fast read and easily got through. There’s not much in terms of exposition etc. It is the “book of the series” after all, and let’s not bog the story down with too much that’s not included in the show. I believe that the series is going to be 10 parts, and by the looks of things, this is the only book tie-in, so there’s a lot to cover.

Here’s a trailer for the BBC2 show that this relates to:


About this author

Elizabeth (Beth) Massie is a 2-time Bram Stoker Award winning author of horror/suspense/mystery novels and short fiction for adults. She also writes media-tie in fiction and historical fiction.  (I believe she has also written the 3 book series tied to The Tudors drama series)


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