Tag Archives: Athenais de Montespan

The Shadow Queen Book Review

William Shakespeare wrote the following:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances”

Sandra Gulland’s new book, The Shadow Queen is about the roles we play in life, on and off stage.  Claudette is the daughter of impoverished actors in 17th century France.  Her mother has an astonishing rise in status, becoming one of the most recognized performers of the day. Even though Claudette is in close quarters with Moliere and other playwrights of the era, she and anyone associated with players are outside of  what was considered to be respectable society.

As a girl, Claudette has a chance encounter with Athenais de Montespan, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful  aristocrat. Years later, Claudette again finds herself in again in close contact with Athenais, who has become mistress of Louis XIV. Known as the Shadow Queen, Athenais persuades Claudette to become personal attendant. Drawn in by the idea of wealth and respectability, Claudette gives up the theater, but finds that being at court is like being on the stage. She soon discovers that her mistress will do anything to keep the King’s favor and discredit any other woman who would dare to take her place in the King’s bed.

Did I like this book? I’m not entirely sure. Ms. Gulland is a good writer, it was an easy read. She obviously did her research. But I wasn’t drawn in as much as I would have liked to be.

Do I recommend this book? I don’t know.


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