Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland is wonderful piece of historical fiction set in the 17th Century of the Sun King, King Louis XIV’s court. I’ve been very lucky lately to read some exceptional historical novels and Mistress of the Sun is yet another one.
The novel is really a journey through Louise de la Valliere’s life although she was known to most as ‘Petite’. The story starts with Petite as a young girl of six years old. Petite is a bit of a tomboy, much preferring to ride horses and hunt then to sit and do needlework. One day in particular she is off with her father on a day trip and she sees a wild woman on a horse. This scene is beautifully written and one of my favorites…
- ‘A Romany woman in a crimson gown flashes by, standing on the back of a cantering horse. Her crown of turkey feathers quivers under the burning summer sun. “The Wild Woman!” announces the showman, flourishing a black hat. The crowd cheers as the lathered horse picks up speed. It tosses its big head, throwing off gobs of sweat and spittle. Its tail streams, and its hooves pound the dust. The Wild Woman puts out her hands, her diaphanous skirts billowing out behind her. Slowly, she raises her arms to the cloudless sky and shrieks a piercing war cry. A pale girl—barely tall enough to see over the rails—watches transfixed, imagining her own thin arms outstretched, her own feet planted on a horse’s broad back. She presses her hands to her cheeks in wonder. Oh, the wind!’ (pg 3, Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland)
Later Petite spots a beautiful white horse who she begs her father to buy as this is the horse she’s been dreaming of. He’s wild though and named Diablo as he’s said to have the Devil in him. Try as they might nobody seems able to get anywhere near Diablo. Petite takes it upon herself to try some old fashioned Bone Magic (which she knows is a sin) to see if she can’t tame him. She succeeds but at what cost?
Petite’s mother soon puts her in a convent and Petite finds that she really likes it there. It’s peaceful and she’s content and would like to continue in the religious life. However, this isn’t meant to be and instead Petite finds herself as a waiting maid to Princess Marguerite, a girl of higher nobility than herself. Later after Marguerite marries, Petite moves to the King’s court. He notices her and shortly thereafter she becomes his mistress.
The story then takes us into the beautiful and often treacherous world of the Court. As the King says, ‘At Court, nothing is as it appears. We all wear masks.’ (pg 197, Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland). As for Petite, she wasn’t prepared for this world in any way. I don’t think she was ever meant for a life such as it was at Court. She wasn’t devious and she wasn’t exceptionally beautiful but she loved Louis~not the King~but Louis the man; to her they were two different people. Petite struggles with the sin she knows she’s committing and also with all the ways of Court ~ such as the King having more than one mistress. This isn’t Petite’s way.
I loved this novel and would highly recommend it to those who like historical fiction and even those who haven’t read any~this novel is easily read. I even had a few laugh out loud moments when reading about certain ideas they had back in the 17th Century in regards to how to prevent pregnancies or ‘plucking a rose’ meant needing to use the washroom. I liked that I got to learn a bit about a King I had not yet encountered in my reading and I loved learning about Petite. She is a very likeable character in her vulnerability and the fact that she seemed so real. She had real fears and a high moral standard despite where she found herself in life. In the end Petite stayed true to herself and what was best for her~she was truly admirable.
I have to thank Sandra for having me along on her Blog Tour. I’ve got the Josephine B. trilogy on my shelf and look forward to reading it soon. As for Mistress of the Sun, I read it in a matter of days. It’s one of those novels where you just find yourself so entranced by the story you are unable to stop reading until the last page is turned. Make sure and pop into Sandra’s website here to learn more about her and her novels. You can buy Mistress of the Sun here in the US and here in Canada.
Please join me tomorrow when Sandra will be here with a guest post and I will be sharing a wonderful copy of this book with a lucky reader!
The book sounds lovely 😀
A love a good historical
Did you not just want to kick Louis’ royal behind when . . . you know. . . I don’t want to give it away. But I was sooooo mad!
You did a great review and it makes me want to read it. Also, I have something for you if you will check my blog sometime after 10:30 AM… Have a good day!
Sandra Gulland says
Lezlie, I did! (Want to, that is.)
Sandra Gulland says
Dar, thank you for such a wonderful review — very thoughtful and heartfelt.
Scrap girl says
I shall use that expression ‘plucking a rose’ to see the kind of reaction I will get. I really struggle with historical fiction – I have just given up on Holy Fools by Joanne Harris as I just can’t get into it. I hate to give up on books.
The book sounds good, but I find the cover annoying. I don’t like the writing across the woman’s face like that.
Ms. Lucy says
Hi Dar! Another book for you and I to share thoughts on:) I’m also reading it- and I’m totally enraptured by it. I just love Petite! Can’t wait for Sandra’s guest blog tomorrow. Thanks so much for your wonderful review:)
Wonderful review Dar. This sounds like a book I’d love!
Sounds fascinating. I’ve been wanting to read more from this time period, so great tip!
I truly enjoy historical fiction and this is a time-period that I haven’t read a lot about. Great review as usual and another book that I will get to blame you for!! 🙂
wow, this sounds like a fantastic historical novel. I wish I was on the tour! I would really love to read this one…off to the good reads tbr list!
What a wonderful review. This book is captviating and fascinating. I am impressed with the interesting travels and life that Sandra has experienced with her research. Living where she does must have its amazing moments. Thanks for this chance.
This historical novel appeals to me greatly. It was interesting to learn about this novel. thanks for the great review.
Jenny Girl says
This period in history just amazes me. From the fashions and customs to the French court and it’s King, it leaves me speechless. Excellent, excellent review.
I already put that Josephine trilogy on my TBR 🙂
Awesome review Dar… Pluck a Rose.. ha ha.. at work we have little sayings .. we say we “have to see a man about a horse..” For a joke I always say I have to “see a horse about a man..” and then we say..”I am off to see the wizard..” LOLOLOL.. anything to break up the day.. Once again.. nice review. I want to read this one.
great review Dar, I like historicals. The writing does sound beautiful.
S. Krishna says
I just finished this book and really enjoyed it. Great review!
I REALLY want to read this.
Sandra, thanks so much for stopping by and it was my pleasure reading your book.
Lezlie, I sure did want to kick some royal behind a few times! lol.
Bingo, thanks for the award.
Viv, I just loved that expression – pluck a rose. YOu know historical fiction isn’t for everyone. I think you either like it or don’t. Lucky for me I love it.
Kathy, this book has different covers depending on where you get it. This is the Canadian hard cover. I thought it was kind of cool although I’m not sure it suits what the novel is about.
Lucy, I haven’t checked google yet to see if your review is up. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it.
Jenny, I plan on making time for the Josephine trilogy later this summer. I just love descriptions of the court and gowns, etc!
Toni, we have that saying here too. Funny, usually I find we have such different ones. lol. YOu’d love this book.
Everyone else, thanks for enjoying my review and stopping by to leave me a comment!
Glad to hear you enjoyed this one. Now I’m upset that I wasn’t able to participate in the tour. 🙁
Diary of an Eccentric