With a rich and tense narrative and an excellent attention to historical detail, Marci Jefferson has penned an outstanding piece of historical fiction based on the life of Marie Mancini who captured the heart of the 17th century French King, Louis XIV with her newest novel Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015).
Based on the historical fact of a horoscope indicating that Marie would cause more trouble than good, her mother demanded that Mancini’s uncle, Cardinal Marazin (who also plays a prominent role in the novel), put her in a convent and keep her there for her life. This of course, did not happen.
For this reviewer, Enchantress was enchanting in more ways than one.
The court life with its rules and rituals fascinated and also frustrated this reviewer. I am a student of history but also very much a product of modern America and I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t Louis just deal with the situation and out right marry Marie?” But here Jefferson does a good job of reminding the reader that royalty have their own ways (and burdens) they must live with and that the implications of what kinds of relationships a King or Queen has or doesn’t have, does have implications outside the boundaries of their own country.
It seems to me that the definition of love in the novel was one of obligation to national and family loyalty and duty first and then only to the romantic impulse, if at all possible. For ss much as Louis and Marie expressed love for one another, duty to country was foremost and ultimately was followed. How different is the definition of love today in the Western world.
The novel’s characterization created in this reviewer both loyalty and support for Marie and others and utter disgust for characters such as Cardinal Marazin. In fact, this is what drew me in and kept me reading the book which I finished within a few days of starting. Jefferson does a wonderful job creating an emotional response to the novel’s characters.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were strong, the plot was dynamic, and the story had dramatic elements that drew me in. I think that is what a good novel does.
I rate Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King’s Court an “outstanding” read!
Note: I received a galley copy of Enchantress from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.