Before Versailles: Before the History You Know…a Novel of Louis XIV

Before VersaillesBefore Versailles

Karleen Koen writes the life of Louis XIV during a three month period in 1661.  At 22 years of age, he has the opportunity to change the face of the court and its workings by taking charge of departments upon the death of  Cardinal Marzarin.  Although he is replaced by an equally powerful man, Viscount Nicholas, ultimately King Louis removes him from office.

The intrigues of court would not be complete without the intrigues of the women that made the court their life.  Intrigue, rivalries, jealousies, and outright power struggles between the women were normal and the writing helped to define the role of women in society at the highest level.  The dress, help, social mores and values help to clearly define the progress for women from slave and bedmate to business owners and elected officials.

I found the social aspects of the period colorful, dangerous, and full of intrigue.  Written from a woman’s perspective, it may not have the swashbuckler of other authors about the King, it has immense value in defining “the game of court”, the concept of marriage, and the true test of the period – loyalty.




I’m not sure where the time has gone, but I know I felt old when attending my Granddaughters High School Graduation in June.  It didn’t help I was still on antibiotics for bronchitis, or that having lived in rural American for 15 years our pace isn’t anything like that of city folk.  But moving at “big city” pace made me even more tired.

We see that pace in people on vacation who haven’t turned off their cell phones, or figured out how to drive on a road with absolutely no other cars.  It takes 10-14 days to enjoy the night sky and not be frightened by the sound of silence.  And you can see the wonder on their faces when they visit the grocery store and see the limited choices – how do you eat here?  It would be nice to have more stores to shop in and live theatre and art museums to enjoy.  But that requires more people and a more hectic pace.  I’ll take the sound of silence and a less hectic lifestyle.