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Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King | [Antonia Fraser]

Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King

The self-proclaimed Sun King, Louis XIV, ruled over the most glorious and extravagant court in 17th-century Europe. Now, Antonia Fraser goes behind the well-known tales of Louis' accomplishments and follies, exploring in riveting detail his intimate relationships with women.
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Publisher's Summary

The superb historian and biographer Antonia Fraser, author of Marie Antoinette, casts new light on the splendor and the scandals of the reign of Louis XIV in this dramatic, illuminating look at the women in his life.

The self-proclaimed Sun King, Louis XIV, ruled over the most glorious and extravagant court in 17th-century Europe. Now, Antonia Fraser goes behind the well-known tales of Louis' accomplishments and follies, exploring in riveting detail his intimate relationships with women.

The king's mother, Anne of Austria, had been in a childless marriage for 22 years before she gave birth to Louis XIV. A devout Catholic, she instilled in her son a strong sense of piety and fought successfully for his right to absolute power. In 1660, Louis married his first cousin, Marie-Thérèse, in a political arrangement. While unfailingly kind to the official Queen of Versailles, Louis sought others to satisfy his romantic and sexual desires. After a flirtation with his sister-in-law, his first important mistress was Louise de La Vallière, who bore him several children before being replaced by the tempestuous and brilliant Athénaïs, the Marquise de Montespan. Later, when Athénaïs' reputation was tarnished, the king continued to support her publicly as Athénaïs left court for a life of repentance. Meanwhile, her children's governess, the intelligent and seemingly puritanical Françoise de Maintenon, had already won the King's affections. In a relationship in complete contrast to his physical obsession with Athénaïs, Louis XIV lived happily with Madame de Maintenon for the rest of his life, very probably marrying her in secret. In the end, when his grandson's child bride, the enchanting Adelaide of Savoy, came to Versailles, she lightened the King's last years, until tragedy struck.

©2006 Antonia Fraser; (P)2006 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"One of the most enveloping popular histories of the current publishing season." (Booklist)
"Prolific royal biographer Fraser...has assiduously researched her measured yet engrossing study." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (110 )
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3.9 (35 )
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  •  
    Louise Laguna Niguel, CA, USA 04-27-08
    Louise Laguna Niguel, CA, USA 04-27-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent!"

    I was really surprised to find that Louis was a great husband and a very decent human being. I became fascinated by other characters in the book such as his young granddaughter-in-law. This is a wonderful book for people who appreciate excellent research and strong characters who really lived. Just loved it!

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lulu 04-29-13
    Lulu 04-29-13

    I ignore genre labels. Some of my favorite books are outside my genre comfort zone. Listening to audiobooks is still reading. Not theater.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Engrossing Biography of an Engrossing Man"

    This book does a very good job of capturing life at the court of the Sun King. It not only focuses on the brilliance of the court and the king but also his disappointments, his failures and his losses. And he lost a great deal, especially in his later years.

    An incredibly important historical figure, the Sun King was so much larger than life it would be easy to create a caricature of him. Ms. Fraser avoids the easy road and makes us realize that someone, who in his time was revered and reviled on the same level as God and the Devil, was also a human and his life was shaped by very human tragedies.

    Sometimes the authors biographies read almost like fiction. She can glamorize and idolize a person to the point that you know it cannot be accurate. She doesn't do that in this book. Perhaps because it would be hard to conceive of Louis being portrayed as more glamorous and more idolized than he actually was in real life.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samantha Eggler 04-18-10 Listener Since 2007
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    "Wonderful Listen"

    The book is a little slow in the beginning but once it gets going...it's an amazing journey. Hearing about the loves of Louis makes you realize how constrained life was for women. Some were major influences, others just toys to entertain a king. If you enjoy the detail of how daily life was for the king and his ladies this is the book for you.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela 07-08-10
    Pamela 07-08-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Loved it!"

    This was my second audiobook, and I loved it and could hardly put down my iPod. This book helped me walk and walk for miles. I am a fan of French and English history and royalty, and the narrator brought this period to life with her sophisticated language skills. Her pronunciation of the French words was fascinating, although I am definitely not an expert. Antonia Fraser is a fine writer, too, and I enjoy all her books for their well-researched details.

    Highly recommended, if you enjoy this time in history and are interested in the psychology of relationships.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hildegard2002 Massachusetts 12-03-11
    Hildegard2002 Massachusetts 12-03-11 Member Since 2008

    hildegard2002

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    "I wanted to like this book...but..."

    I really enjoy books about France, French history -- particularly the 17th century. So I really looked forward to this book. But I was so disappointed. Maybe it's my own fault. I should have realized that the title meant it would be all about his excapades with women. But this was over the top. I could barely follow who was who...when and where. After 4 hours of listening -- I did give it a decent trial -- I gave up and am downloading a new book. Other than the narrator whose voice was really engaging and probably the only thing that kept me listening, I feel as if I wasted an Audible credit on this one.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ron New York, NY, United States 12-11-10
    Ron New York, NY, United States 12-11-10 Member Since 2004
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    "I will never get that time back"

    This was a bit of a snore-fest for me. Some lives interest me, others apparently not so much. Maybe it's a cultural thing. I had a bad case of buyer's remorse halfway through "Love & Louis XIV."

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ellen 06-01-12
    ellen 06-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "ok"
    What made the experience of listening to Love and Louis XIV the most enjoyable?

    interesting but after about 8 hours I was getting bored and frustrated with all the names I could not keep track of. I quit at 3/4 of the way through thinking that I know he was a womanizer and had lots of mistresses but what more can this book tell me. not much.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin Newnan, GA, United States 09-04-10
    Robin Newnan, GA, United States 09-04-10 Member Since 2009
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    "lack luster"

    This was really hard to listen too. Could not keep me interested. Sorry, wish I could get my money back. Don't recommend it.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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