Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France

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9780007166091: Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France

A compelling new biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV of France with dramatic insights into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful and feared women to grace the world's stage.From her modest beginnings in early 18th-century Paris to her reign as the undisputed mistress of Versailles, this is the story of a truly remarkable woman whose astonishing rise confounded the most experienced and the most sophisticated of her contemporaries.Algrant weaves her richly textured narrative with tremendous authority, detailing the transformations that marked the life of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson from her early grooming to assume the role of a rich man's wife, her half-hearted marriage to a Parisian tax collector, her involvement with the financial elite of France and her eventual role as the mistress of the king.Although accustomed to the king's extra-marital liaisons, the court was shocked at the sudden ascension of the low-born Madame Poisson. The newcomer, however, wasted no time in establishing herself as the king's sole confidante and, ultimately, his indispensable partner in affairs of state.Algrant takes the reader into the farthest and most exclusive chambers at Versailles, allowing us to glimpse the resourcefulness and the determination with which Madame de Pompadour deftly manipulated the factions at the court. She also illuminates her influence across the artistic and political spectrum of the day, including her relationships with the leaders of the French Enlightenment: Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot. Evocative and insightful, this is a seductive portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the age.

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About the Author:

Christine Pevitt Algrant was born in Lancashire and studied classics at Cambridge University. She has worked as a television reporter and publisher in London and New York, and now writes on the history of 18th-century France. Her previous book, Philippe, duc d'Orleans was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

From Library Journal:

Here are two biographies of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, who became famous in 18th-century France as mistress of and confidante to Louis XV. When Poisson was young, a fortune-teller predicted that she would become the mistress of the king, and thereafter she was groomed by family and friends for the role. Eventually, she became a patron of the arts and was known to such luminaries as Voltaire and Montesquieu. In 1745, when she came to Louis XV's attention, she transformed herself into Madame de Pompadour. Poisson was given rooms at Versailles, and, though she was the king's lover for only five years, she remained his close adviser until her death. Algrant, author of Philippe, duc d'Orleans, a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, has written a well-researched volume on Madame de Pompadour. While previous biographies, such as Margaret Crosland's Madame de Pompadour: Sex, Culture, and Power, have focused on the cultural and sociological aspects of her era, Algrant brings her to life in an engaging study that will appeal to the general reader as well as the specialist. Leading French historian Lever (e.g., Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France) delivers a well-researched biographical account that gives a picture of Louis XV as well as of Madame de Pompadour in an easy-to-read manner. While Algrant's account tells more about Poisson's early life and rise as mistress, Lever's discusses more broadly the king's history of mistresses and life at court. Both books ably describe Madame de Pompadour's influence on France and the French people. Algrant's book, written in a slightly more accessible, storytelling manner, may bring the famous courtesan a bit more vividly to life than Lever's, but both biographies are recommended for most collections. [Algrant's book was previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/02.]-Mary Salony, West Virginia Northern Community Coll. Libs., Wheelin.
--Mary Salony, West Virginia Northern Community Coll. Libs., Wheeling
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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