Title: Mistress of the Sun
Author: Sandra Gulland
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
From the back cover:
Set against the magnificent decadence of the seventeenth-century French court, Mistress of the Sun begins when an eccentric young Louise falls in love with a wild white stallion and uses ancient magic to tame him. This one desperate action of her youth shadows her throughout her life, changing it in ways she could never imagine.
Unmarriageable, and too poor to join a convent, Louise enters the court of the Sun King, where the king is captivated by her. As their love unfolds, Louise bears Louis four children, is made a duchess, and reigns unrivaled as his official mistress until dangerous intrigue threatens her position at court and in Louis’s heart.
A riveting love story with a captivating mystery at its heart, Mistress of the Sun illuminates both the power of true and perfect love and the rash actions we take to capture and tame it.
Historical fiction is increasingly becoming one of my favorite genres. As I’ve read more and more, I’ve formed an idea of my head of what makes a good historical fiction novel. Lifelike and sympathetic characters are very important, as is a good storyline. But what really sets a good historical fiction apart is impeccable research and historical details. If you’ve learned something new (that is historically accurate) from the novel, you know it’s probably a good one.
I was really looking forward to reading Sandra Gulland’s Mistress of the Sun. All I knew about Louise de la Valliere was what I learned from the Alexandre Dumas novel. I honestly didn’t even know she was an actual historical figure until I picked up this book. I’m so glad I did pick it up though – Mistress of the Sun is an impeccably researched, well written, and completely captivating historical fiction novel.
I was so impressed with the amount of detail in Mistress of the Sun, and for good reason. According to Sandra Gulland’s website, it took her eight years to write this novel. There are so many little historical tidbits, juicy nuggets of information that any fan of historical fiction will savor. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I came away feeling like I learned a lot about Louise (called Petite in the novel), the court of Louis XIV, and France in general.
Louise was a very well-written character that I definitely sympathized with. I could really tell she loved the king and just wanted to be with him. I really liked her distinction that she was in love with Louis, not the king of France. She loved the man and tolerated the title. I hated what she went through in order to be with him, and how she had to let Louis walk all over her because he was the king.
One of my favorite parts of Mistress of the Sun was the epilogue, which was written from the point of view of Louise’s daughter. She basically asked all the questions I was wondering the entire novel – did Louis really love Louise or was she just one of his whims? I loved the fact that Louise’s daughter was looking at the whole situation and asking the same questions that the reader was.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, or are interested in the court of Louis XIV, this book is a must read. If you like Sandra Gulland’s Josephine trilogy, you will enjoy Mistress of the Sun as well, though it is written very differently. I found the way Mistress of the Sun was written to be much more compelling. I definitely enjoyed this book and hope to read many more of Sandra Gulland’s books in the future!
Thank you to Diane for sending me a copy of this book to review!