As only brother to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, Philippe, Duke of Orleans lived forever in the shadow of his older brother. Because of the numerous uprisings in France by a younger brother of the King, Philippe was taught from birth that he could never outshine his brother or be given any prominent place in his government. Because of this, Philippe led a fairly "wasted" life, perhaps best known for his flagrant homosexuality. Yet author Nancy Nichols Barker points out that when allowed to shine, the Duke was a competent soldier, lover of fine arts, good father and the founder of the Orleans dynasty which eventually ruled France. While the progeny of Louis XIV died out with the revolution, the descendants of Philippe populated the great Catholic thrones of Europe.
The author does a good job with source material and especially the "psychological" background of her characters, such as Philippe and his two wives, Henriette of England and Elizabeth Charlotte of Palatine. The first marriage was a disaster but the second marriage flourished for a long time. Elizabeth Charlotte or Liselotte is given a major part of the biography and her background is presented in a very interesting manner. I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in French history.