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Madame de Pompadour: A Life [Paperback]

Evelyne Lever , Catherine (Trn) Temerson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: £11.79
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Frequently Bought Together

Madame de Pompadour: A Life + Madame Du Barry: The Wages of Beauty + Madame De Maintenon: The Secret Wife of King Louis XIV
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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Griffin; Reprint edition (Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312310501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312310509
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Madame de Pompadour A riveting new biography of the legendary French queenfamily life in vienna, the wedding at versailles to louis xvi, the french court, boredom, hypocrisy, loneliness, allies, enemies, extravagant entertainment, scandal, intrigue, sex, birth and bereavement, lovers, peasant riots, the fall of the bastille, the attack on versailles, confinement in the tuileries, escape and capture, mob rule in paris... Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Evelyne Lever is distinguished French historian who is speciality is the ancien regime.

One of the most fascinating creatues of the ancien regime is the Marquise de Pompadour, the legendary maitrese en titre of King Louis XV. Posterity has not been kind to Madame de Pompadour. But neither were her contemporaries. The infamous poissonades (as she was born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson) attacked her and left her reputation in tatters.

Born into middle class, she was far from the royal court, but she was very carefully eductaed and groomed to become a royal mistress. That she made it to this position, is already amazing.But it is even more intriguing that she kept that position even after her sexual relations with the King had seized. For 20 years she was the all powerful mistress of the court, a Queen in all but name. How did that all happen?

La Pompadour - she got the title of Marquise from the King- was a woman of culuture, exquiste taste, entertaining, intelligent

Evelyn Levers book is written with much knowledge and passion. She has a great feeling for the time and knows how to re-created the world of the court in Versailles for modern readers. She clearly like Madame la Marquiese and focusses most intently on the Marquise's intimate life. She stress Madame de Pompadour's heroism and self-sacrifice in loving so selfish and thoughtless a man as Louis XV. But she forget a bit too much the bad sides of the Marquise.The book is therefore not really balanced. Her political influence is less well described.

But Mrs Lever clearly captured the essence of La Pompadour in an immensely readable form. What Nancy Mitford in her 1953 biographie staretd, Evelyne Lever continues: to redeem the name and reputation of the Marquise de Pompadour. It is not quite "the last word" on her, but a pleasure to read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done, Ms Lever 11 Nov 2002
...and of course her excellent translator!
I thoroughly enjoyed their last book on Marie-Antoinette, and this one is just as wonderfully written. I very much enjoy Ms Lever's easygoing storytelling and her ability to bring her characters to life.
Mlle Poisson was the first maitresse declarée to rise from outside the "ranks" and by sheer personality (and a bit of coaching), made it to be the most powerful woman of her age.
Although there is a wealth of other books on this subject, do read this one as well, it does fill out for the bits the other authors perhaps missed. I cannot recommend Ms Lever more highly!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating subject written in a good style. 29 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book primarily because I have long been interested in this lady who was the favourite mistress of King Louis XV of France. With great skill and maturity beyond her years, Jeanne-Antoinette, who was to become the future Madame de Pompadour, held her positon for twenty years long after the King's minor mistresses had failed to captivate. I also chose this book because it was written by Evelyne Lever who has also written Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Ms Lever's style is just perfect for the non-historian, not too academic but not Mills and Boon either. The book does not centre on the relationship of Louis and Madame de Pompadour alone; Ms Lever gives you a sense of time and place - I felt I had a better understanding of the social, political and economic situation of this period without reading heavy tomes of history books. I really enjoyed reading this book and I would highly recommend it.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So close, and yet so far... 21 Jan 2003
By "somethingsensible" - Published on Amazon.com
Having finished this book, I am struck with an uneasy dissatisfaction. Evelyn Lever did a very good job - so far as she went with her subject. But she leaves you hungry for more.
"Madame de Pompadour" is easier reading than similar works by Antonia Fraser, Amanda Foreman, and Alison Weir. Lever cites fewer sources in her text, relying primarily on simple footnotes with little comparison and contrast of conflicting sources. Nor does she go into the specifics or character of her sources, leaving the reader to wonder where the information is really coming from, who said what and why. In some instances, it is difficult to see how Lever came to her conclusions. This makes the book move faster, but it also creates a void in the overall effect.
The backdrop of the French court is not fleshed out with details of the period or placed into greater historical context. the reader is given no real sense of time and place, and this makes the two primary characters - Madame Pompadour and Louis XV - somewhat two dimensional.
As a lover of historical biography and a fan of the scholastic style used by Fraser and the others listed above, I was disappointed. The period and the personality of Jean-Antoinette de Pompadour did not come alive through the reading and I craved more details of her life - what she ate, what she wore, some speculation on *how* her tastes developed.
The detailing of the events of Madame Pompadour's life fall curiously flat. How on Earth did this woman retain the role of offical mistress when she flatly refused to sleep with Louis XV after the first 7 years of their relationship? Lever simply says that the King was "dependent" on her but does not detail why this might have been.
Also, this is the bio of one of the most famous professional courteasans in History - surely a bit more salacious detail was in order? there is practically no speculation or discussion of sex, and let's face it, when we read about a woman who traded her "virtue" for power, a little sex talk is what we're looking for.
I had read in "At Home with the Marquis de Sade" and other texts that the Parisian Police Chief of this time was in the habit of forwarding reports of his spies in the brothels of Paris to Madame Pompadour and the King so that they could enjoy a limited sex life through voyeurism. There was no mention of this in the text, not even to refute the assertion, although Lever cited the same sources as "de Sade," which causes me to speculate that perhaps the author has intentionally avoided this sort of detail.
On the whole, however, it's not a bad book. The details given are indeed fascinating - for example, an examination of royal patronage and the Royal Mistress's role in the development of the French china industry or carefully reconstrcuted descriptions of Madame Pompadour's tastes in antiques and architecture. The photo inserts, tho smallish, do contain some lovely examples of portraiture and Lever gives great attention examining the details in context of the subject's life.
Lever is thankfully not one of those biographers that becomes so infatuated with her subject that she cannot see and discuss her flaws. She reports Madame Pompadour's unpopularity without making a crusade of it, and does manage to bring a soild sketch of Madame Pompadour's personality through, despite the lack of intimate detail.
I would buy this book if you're looking for an easy read and find the details of historical context boring. But if you live for the historical detail and the minute descriptions that make a subject come alive to the reader, best that this book be skipped.
I'm told that there are more scholastically minded books on the market, including one with an introduction by Amanda Foreman. I intend to supplement my reading with these as soon as possible, because this book did convey enough of Madame Pompadour's fascination that I want to read more.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging, even-handed study of Madame de Pompadour 30 Jan 2003
By Richard Sawyer - Published on Amazon.com
Overall, this is a well-written, engaging portrait of Madame de Pompadour, as well as other important persons of the times, including Louis XV, the aristocracy, Pompadour's family members, etc. We learn much about Pompadour, her personality, how she managed her rise to prominence, the court intrigues. Her involvement in politics and the arts are addressed. I would have liked some more information on other aspects of French society (e.g., life of different social classes, the economy, foreign affairs) than is provided. I recognize that the main point of the book is a focus on Pompadour, yet I believe this additional information would have provided a fuller picture in which to understand Pompadour. Nevertheless, I would defintely recommend this book to a reader who wants to learn more about this important woman and the court life during Louis XV's rein.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars this is a simple read 17 Jun 2013
By Millie G. Herrera - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a simple read for someone who reads history often. I like the structure of the book and think it was well researched.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating life story 9 May 2014
By Art Travler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Every body knows the name Madame de Pompadour, but this will fill in many parts of her life
that are not common knowledge. She was not only a king's mistress, but a powerful player in royle life.
5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book very much. 9 Feb 2013
By C. Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I didint no a lot about the lady...but this book brought me into the world and it was an easy read for me...I dont like getting bogged down in a lot of useless details and since I dont speak french my mind certainly does not pronounce the words right...it was just enough history and glamour for me to get lost in...noing the King loved her so much...and she had a good head on her shoulders...made it so much a Great True story....I can only imagine what it would have been like to live in those days...seeing all the eligance...but as my mind comes back to reality...im sure id been lucky to be a servant in any of the manors....or palace...its a time lost in history...Just as well...but I did enjoy the book very much...B.W.
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