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The Sun King [Unknown Binding]

Nancy Mitford
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Book Club Associates (1966)
  • ASIN: B005T4TEEU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,535,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nancy Mitford was born in London on November 28 1904, daughter of the second Baron Redesdale, and the eldest of six girls. Her sisters included Lady Diana Mosley; Deborah, Duchess of Devonshire and Jessica, who immortalised the Mitford family in her autobiography Hons and Rebels. The Mitford sisters came of age during the Roaring Twenties and wartime in London, and were well known for their beauty, upper-class bohemianism or political allegiances. Nancy contributed columns to The Lady and the Sunday Times, as well as writing a series of popular novels including The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, which detailed the high-society affairs of the six Radlett sisters. While working in London during the Blitz, Nancy met and fell in love with Gaston Palewski, General de Gaulle's chief of staff, and eventually moved to Paris to be near him. In the 1950s she began writing historical biographies - her life of Louis XIV, The Sun King, became an international bestseller. Nancy completed her last book, Frederick the Great, before she died of Hodgkin's disease on 30 June 1973.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still an effective book on Louis 20 July 2007
By MarkE
Having enjoyed Antonia Fraser's recent book, Love and Louis XIV, I picked this up in a charity shop, and I'm very pleased I did so. Mitford's book is still respected and it is cited in Fraser's bibliography as a source.

The book occupies a centre ground between popular and adademic history; a bit heavy at times for the former (but you do get the detail you want), and a bit light for the latter (but easier to read than most specialist history texts). It also has the benefit of the author's knowledge of court life, including an amusing anecdote about her own presentation at Buckingham Palace.

If you are interested in this period of French history I warmly recomend this book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Nobody understood the nuances of aristocratic society better than the Mitford sisters. No aristocratic society ever had more nuances than Louis XIV's.

That background and Nancy Mitford's witty prose make her study of Louis and her court so readable that her exhaustive research and genuine scholarship may be overshadowed.

To the unitiated, Louis is a gilt and ormalu figure rather than one of the most interesting personalities in European history. Anyone new to the Louis fascination will be infected, but Mitford's biography is also deep enough for readers who know much more.

Most biographers of Louis understand how interesting, funny, and complex his personality and long life were. Mitford explains this phenonomen well, and illustrates his personality by examining Louis's family, court, and surroundings.

Mitford lived near Versailles for many years and draws from hundreds of original French documents.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you need an informant on the inside... 20 Mar 2010
...Look no further. Mitford knew noblesse oblige being, as she was, in the upper class department and it shows throughout this book. Her obvious research and her ability to tell a good story make this a fairly brilliant place to start to get an understanding of Louis Dieudonne.

It is not highly in-depth and lacks details ie. about Anne of Austria, Louis XIII, the wars and policies. However I think for this is Mitford deliberately choosing to stay focused on the man and what he did domestically and socially leaving Philip Erlanger et al to deal with the politics.

The style of the book is textbook. It has a large number of pictures to go with the text and is written simply and to the point. This I'm assuming is the reason my eight year old nephew read and liked it whereas if he had read Erlanger he'd have been bored. And Mitford's Sun King is certainly not boring.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable introduction to Louis XIV 2 Oct 2011
Nancy Mitford's biography of Louis XIV is rather gossipy in tone; you can almost imagine that she's writing about people she's actually met, but very readable (probably because of the gossipyness). Unlike other biographies I've read there were no references although there was a list of sources used at the back of the book. This, taken together with the way Nancy Mitford writes, makes it very difficult for the reader to tell which bits (if any) are speculation on the author's part or disputed by other biographers.

Having said that, I think this makes a very good introduction to the court of Louis XIV. Throughout the book there are illustrations in both black and white and colour of the Royal family, courtiers and, of course, Versailles. There's also a fairly detailed family tree which is an absolute must when it comes to keeping track of who's who because of the similarities of name and title. It was a very engrossing read and it certainly helped this reader get her head round the different Louis' of the time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nancy Mitford is a must 22 May 2011
This was a very well written and witty book. I often read history books (which is, of course, useful being a history student) and they are usually pedantic, dull, and incredibly long-winded. An English lecturer once bewailed that historians have a certain way of writing. They do. Long and boring usually. Every so often a fast and vibrant history book with come winging its way into one's lap and this is one of them. Nancy Mitford's writing style is fresh, funny, and has personality but stays with the facts. The only other history writer to engage me fully was perhaps A.N. Wilson (writer of The Victorians and After The Victorians). Both writers tell you what happened as though they are sat right before you filling your head full of studies and personalities that have fascinated them which, to me, is what reading history should be like... it definitely should not feel like a chore.

From reading this book and becoming enthusiastic about Ms Mitford's style of writing within the context of historical tomes I've purchased her 'Madame de Pompadour' book and shall soon be obtaining a copy of her work on Frederick the Great.

In short this was a great read; fast, fresh and intriguing!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read... 31 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well written, interesting and fun. Nancy Mitford brings the period back to life and recreates the atmosphere and intrigues of one of the most famous kings of Europe.
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