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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling Nancy, 20 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Madame de Pompadour (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Nancy Mitford is by far my favourite writer of fiction. All her novels are so well crafted, and piercingly and wittily observant of the manners and mores of her time and her class. They make me laugh-constantly.
I found myself also laughing at this biography, as the chatty style permeated through to the description of real characters and real events. It was just as if I was listening to her talking aloud in her upper-class accent about the intrigues of the Court of Louis XV at Versailles. What a rich tome, so well researched, so full of life. Perhaps her analyses of complex affairs such as the Seven Years War were lacking in academic rigour, and Nancy clearly did not see Madame de Pompadour's outrageous spending of public money on the acquisition of property and jewellery and furniture etc as morally decadent. But I really liked the book in spite of this.
I wonder what Louis XV would have made of Nancy if she had been a participant in the Versailles drama at the time?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written biography., 12 Feb. 2012
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I bought this book because I was looking for a book that covered the reign of Louis XV and that wasn't going to be too scholarly, after reading samples of various books I settled on this because of the depth and quality of the writing, it doesn't cover to the end of Louis XV's reign but it gave me a thorough knowledge of the social and political landscape of the day as well as enligthening me about this most interesting of women. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power behind the Throne!, 9 Jun. 2013
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Madame de Pompadour . Even after she has been dead four some hundreds of years most people historically inclined have heard of her. The long time mistress of Louis XV of France. Apparantely when she was nine years old her name at that time was Jeanne-Antoinett (not to be confused with Marie-Antoinett who arrived rather later and was a Queen who lost her Head) she was told by a fortune teller she would one day become the mistress of Lois XV of France a handsome and exceedingly virile young man. This account of her rise to power , for she truly did become the power behind the throne her influence with the King lasted until her death. By that time she and the King where 'just friends' her one daughter had died ,she was devastated by this loss. Also by two deaths within the Royal Family which she regarded as her own. Fascinating book written by Nancy Mitford who writes wonderfully ,it took me back in time .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Madame de Pompadour, 19 Nov. 2014
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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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As well as her wonderful novels, Nancy Mitford also wrote four, less known, historical biographies- Madame de Pompadour in 1954, Voltaire in Love in 1957, The Sun King in 1966 and Frederick the Great in 1970. This is the first of her biographies and it tells the life story of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, who, despite her comparatively lowly beginnings, was told by a fortune teller when she was nine that she would rule over the heart of a King and believed this prophecy completely. Despite being married with a young daughter, she saw her future as the mistress of the King of France and set about making herself the most influential woman at Court for many years.

The new Marquis de Pompadour comes alive in this biography, as Nancy Mitford delights in recreating the splendour of Versailles. Madame de Pompadour comes across as a generally kindly woman; who treated the Queen with respect, had a great love of family, a good sense of humour and was deeply in love with the King. We read of her love of the theatre, power struggles in the Court, war, politics and an attempt on the King’s life which nearly ended her relationship with him.

This is not the most scholarly biography you will read, but it is immense fun. Mitford writes as though she knew Pompadour intimately. Her style is sniping, gossipy, opinionated and she does not even pretend to be unbiased about her subject. The book comes alive when she discusses the world of Versailles, with the power struggles, etiquette, jealousies and rivalries which obviously interest her far more than the world of politics or battles. This is a wonderfully enjoyable read; although even when it was first published it was seen more as entertainment than a serious work of history. Still, her warm and informal style certainly paved the way for many modern history books, aimed more at the casual reader than scholarly works which were the norm at that time. As such, her biographies work perfectly, as they are utterly enjoyable and Mitford’s sheer delight in the world of Versailles shines through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous!, 22 Aug. 2014
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hiljean (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Madame de Pompadour (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This is one of the best historical biographies I have read, certainly the most accessible and enjoyable. Mitford writes, as always, in a beautifully fluent and chatty style yet demonstrates a real depth of knowledge. It probably helps if you have some French as there are a number of (untranslated) phrases and quotations, and if you know the prominent persons of the time. But the focus is very much on Mme de P, naturally, and Mitford creates a very vivid portrait of her through contemporary accounts, journals and letters, and explores what made her so successful in remaining Louis XV's "favourite" until her premature death at only 40 years old.

Mitford is unashamedly a fan of the Marquise, and attempts to justify her many extravagances in the context of the ruinous cost of the wars of the time; others might not feel so generous. But clearly this was a woman of considerable charm, intelligence and energy and it is difficult not to admire her resilience and taste, and her not inconsiderable achievements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars nancy mitford, 3 Feb. 2014
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Mrs. Imogen M. Skirving "Imogen Skirving" (LANGAR NR NOTTINGHAM UK) - See all my reviews
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I have read all her books over the past months. She deserves higher recognition as a readable historian, well researched she brings characters to life. Loved Madame de Pompadour and delighted to recommend it very highly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 10 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Madame de Pompadour (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I have always had an interest in Madame de Pompadour, this was very informative and interesting detailing her life and times would recommend to anyone so interested
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinaing take on history from a wonderful wrtiter, 6 Aug. 2014
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Beautifully written. Fascinating history.
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Madame de Pompadour (Vintage Classics)
Madame de Pompadour (Vintage Classics) by Nancy Mitford (Paperback - 6 Oct. 2011)
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