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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INCISIVE AND THOROUGHLY RESEARCHED, 18 Sept. 2002
This review is from: Madame De Pompadour (Hardcover)
Remembered today in narratives of the past, heralded in poetry and song, Madame de Pompadour, born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson in 1721, continues to be a fascinating and enigmatic figure.
The daughter of a mother noted for her beauty and high spirits, Jeanne inherited both of these qualities. In addition, a fortune teller predicted that the little girl would one day be the mistress of Louis XV. This foretelling Jeanne later told Voltaire "struck her with the force of a thunderbolt." And, it was a prophecy that the young woman seemed hellbent on fulfilling.
Christine Pevitt Algrant's comprehensive and cogent portrait of the woman who would, indeed, become the most potent force in the court of Louis XV is a welcome addition to the annals of history, as it includes a telling picture of a troubled France.
Courtiers were shocked when the humbly born Poisson became recognized as the king's maitresse declaree. After all, the king's prior inamoratas had all been members of the elite, born of royal lineage. However, it was one thing to become his lover, and quite something else to become his sole confidante and the power behind the throne. A title was purchased for her thus the transformation into Madame de Pompadour was complete. She was reviled by many, and obeyed by all.
With Versailles as her backdrop she became an important patron of the arts, nurturing such luminaries as Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, and Boucher. It was she who masterminded the building of the Petit Trianon Palace at Versailles.
Yet as a part of the world continued to be torn her quest for power was unsatisfied. France and England were at odds, and she cast a pall over the treaty allying France with her hated Austria. She succeeded in removing her enemies from positions of influence, and replacing them with trusted friends. Her creation of an opulent court incurred public wrath, and her political maneuverings created foes in court.
Nonetheless, the king's trust in his paramour never waned.
Incisive and thoroughly researched "Madame de Pompadour" bursts with color and intrigue. It is fact even more fascinating than fiction.
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Location: TX, USA

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