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Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France Paperback – 22 Jul 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (22 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007166095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007166091
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 177,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘More than just a fine portrait, Algrant’s “Madame de Pompadour” makes you hear the rattle of the tumbrels, just thirty years down the road.’ Alistair Horne

‘Historical drama related with great flair and knowing affection for the colourful characters’ all-too-human foibles.’ Kirkus Review

‘[A] riveting new biography.’ Antonia Fraser, Mail on Sunday

‘Mordantly witty.’ Emily Eakin, New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Christine Pevitt Algrant was born in Lancashire and studied classics at Cambridge University. She has worked as a television reporter and publisher in London and New York, and now writes on the history of 18th-century France. Her previous book, Philippe, duc d’Orleans was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.


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4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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As written on the back cover of this edition, Madame de Pompadour was one of the most fascinating and influential women of 18th century France.
The all-powerful mistress of a depressive, moody and lazy Louis xv, the Marquise has always been a familiar name to French schoolchildren like myself.
A patron of the Arts she also acted as an unofficial Prime Minister for many years.
Unfortunately this book by Pevitt Algrant leaves much to be desired.
Undoubtedly well-researched, it is a pretty boring account of the lady's life. The author's decision to follow a chronological order from her birth in 1721 to her death in 1764 is very disappointing. I would have preferred a better structure, a selection of themes. Furthermore it is never as captivating or engrossing as it should be. Too few anecdotes, too little humour, the past never really comes alive. Why for instance write so little about her sex life ? She was after all a scheming beauty who used her looks to get to the sex-mad king's bed !
It is sad to report that in my view the best part of this 300 page long book lies in the very final chapter and especially in the 5 page long Afterword. What a waste !
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Fairly detailed account of the life of the subject person & her lover Louis XV. What struck me most in this book is what a lousy king Louis really was. Aside from his dealings with underage girls (with Mme de Pompadour acting as his pimp) the guy seems to have been absolutely useless - during the 7 year's war, when France got kicked around really bad, he simply could not be bothered to do anything else than hunting. While Pompadour may have had her flaws (less than ideal choices for her 'favorites' to run the country) at least she did something. I found neither her nor Louis very fascinating personalities which is why I found this book a bit less captivating than the one about Philippe d'Orleans (the regent) by the same writer.
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Very interesting, but a bit biased in her favour.
She seems a surprisingly cold person, narcissistic and prone to jealousy. She certainly knew how to get and maintain power, but I don't think she used it wisely.
I'd recommend this book.
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