Synopses & Reviews
The Sun King
is a dazzling double portrait of Louis XIV and
Versailles, recreating the daily life of the King, his court,
and his ministers during France’s golden age. Nancy Mitford
introduces us to the architects, artists, and gardeners tasked
with transforming a modest hunting lodge into the most magnificent
palace Europe had ever seen, delves into the complex
and deadly court intrigues afoot in the new capital, and
chronicles Louis’s love affairs with a succession of mistresses
including the brilliant feuding marquises of Montespan and
Maintenon. Along the way we find Jean-Baptiste de Lully and
his fiddlers, floating behind the King’s gondola on summer
nights in Versailles; Racine translating Latin aloud to his
insomniac monarch; the Premier Médecin du Roi, Guy Crescent
Fagon, bleeding one royal after another to death—and at the
center of them all the demanding, mercurial, but remarkably
resilient personality of France’s sovereign for nearly three
quarters of the Grand Siècle.
Brimming with sumptuous detail and delicious bons mots, and
written in a witty, conversational style The Sun King restores a
distant glittering century to vibrant life.
The Sun King
is a dazzling double portrait of Louis XIV and Versailles, the opulent court from which he ruled. With characteristic élan, Nancy Mitford reconstructs the daily life of king and courtiers during France’s golden age, offering vivid sketches of the architects, artists, and gardeners responsible for the creation of the most magnificent palace Europe had yet seen. Mitford lays bare the complex and deadly intrigues in the stateroom and the no less high-stakes power struggles in the bedroom. At the center of it all is Louis XIV himself, the demanding, mercurial, but remarkably resilient sovereign who guided France through nearly three quarters of the Grand Siècle.
Brimming with sumptuous detail and delicious bons mots, and written in a witty, conversational style, The Sun King restores a distant glittering century to vibrant life.
About the Author
Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was born into the British aristocracy and, by her own account, brought up without an education, except in riding and French. She managed a London bookshop during the Second World War, then moved to Paris, where she began to write her celebrated and successful novels, among them The Pursuit of Love
and Love in a Cold Climate
, about the foibles of the English upper class. Nancy Mitford was also the author of four biographies: Madame de Pompadour
(1954; available as an NYRB Classic), Voltaire in Love
(1957), The Sun King
(1966), and Frederick the Great
(1970). In 1967 Mitford moved from Paris to Versailles, where she lived until her death from Hodgkin’s disease.
Philip Mansel is the author of six books dealing with French history, including a life of Louis XVIII (1981), The Court of France, 1789–1830 (1989) and Paris Between Empires (2001). He is currently at work on a life of Louis XIV.