When I picked up this book, I was looking for historical fiction and I got it. Historical fiction was my staple for a long time and is still a comfort read for me, especially when I hit a slump. And to be honest, anything set in Versailles gets my attention even if Marie Antoinette is not part of the story. This book features the Sun King and is set slightly before Maria Antoinette arrives on the scene.
Jeanne du Bois is now back at Versailles, kicked out of the convent her father shipped her off to. She’s outspoken, and as far as her father is concerned, a hindrance to everything he needs to get ahead. Wanting her out of his house, he plans to marry her off to a man who can help him politically but does nothing for Jeanne romantically. Not wanting anything to do with her father’s plans, Jeanne does what she can to sabotage everything he’s set in place and goes on with her life as usual, which includes a secret life only she and her uncle know about. In this secret life, she poses as a musketeer and fights alongside the men tasked with protecting the crown. When Jeanne happens upon a plot to kill the queen, a woman she greatly admires, she finds can’t give up the charade. When love enters the picture, it becomes even more difficult to hide her feeling and cover up her second life.
I have to say, it’s totally unbelievable but it’s fun. Who wouldn’t want to be a sword wielding musketeer instead of standing around smelly Versailles waiting for someone more important to pass by? Although, I always love hearing about the court rituals and the silly gossip and this story has that and more. The details about the king’s toilette were at once fascinating and so strange I wanted to laugh. I’ll never understand how people, royalty or not, could live like that. And why anyone would put up with it to be in favor of the king confounds me, but not living in that time, I can’t even begin to understand the fascination with watching someone get their hair curled. But, yes, I like very much to read about it.
Jeanne is part of the upper class with the strange rituals but she shuns most when possible. The fencing lessons her uncle bestows on her are just one of her many offending traits, at least to her father. Her mother is interesting in that she wants to help her get out from under the tyranny of her father, who is just a cruel and mean individual, that can’t and won’t see the world around him even when it’s in his best interest to do so. You don’t ever feel sorry for him.
Love story time. Jeanne falls for her fellow musketeer Henri. Her father wants her to marry a sniveling little man named Poligniac because he thinks it will increase his access, and mostly to get back at Jeanne and his wife for transgressions only he seems to perceive. Without saying, there’s a happy ending here.
Donna Russo Morin is a new to me author but I’ve seen her books around. This is her first book for me. My library only had this one but I might have to see if it would be possible to get more. I liked her style.
The Courtier’s Secret
By Donna Russo Morin