Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review: Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland


Louise de la Valliere, aka Petite, loved horses from a young age. She willingly made "a pact with the devil" to tame a horse at a young age and lived with the haunting guilt of it throughout her life. Did her actions cause all the bad things that were to follow?

By chance, Louise earns a spot as a hand maid to the Princess and catches the eye of the King. What results is a passionate love affair.

This book is basically the life of Louise de la Valliere up through when she left the King's Court. It's a captivating book... rich with historical details that don't bog you down, passion, and intrigue. I absolutely loved the character of Petite. She was sensible, but human. I wanted to see her have some success and happiness.

It's always sad to me how much women in these historical novels sacrifice because of their relationships to the king. When they were young, she truly believed that he loved her, but as he grew older and the pressures of being a king began to weigh him down, she had to separate his two personalities...loving the man but not the king. I was sad to see her sacrifice so much of herself for him, but what choice did she have? She had given him everything.

I was also really interested in the way their faith was so superstitious and had a sort of folk religion quality to it. They all very much believed in the dark arts, demons, etc. but prayed to God for protection, and observed certain traditions, not so much out of love for God, but fear of consequences. (like to my practical mind why bother giving up sex for Lent when you're already having an affair? I mean, does it really matter at that point?)

I do have to say that I always seem to cry a little at these books. I just feel so much frustration over the injustice women had to endure, in particular giving up their children and never truly being loved. Call me crazy!

I highly recommend this captivating read. Once you start you won't want to put it down. It's engaging, interesting, and feels true to life. And I loved actually being able to visualize the castles that I had been to!

Rating: 4.5/5
Things You Might Want to Know: there's some sex.

Come back tomorrow for a guest post from the lovely Sandra Gulland and a giveaway!



Amy

20 comments:

Meghan said...

Religion feels so peculiar to me in these time periods. I know in the Middle Ages they even used magic words and certain jewels to stave off illnesses, but it was all related to Christianity in ways I can't understand at all. It would be considered witchcraft these days!

I'm glad you liked this. I have it on the TBR pile, although not for review.

Nicole said...

I skimmed a lot since I am going to be reading t for next week. Glad to know that you enjoyed it though.

lilly said...

I do wonder myself how much all the women in historical fiction actually had to endure emotionally, how subdued they were to the demands of men, especially kings and men of higher rank and office.
This book certainly sounds very interesting, I love HF and I have already put it on my wish list.

Julie P. said...

I know what you mean about the plight of women in those times. I loved this book and think it's a terrific example of what good historical fiction should be!

bermudaonion said...

I've been wanting to read this every since I read Booking Mama's review. You've just reinforced the feeling.

Tricia said...

I'm a big book crier. I think it's healthy! Thanks for the review!

Blodeuedd said...

This one sounds so lovely :)
A must read

Melanie said...

I love historical fiction. This looks like my type of book! I think my TBR wishlist has officially devoured me.

Jenny Girl said...

This book is so me. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's very evident from your excellent review.
Stop by when you have a chance. I have a little something for you award

Elizabeth said...

I'm excited to get my hands on a copy of this one. I've passed her Josephine B trilogy around to virtually everyone I know, so it will be good to have another one to make the rounds. =)

Jen - devourer of books said...

All these reviews are getting me really anxious to read this later this summer!

Beth F said...

All the reviews for this one has got me wanting to read it. Sounds so good.

Kacie said...

Have you watched The Duchess? Those are the same emotions I went through as I watched that movie. It was just painful to watch her situation as a woman, even a powerful woman. Made me mad. :)

The Tome Traveller said...

I really enjoyed this one and loved the character of Petite, too. I'll be back tomorrow for the guest post!
I have a giveaway going for it, as well, if anyone wants to increase their winning chances!

Dar said...

I really enjoyed this book as well Amy. I'm always frustrated when I read historical fiction and the treatment of women. I can't imagine handing my children over to someone's else's care all the time.

Chris said...

Sounds good Amy. I can't say that I heard of Petite but now I want to know about her.

Count me in.

Ruth @ Bookish Ruth said...

I love reading historical fiction, but I have to admit that, as a women, it's frustrating at times. I find myself shaking my head, thinking, "That's not fair!" so very often. I'm glad to be living in a time where women have much more freedom.

I'm glad you enjoyed Mistress of the Sun. It sounds like Sandra Gulland did an excellent job of creating believable characters. Thanks for the review!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I really enjoyed this one too! Can't wait to see the guest post.

samantha.1020 said...

This sounds SO good! I just can't read fast enough with all of these great books out there. Adding this one to the TBR list for sure :)

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. You bring up some very interesting points in your review about faith!

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