Set against the magnificent decadence of the seventeenth-century French court, Mistress of the Sun begins when an eccentric young Louise falls in love with a wild white stallion and uses ancient magic to tame him. This one desperate action of her youth shadows her throughout her life, changing it in ways she could never imagine.
Unmarriageable, and too poor to join a convent, Louise enters the court of the Sun King, where the king is captivated by her. As their love unfolds, Louise bears Louis four children, is made a duchess, and reigns unrivaled as his official mistress until dangerous intrigue threatens her position at court and in Louis's heart.
A riveting love story with a captivating mystery at its heart, Mistress of the Sun illuminates both the power of true and perfect love and the rash actions we take to capture and tame it.-- Touchstone
MISTRESS OF THE SUN is one of the best historical fiction books that I've read in recent memory. I think one of the main reasons for this is the character of Petite. The book starts out when Petite is a young girl, and I think this really gives the reader additional insight into her character and her motivations. So much of what happened to her when she was young -- from the death of her father, to her love of horses, to her relationship with her mother, to her dabbling with bone magic -- have a large impact on her for the rest of her life. Petite really was a very complex and interesting woman. I thought Ms. Gulland did a fantastic job of developing her character and making me feel as if I "knew" her.
Another thing I really liked about this book was how the author portrayed the relationships between the characters. So many of the relationships were really well developed and multi-dimensional. I found the interactions between the characters to be rather complex, and they gave me plenty to think about. I especially enjoyed reading about the love affair between Louis and Petite in its later stages, although I also found Petite's relationship with her mother to be interesting too.
As I mentioned earlier, I love to learn things when I read a book; and MISTRESS OF THE SUN was filled with so much historical data. Of course, I learned about this historical figures of this time, but I really appreciated all of the little "extras" thrown in. I was especially impressed with the information about the medical practices during this period (most were kind of gross.) And, I loved learning about all of the superstitions that people believed to explain the unexplainable. I can't even count the number of times I found myself learning something new in this book. It's just so evident to me that Ms. Gulland did a huge amount of research while writing this novel -- it took her eight years!
I have never read any books by Ms. Gulland, but I can definitely say that I will be adding all of her books to my TBR list. I can't wait to read the Josephine books! Not only did I find MISTRESS OF THE SUN to be quite interesting, but I also liked the way she told this story. I thought her writing was terrific; and the story and characters were very easy to follow -- I couldn't put this book down. Ms Gulland has a great blog where you can learn more about her as well as find loads of book club resources on all of her books.
I highly recommend MISTRESS OF THE SUN! I know that the women in my life who enjoy historical fiction books will definitely appreciate this book. I also think it would make a great book club pick, especially if your group wants to learn a little something about seventeenth-century France. There are so many great things to talk about including Petite's relationship with Louis, Petite's relationship with her parents, as well as the themes of guilt, sacrifice, and even ghosts and magic. There is also a reader's guide which will help start your discussion; and I was really impressed with how thought-provoking the questions are.
Make sure you come back tomorrow because Sandra Gulland, the author of MISTRESS OF THE SUN, will be stopping by with a terrific guest post. And as an added incentive, I will be giving away a copy of the novel to one very lucky reader!