Read Athenais: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen of France by Lisa Hilton Free Online
Book Title: Athenais: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen of France|
The author of the book: Lisa Hilton
ISBN 13: 9780316778510
Edition: Back Bay Books
Date of issue: July 14th 2004
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.92 MB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1785 times
Reader ratings: 5.8
Read full description of the books:
I've read "Athenais" a few times, hoping to have a better sense of how to best evaluate it. I'm fascinated by the life and times of Louis XIV France. The Sun King's long-term mistress, notorious for her adulterous affair with the married king and for her alleged involvement in the Affairs of the Poisons, is a fascinating and mysterious figure. She is probably the most important of Louis's mistresses and she had the nerve, style, and influence to see her children advance to the highest possible echelons in court life where status and position were everything.
Unfortunately, this book suffers from two serious defects:
1) Information concerning Athenais is much too generalised. I read nothing new in this book. Although the information was well-written, an easy read, and accurate to the best of my knowledge, I'd heard/read all of it before. This isn't exactly Hilton's fault. There simply may not be much "new to know" about Athenais. Most of the book focuses upon Athenais's years as royal mistress with a few chapters concerning her fall from grace and later years as a private gentlewoman and philanthropist. Parts of the book appeared to veer off into details concerning other key players in Louis's court to fill in word count and book length. I was hoping to get a better sense of who Athenais was in her more private life, not merely her position as Louis's mistress. Evidently, details are too scant and this book simply presents many known facts about her life and career along with numerous speculations about Athenais's motives and attitudes governing her behavior.
2) Hilton displayed no objectivity for her subject. I ended up with the impression Hilton was either descended from Athenais or believed herself to be the reincarnation of Athenais. Her apologist attitude concerning some of Athenais's less admirable qualities and actions surpassed level ridiculous. Meanwhile, Athenais's own rivals are presented as avaricious, cunning, deceitful, and ungrateful to Athenais for her friendship.
Example: When Athenais deliberately flirted, enticed, and seduced Louis's attentions away from Louise de la Valliere (Athenais's "best friend") Athenais is excused and justified of every betrayal, cruelty, and abuse visited upon her predecessor. Athenais and Louis even insisted on keeping Louise (who sincerely loved Louis) in their household to retain the appearance that Louise was still Louis's mistress/favorite in order to protect Athenais's (a married woman) reputation. To Hilton, Louise is a sentimental ninny unworthy of the public role of maitresse en titre to royalty, Athenais was more worthy and therefor Louise "deserved" to be pushed aside and taken advantage of. When the king's interest drifted from Athenais to Madame de Maintenon (governess to Athenais's children), however, Hilton portrays Mme. de Maintenon as a religious hypocrite, backstabber, phony friend to Athenais, etc..
This lack of objectivity gave the book a tabloid, unprofessional quality despite its lively narrative.
Overall, this is a readable book about an interesting historical figure, but if you've already read up on Louis XIV, you probably already know everything there is to know in this book.
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