Paris 1660 during the reign of the Sun King
This historical fiction set against the gilded opulence of Versailles is essentially the story of two persons: the main character being Claude des Oeilletes also named Claudette, an impoverished young woman and of Athénaïs, Madame Montespan, member of the high society and mistress to Louis XIV. “Shadow Queen” tells the relationship between these two women who are both close in age.
As part of the theatrical world Claudette lives in the shadows of society till she joins Athénaïs in her opulent world, a world of corruption and black magic……as her personal attendant. Life is full of surprises and Ms. Gulland paints a riveting portrait of the times. Vividly describing the ongoing war between the théatres of Corneille, Molière and Racine and the never ending battles between the théatre and the Church not forgetting to highlight the tumultuous life at the French Court ….
The book transports us to an era with a strong imagination to make the story captivating and a lot of impressive research to add some historical facts to make it believable. The rich details and the colourful characterization should have pulled me in right from the start but it never managed to do so. The pacing was extremely slow and never did take off, the well needed push to hold my full attention to the end never came. I may have struggled keeping my mind on the subject but I still say Ms. Gulland is an expert in her field and is a very talented storyteller.