Louise de La Vallière: Mistress of the Sun King

Louise de La ValliereLouis XIV did not always have good taste when it came to women. Witness the nasty, (literally) poisonous Marquise de Montespan.

However one of his other mistresses stood out by her grace and dignity. I am thinking of Louise de la Vallière, the heroine of Sandra Gulland‘s new novel, Mistress of the Sun.

Louise (1664-1710) bore the King four children, only to suffer the indignity of sharing his attentions with Madame de Montespan.

She was also deeply religious and racked by remorse. At the age of 30, she renounced her position at Court and in the world to enter the Carmel under the name of Sister Louise de la Miséricorde.

I just began reading the novel last night and discovered Louise’s childhood love of horses (an autobiographical trait, maybe, Sandra?) A lot of research obviously went into 17th century horsemanship.

Sandra kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog. She went so far as to state, when I remarked on the similarity in the titles of our respective novels, that there always room for more than one mistress, especially when it comes to kings. That was certainly true of Louis XIV.

So stay tuned…

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13 Comments to “Louise de La Vallière: Mistress of the Sun King”

  1. Catherine Delors says:

    Me too, Ana!

  2. Ana says:

    Oh this is great news! Louise de La `
    Valliere is my favourite royal mistress and I’m getting the book soon. Looking forward to that interview! ;-)

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Indeed, Elena, there are some similarities between Louise and my fictional Gabrielle. I am at the point in Sandra’s novel where Louise arrives at Court and the story is taking a new turn.

  4. Louise was a lot like your Gabrielle, an innocent among wolves. She was a person of sweetness, intelligence, and honor. The biography I read about Louise was written by one of her sisters in Carmel; I wish I had a copy of it. In the end, Louise was the one whom everyone came to for strength and advice, including Madame de Montespan, and the Queen. Madame de Maintenon had very high regard for her as well.

  5. What an interesting comment trail under this post!

    Elena – I agree that it was a great idea to choose Louise’s life as a topic. Sometimes I am a bit tired of the Superwoman/Scarlet O’Hara type of historical fiction heroine.

    Maija – thank you for ordering my book! And I hope to compare notes with you you, Sheramy, Cinderella and Elisa once we all finish Sandra’s book.

    Richard – Madame de Brinvilliers was a cold-blooded killer who dispatched her father and two brothers. Of course my sympathy goes to her because she suffered the atrocities of the Old Regime’s criminal justice (“question par l’eau” in her case) and apparently she showed sincere repentance before her death. Still a very nasty woman during her lifetime, much nastier even than Madame de Montespan.

    Sibylle – I have not read Antonia Fraser’s book. Simone Bertiere also wrote about the mistresses of Louis XIV. Anyone else read those ladies’ works on the topic?

    And Ellen – thank you so much for the reference to Madame de Genlis’s novel. I have only read her Memoirs, but I knew she was a very prolific writer, in addition to many other things. I hope I can get a hold of it and compare both novels.

  6. Ellen Moody says:

    People might like to know that there is a older novel on the life of this woman. By Madame de Genlis, and it’s called (surprize surprize) _La Duchesse de La Valliere_. It’s in print and includes two letters by La Valliere and an introduction. Publisher is Librarie Fotaine, Library of Congress number PG1985 GT D8 1983.

    Ellen

  7. Sibylle says:

    What a coincidence ! I’ve just finished reading Love and Louis XIV, a biography of the women in the life of the Sun King written by Antonia Fraser. It really was exquisitely written. I really liked Louise de la Vallière as well, although I sympathized with all the women in his life at some point.

  8. Cinderella says:

    I recently bought “Mistress of the Sun” and hope to read it soon. I’m also looking forward to your interview with the author!

  9. Nancy Mitford begins her book the Sun King by writing. “Louis XIV fell in love with Versailles and Louise de La Valliere at the same time;”…

    Though I think Mme de Montespan was capable of poison and love philtres, it was poor Mme de Brinvilliers who paid the cost after torture. It is the same old story, one goes up the royal staircase and one goes down.

    Richard

  10. Elisa says:

    I’d like to read this book too! I’ve read Ms. Gulland’s Josephine trilogy and loved it.

  11. Maija Lepore says:

    I have not yet started reading Mistress of the Sun, but I loved Sandra’s trilogy about the life of Josephine B. I just ordered your book, and I can’t wait to DEVOUR it!

  12. Sheramy says:

    I just started reading Mistress of the Sun myself and am enjoying it. Looking forward to the interview!

  13. I love Louise and am so glad that someone has written a novel about her!

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