The Princess de Montpensier, by Madame de Lafayette (and now Bertrand Tavernier)

Princesse de Montpensier Melanie Thierry

Princesse de Montpensier: Melanie Thierry

Madame de Lafayette’s most famous work is -righty- the Princess de Clèves, mais she also wrote memoirs and short stories. One of them, the Princess de Montpensier, is available online in English as well as the beautiful, original 17th century French version.

Montpensier does not show the same mastery as Clèves, written 16 years years later, but it foreshadows the great 17th century novel. Like it, it is a work of historical fiction, set in the 16th century, this time during the Wars of Religion that tore France apart during the reigns of the last Kings of the Valois dynasty. Here already Madame de Lafayette makes the exploration of a woman’s feelings her central theme.

Princesse de Montpensier Melanie Thierry

The Princesse de Montpensier: Melanie Thierry

Princesse de Montpensier was recently turned into a film of the same name by veteran director Bertrand Tavernier (In the Electric Mist). The plot follows Madame de Lafayette’s story: Madame de Montpensier (Mélanie Thierry) is caught between the exigencies of her forced marriage to a jealous husband (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet), often called away by war, her longtime passion for a cad (Gaspard Ulliel, as the Duc de Guise), and the devotion of a third man (Lambert Wilson, as the Comte de Chabannes) who truly loves her.

Montpensier was presented at the 2010 Cannes Festival, where it garnered mostly lukewarm reviews, though critics agreed on the visual appeal of the film. To be released shortly in Europe. In the meantime, here is the trailer…

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