Thursday, April 23, 2009

BkRv: Blindingly brilliant as the sun

Mistress Of The Sun
Sandra Gulland
@Sandra_Gulland :: website


FIRST LINE :: It was 1650, year eight in the reign of young Louis XIV - a time of famine, plague, and war. In the hamlets and caves and forests beyond, people were starving and violence ruled. The girl had just turned six.

SUMMARY :: from the B&N website
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.
I have not read as much historical fiction as I should, but I definitely want to. Whatever books I have picked up (it's been so long that I don't remember) became so very dry after the first page...or paragraph...okay, maybe sentence. However, I decided to give The Mistress Of The Sun a try after checking out Sandra's website and found her to have a wonderful writing style.

The Mistress Of The Sun chronicles the life of Louise de la Vallière from age six onward. The first chapter opens with her charming obsession with horses, particularly a wild White horse that she has convinced her father to purchase. I am sure you can imagine how wild the horse is if its name is Diablo. No one can tame him, but Louise is so determined to ride this beautiful horse that she eventually turns to "bone magic" (viewed as the Devil's magic). Because she resorts to this "evil" magic, Louise forever feels that the Devil is lurking by her bedside.

But taming horses is hardly considered very ladylike, and her mother prefers Louise to spend more time with needlework and cooking. The following excerpt is hilariously ironic, and I am sure that Sandra had deliberately meant to write it that way:
From page 12 :: "It's not seemly to discuss such things with a girl," Françoise [Louise's mom] told Laurent [her dad] under her breath. "As it is, she spends too much time with the horses. It's time she started acting like a lady." She plunged her knife into the breast of the rabbit, splitting it into two with one stroke.
Needless to say, no matter how her mother desires Louise to become a lady - even sending her to a convent - Louise never sheds her love for horses and riding.

Through a series of family misfortunes, Louise eventually ends up as a maidservant to the English princess Henriette, sister-in-law to the Sun King Louis XIV. She catches the king's eye when she proves her excellent horsemanship by besting him during a hunting expedition. However, the Sun King is already married to bring a political unity between France and Spain.

Yet, try as they might, Louise and Louis cannot fight against their growing attraction forever.
From page 90 :: His fingers - which felt soft, not calloused at all - lightly brushed her wrist, sending a jolt through her. She thought of a line from the romance Nicole had been reading to the Princess: Adieu, my beloved. I know you not, yet I know you. It did not seem like such nonsense to her now.
I could not help but feel affectionate towards Louise and despair as well at her romantic plight. She had spunk and did not care too much at her unladylike behavior, but she did tread carefully to not get caught with her knickers down. Sandra wove a charming tale that is rich in detail as it is mildly gross. Before this book, I had not realized the potential messes one could make on a dress after using a chamber pot!

Overall, I am thrilled to have discovered Sandra Gulland and hope to track down her Josephine B. Trilogy about the Napoleonic era!



  1. Ahh, it's fun to read about girls standing up for themselves in these typed of books. Great review!

  2. 'as rich in detail as it is mildly gross.' I love your reviews :) This sounds good.

  3. Liyana: It's true - It definitely makes history seem more worthwhile to read about :)

    H: Haha, it's true! There is such a thing as TMI ;D

  4. Fun! Thank you for the review and I'll be sure to stop by tomorrow for the *cough* interview and *cough* contest ;o)

  5. Great review! I'm not one for historical novels, but this one actually sounds quite interesting! Especially with the Devil's magic.

  6. Whoa ... royalty, bone magic and horses! Way cool!

  7. I actually like the writing style. History isn't boring if you write it in a story way.

  8. This book is in my favorite genre and on my TBR list a lot of people have raved about this book.

  9. IHM: It's a *cough* epidemic ;)

    Jo: Sandra's writing is excellent! When Louise performs the bone magic spell, it's pretty interesting.

    Llehn: Totally cool! :D

    Lalaland: I agree! Storybooks are so much better than a history textbook!

    Shannansbook: I hope you get to read this and enjoy it!


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