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CHARLATAN
     

CHARLATAN

4.0 1
by Kate Braithwaite
 

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HOW DO YOU KEEP THE LOVE OF THE KING OF FRANCE?

1676. In a hovel in the centre of Paris, the fortune-teller La Voisin holds a black mass, summoning the devil to help an unnamed client keep the love of the King of France, Louis XIV. Three years later, Athénaïs, Madame de Montespan, the King’s glamorous mistress, is nearly forty. She has borne

Overview

HOW DO YOU KEEP THE LOVE OF THE KING OF FRANCE?

1676. In a hovel in the centre of Paris, the fortune-teller La Voisin holds a black mass, summoning the devil to help an unnamed client keep the love of the King of France, Louis XIV. Three years later, Athénaïs, Madame de Montespan, the King’s glamorous mistress, is nearly forty. She has borne Louis seven children but now seethes with rage as he falls for eighteen-year-old Angélique de Fontanges. At the same time, police chief La Reynie and his young assistant Bezons have uncovered a network of fortune-tellers and poisoners operating in the city. Athénaïs does not know it, but she is about to be named as a favoured client of the infamous La Voisin.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I enjoyed it enormously...you brought The Affair flooding back to me with added excellent detail...It really is a remarkable achievement." ~Anne Somerset, author The Affair of the Poisons

"This book kept me reading into the night...luxury and squalor, royal scandal and sorcery...how could it not?" ~Fay Weldon, author The Life and Loves of a She-devil

"Reading Charlatan, you are sure to be both entranced and repulsed by Braithwaite's depictions of Machiavellian scheming, sorcery, and lust." -University of Toronto

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611793659
Publisher:
Fireship Press
Publication date:
09/15/2016
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
727,111
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.67(d)

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CHARLATAN 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
wordsandpeace More than 1 year ago
Brilliant evocation of a scandal that shook the court of Louis XIV. With witchcraft, love, jealousy, the French royals made it just as exciting as the Tudors, and Braithwaite makes you feel you were in their midst. A great new voice in historical fiction. If you enjoy historical fiction, you must have read zillions of books on the Tudors. But how much do you know about the French court? If you have not read anything about Louis XIV, you are highly encouraged to read Charlatan. This fascinating historical mystery focuses on the famous affair of the poisons, around 1679 in Paris and Versailles. The book opens in 1676 at a black mass organized by Catherine Montvoisin, aka La Voisin, a famous fortune-teller of very dubious reputation. The mass is celebrated with two priests, and in the presence of two women, the masked client and her maid. Then we jump three years later. With the active job of chief of police Nicholas La Reynie and his assistant Philippe, we are in the middle of a wave of arrests, hangings and burnings, of many people accused of sorcery. The prison is full to the brim. The description of the cells in chapter 3 is quite powerful. You can imagine yourself there and smell your surroundings. Arrests also mean torture (there’s a painful scene in chapter 21), during which the accused give many names, notably some members of the royal court of Louis XIV, for instance his famous mistress Madame Athénaïs de Montespan. Is she really involved? To what extense? A lot could be involved: witchcraft itself (and in these black masses, it seems the use of young infants blood was used), but also use of arsenic to get rid of enemies through poisoning, and more innocently the use of love filters. There would be some good reasons if we remember La Montespan is already 38, which is rather old for the time. The King is getting tired of her, at least in the bedroom, and is focusing on a much younger mistress, Angélique, merely 18. At the same time, the Church is urging him to remain more faithful to his wife the Queen. So using a little something to enhance the king’s libido would make sense. Getting rid of enemies as well. Plus we know that La Voisin placed one of her acolytes in Montespan’s household. Isn’t Montespan’s maid, Claudette des Oeillets, a friend of La Voisin’s herself? And let’s not forget Montespan’s own sister, Gabrielle, who can be quite the schemer. When La Reynie discovers the king’s mistress might be involved, he gets very cautious and tries to slow things down. But his young assistant is impatient to have the whole truth revealed. Getting close to Marie, La Voisin’s own daughter, also imprisoned, might be a way to know more… Even though I already read two books on La Montespan (The Shadow Queen and The Hurlyburly’s Husband), I thoroughly enjoyed Braithwaite’s historical mystery. I’m amazed at how much she got out of one single affair. And how she managed to keep the question of La Montespan’s guilt never completely resolved, leaving it to the reader to decide. On the basis of a mystery never totally made clear, the author created a very lively account, where you can see and smell things as if you were there. Her characters are so real, you can listen to them and perceive what they are thinking and plotting, either urged by jealousy or the mere desire to save their skin. The book is very well written, with some brilliant passages.
RoxyRae More than 1 year ago
Great read! By combining well developed characters and excellent historical details, Kate Braithwaite has created an exceptional retelling of a prominent point in French history. This novel about King Louis the XIV’s court is well written however, the arch in the story line is a bit weak. This is definitely a must read for those enthralled with the current trend of historical court politics and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am excited to read Braithwaite’s future work. I received this book for free from Fireship Press for an honest review.