Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour

by Nancy Mitford, Amanda Foreman

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When Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of Louis XV, no one expected her to retain his affections for long. A member of the bourgeoisie rather than an aristocrat, she was physically too cold for the carnal Bourbon king, and had so many enemies that she could not travel publicly without risking a pelting of mud and stones. History has loved her little better. Nancy Mitford’s delightfully candid biography re-creates the spirit of eighteenth-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery. We learn that the Queen was a “bore,” the Dauphin a “prig,” and see France increasingly overcome with class conflict. With a fiction writer’s felicity, Mitford restores the royal mistress and celebrates her as a survivor, unsurpassed in “the art of living,” who reigned as the most powerful woman in France for nearly twenty years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590175309
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 05/09/2012
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 703,939
File size: 491 KB

About the Author

Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) was born into the British aristocracy and, by her own account, brought up without an education, except in riding and French. She managed a London bookshop during the Second World War, then moved to Paris, where she began to write her celebrated and successful novels, among them The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, about the foibles of the English upper class. Mitford was also the author of four biographies: Madame de Pompadour (1954), Voltaire in Love (1957), The Sun King (1966), and Frederick the Great (1970)—all available as NYRB classics. In 1967 Mitford moved from Paris to Versailles, where she lived until her death from Hodgkin’s disease.

Amanda Foreman was born in London in 1968 and educated at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia University, and Oxford University, where she received a Ph.D. in history. She is the author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and A World on Fire; her new study, The World Made by Women: A History of Womankind from the Age of Cleopatra to the Era of Hillary Clinton, is forthcoming in 2016.

Table of Contents

1Versailles and Louis XV3
2Paris and Madame d'Etioles19
3The Ball of the Clipped Yew Trees36
5Presentation at Court60
7The Staircase82
9Royal Family and Poisson Family108
11Friends and Table Talk139
12Tastes and Interests156
13From Love to Friendship168
14The Affaire Choiseul-Romanet180
15Politics at Home188
16Politics Abroad205
18The Seven Years' War233
20The End of a Dream264

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Madame de Pompadour 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I looked forward to reading this book with great interest. Not only was I interested in the subject, but the author as well. I found the book to be extremely intelligent, insightful, witty and sympathetic to the subject and her circumstances. I have read many books on on this and related subjects, and there is something particularly charming and graceful about this book. It is,consequently,one of my favorites on this subject.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I can agree with the publisher's view that no 'historian writing in English' can give a better 'pen-picture of Versailles', this statement must be referring to Ms. Mitford's study of Louis XIV in her 'The Sun King'. No way does her Madame de Pompadour compare. It was very disappointing and my interest was lost quite quickly. Except for naming every name under the sun that ever had anything to do with Madame, there isn't substance. Madame's personality is not clearly defined, the descriptions of her relationship with Louis XV makes me wonder why he ever bothered with her, and there was no sense of the grandeur of Versailles and the court life at all. For a truly excellent read on that time period, PLEASE enjoy 'The Sun King'.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a good balance between the world of treasure in which she lived, the rules she had to live by, and the life she made for herself.
shalulah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because I have a weakness for all things Mitford, but it proved to be a delightful read. A biography I really couldn't put down, though sometimes Nancy's non-linear approach had me flipping back chapters to remember where she left off with certain characters who disappeared & reappeared throughout the story.
canalrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nancy Mitford at her best with a sparkling portrayal of court life. As a biography it's famously, delightfully biased, referring to various personages as "feather-brained" or "dull". But excusing MdP of ll wrongdoing.
desiree85 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was so eloquantly written, that you couldn't help fall in love with French history. It is easy to get dull and boring when writing about the past - especially when writing about wars, famine, revolutionaries, kings, treaties and the like - however, Mitford brings the characters to life and provides enough gossip to keep the book enjoyable to read.
hellbent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining history of French mistress.
Imprinted on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is one of the liveliest and wittiest biographies ever written. How could anyone resist such an evocative opening line, "After the death of the great King, beautiful Versailles, fatal for France, lay empty seven years while fresh air blew through its golden rooms, blowing away the sorcery and bigotry which hung about the walls like a miasma, blowing away the old century and blowing in the new."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago