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Mistress of the Sun: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As she did for Napoleon's wife (The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.), Gulland skillfully blends fact and fiction to imagine the life of Louise de la Vallière (1644–1710), mistress to Louis XIV, France's Sun King. Louise loses her father early and spends her childhood in a convent run by her aunt, Sister Angelique. When Louise's mother, Françoise, marries a marquis, she takes Louise home, where, by chance, she meets King Louis. As she secures a position at court about 100 pages in, the plot finally begins to bubble with intrigue: the king has married for political reasons, but, as a young and pious man, he has not kept a mistress before Louise. Their secret love eventually comes to light, but not without exacting a price. A supernatural element threaded throughout adds color to Gulland's vivid period imaginings. (June)
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From Booklist

In spirit, there was nothing diminutive about Louise de la Valliere, known to her family as “Petite.” A rambunctious girl who could tame the wildest stallion, the impoverished and unmarriageable Petite was also able to tame the heart of the legendary Sun King, Louis XIV. Once she had captured his eye, Petite was quickly ensconced in his court, where, as his mistress, she was elevated to a titled position. Such a meteoric rise was bound to attract attention of the wrong sort, and Petite’s life was filled with the terrors and tragedies that accompany all internecine tales of palace intrigue. Amid rumors of black magic and sorcery, loved ones would die, and Petite herself would ultimately arrive at a crossroads where she would be forced to choose between her loyalty to the king and her own personal salvation. Teeming with the rich period details that make historical fiction so rewarding, Gulland’s dynamic and nuanced portrait of Louis’ notorious reign thrums with page-turning expediency and deliciously seductive machinations. --Carol Haggas

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074329887X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743298872
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #603,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

I was born in Miami, Florida, in 1944, and lived in Rio de Janeiro, Berkeley and Chicago before immigrating to Canada in 1970 to teach in an Inuit village in northern Labrador for one year.

Settling in Toronto, I worked as a book editor for a decade before moving with my husband and two children to a log house in northern Ontario. Juggling children, a dog, three cats, pigs, chickens and a succession of horses, I worked as a freelance editor for five years before committing to writing full-time in 1985.

Ten years later, the first of the novels in the JOSEPHINE B. TRILOGY was published. (The trilogy is now published in 15 countries and in 13 languages.) MISTRESS OF THE SUN, my 4th novel, was published in 2008 (and is now in 8 languages). THE SHADOW QUEEN will be published in the spring of 2013.

I am now writing a young adult novel about Hortense, Josephine Bonaparte's daughter (and Napoleon's step-daughter).

Our children grown, my husband and I now live half the year in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and half in Ontario.

For more information, please see my website at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In truth I thought never to see another novel by Sandra Gulland after her Josephine B. trilogy, because it was such a spectacular achievement both in writing and research (down to the footnotes which explained every little fact.)Since there was such a large publishing gap I had thought it was to be a life's achievement worthy of any great author. I was wrong.

"Mistress of the Sun", Gulland's new novel, is quite simply a work of literary brilliance. A novel filled with light. Centered on the life of Louise de Valliere, who arose from the lowest ranks of the country aristocracy to become the mistress of the Sun king, Louis XIV.

It is clear from the first chapter, when Louise (nicknamed Petite) at six years old tames a wild horse no one else can come near to her will that she is more than an ordinary girl. Precocious, graceful as a sawn and full of love and light she enchants her family. But the horse causes the death of her father it leaves her without speech or desire for anything and she sent into the care of a nunnery. However, because of her mothers second marriage Louise is denied the religious life she believes she wants and becomes instead a lady in waiting to the duc d'Orleans eldest daughter, who is believed to be the young king's intended. When plans for the marriage fall through and the duc dies; Louise does the rebuffed bride to be a service for which she is recommend for service in the palace to Henrietta, sister of the English king Charles II and wife to the new duc d'Orleans, the French king's brother.

It is here, in the glittering court were she will meet the King, a man she much admires but can never learn to reconcile with Louis, who she loves. Or their desire and passion with her religion.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It seems that tales about royal mistresses never seem to grow stale, at least in our world's literary market. In the few last years I've seen several books on such women as Nell Gwynn and Barbara Castlemaine, both mistresses of Charles II of England, the various mistresses of Louis XIV of France, and women in renaissance Italy.

Author Sandra Gulland has turned to one of the lesser known mistresses of Louis XIV, known as the Sun King, the monarch who created the palace of Versailles, and put his stamp on a place and time so vividly that no one ever really equalled him. His first official mistress was a young woman by the name of Louise de la Valliere, who is usually overlooked in favour of the king's far more flamboyant mistress, Athenais de Montespan.

When the novel opens, Louise -- known as Petite for her small stuature -- is a half-wild child on her family's small manor. She is particularly in tune with nature, and adores horses. Her father understands and indulges her, but her mother is determined to turn her into a fashionable -- and marriageable -- young lady. But Petite would much rather go and be outside, or be reading her father's collection of prized books.

The turning point comes when she at a horse fair with her father, and she sees not just skills of horsemanship, but a magnificent white stallion, unbroken and wild. Termed Diablo -- the Devil -- he allows no one near, but Petite is enchanted by him. She pleads with her father to buy the horse, and he relunctantly agrees. So begins Petite's foray into the world of adulthood, a rather rocky, and at times, unpleasant one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Maes on January 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Louise's story comes alive in this masterful novel by Sandra Gulland. What is fascinating about Sandra Gulland is that she goes to great lengths to include historical accuracy. From wearing period correct clothing, to spending a few weeks in a completely silent convent!

But what adds to all of this is the passion and detail she places into her characters. It is difficult not to experience everything Louise de La Valliere goes through as the mistress to Louis XIV. This is by far the finest historical novel I have come across!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 22, 2009
Format: Paperback
A book on love, spirituality, mysticism, power and courage lived by Louise de Lavallière, known as, Petite, during an important chapter in Louis XIV's life; A great Love...

Right from the beginning, I immediately felt tenderness for the six-year old Petite; this child whose heart and mind races as quickly as the stallions she already knows how to tame and ride. Her passion for horses leads her to push the ways of the dark side in order to tame her `beloved' and wild, white stallion -Diablo. She truly believes this pact with the devil is what brings forth the inevitable course of her life.

It is purely by chance, that her fate leads her to meet the Sun King. In the fields that day, when she speaks to the tall, vibrant young man dressed in hunting gear... she doesn't realize who he really is. Later, while on duty, attending a young Princess at court, Petite sees the King. She recognizes him! King Louis spots her as well; she looks familiar...

Then, during a disastrous rain storm, fate brings them together once more. From that fleeting moment of tenderness, follows a strong resistance. Due to her virtuous morals, unwavering faith, regard and respect for the Queen, Petite renounces every attempt to succumb to the King. Alas, they are young, filled with passion and an irresistible longing to be together. Couple this with their common love of horses, hunting and riding, as well as, great friendship and interest in eachother- there is no escaping this powerful force... Petite surrenders. They are meant to live this love.

However, loving Louis and loving the King are two different things. Can Petite accept one without the other? The ways of Royalty are not all that glitters. There is much pain and sorrow.
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