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When kings marry foreign strangers for dynastic or financial reasons and queens are trained in piety over sensuality, royal mistresses seem an inevitability. Kings had flings and extramarital relationships through much of European history, and in her first book, Herman offers, with relish and dry wit, a delightful overview of their sexual escapades. Her subjects are international, though France dominates and England gets a strong showing. It's a lively account, organized by topic e.g., "The Fruits of Sin—Royal Bastards." Herman weaves into a larger pattern the tales of recurrent figures, such as Louis XIV's mistress Athénaïs de Montespan and Madame de Pompadour, who is perhaps more famous than her royal lover, Louis XV. Fashions, love potions and cheerful conversation kept kings enthralled while mistresses made themselves wealthy, husbands acquiesced or simmered, courtiers wooed the mistresses and the public admired or ridiculed. A striking number of these relationships continued despite arguments and even the lack of sex. George II even felt it necessary to keep a mistress for his reputation despite actually loving his wife. Herman ends on a modern note, recounting how Camilla Parker-Bowles famously introduced herself to Prince Charles by noting that her great-grandmother had been his great-great-grandfather's mistress. Herman ends on a serious note, but her wit and perceptiveness will carry readers through this royally pleasurable romp.
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Certainly a catchy title. And Herman's spirited history of royal "mistresshood" is certainly a catchy read. Her book is not a collective biography of mistresses of European kings through the ages, although she does pay relatively brief but nevertheless trenchant visits to famous ones and some not so famous. No, her book is more an accounting of the "art and science" of being a royal mistress, ranging in time from the "departing mists" of medieval Europe (before which "royal sin" was kept from public knowledge) to the present day (namely, Prince Charles' girlfriend, Camilla Parker-Bowles). Her treatment is a royal-mistresses-for-dummies look at male monarchs having sex on the side. She establishes a basic chronological history of the institution and assigns it a set of general characteristics (for instance, the paramour is "never to be tired, ill, complaining, or grief-stricken"). The author explains what mistresses got out of their relationships, and she looks into the issue of how mistresses traditionally got along (or didn't) with queen wives. History made as buoyant as fiction. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you enjoy a bit of history, you must read this book!!Published 3 months ago by Kelli Lynne Jones
Boom had hole/dent in back. More than just "wear and tear" as advertised.Published 4 months ago by JCP19
The Author keeps repeating the same material over and over under different headings - not much information spread too thinnPublished 5 months ago by Barry R. Parnell
What was written was interesting but very repetitive. Also found stories hard to follow as the narrative slipped back and forth in time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carla Jost