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The Shadow Queen: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Sandra Gulland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set.  From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned. 

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant. 

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed. 

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk. 

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.



Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Shadow Queen is an epic feast for the senses with a cast of characters that includes Moliere, Racine, and the Sun King himself, Louis XIV.  With this exhilarating exploration of the years of Louis's reign, full of exquisite details and memorable characters, Sandra Gulland proves herself a master of not only storytelling but stagecraft and illusion, as well." 
--Melanie Benjamin, New York Times Bestselling author of THE AVIATOR'S WIFE
 
"Fascinating and rich in historical detail, The Shadow Queen brings Claudette des Oeillets to full and vivid life as she makes the journey from hungry, roaming player to indispensable attendant of Louis XIV's mistress.  A captivating glimpse into the theatre, court life and black arts of 17th Century Paris."
--Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times Bestselling author of THE PAINTED GIRLS
 
"Sandra Gulland's latest will remind readers why they fall in love with the past. Gulland uses her meticulous research with consummate skill, rendering vivid the luxury and squalor of Louis XIV's France and breathing life into fully formed characters that tug at the heart. Masterful."
--Tasha Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author of DEATH IN THE FLOATING CITY
 
"Propelled by Sandra Gulland's brilliant storytelling and her unerring gift for reviving an historical era through dramatic scenes,  The Shadow Queen is told through a fascinating perspective -- that of the personal attendant and closest confidante of Louis XIV's all-powerful mistress.  The story straddles two worlds -- the competitive arena of 17th century French theater and the opulent yet treacherous court of the Sun King.  The characters are magnetic and the pace will dazzle you."
--Adrienne McDonnell, author of THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA
 
"A must-read for anyone passionate about the theater and hungry for more of Sandra Gulland's masterful depictions of life at the court of the Sun King."
-- Anne Easter Smith, author of A ROSE FOR THE CROWN
 
"A quick-paced, captivating tale of 17th Century France--from the dramas and destitutions of life in the theatre, to the intrigues and ruthlessness of the royal court--and of the wrenching conflict between familial bonds and the sacrifices a young woman must make to survive and thrive. Through the trials and hard-earned triumphs of quick-witted Claudette, maid and confidante of aristocratic, alluring Athénaïs,  Gulland shapes a world rich in historical detail and timeless in its exploration of divided loyalties, power struggles, and the consequences of remaining true to heartfelt ideals."
- Ania Szado, author of STUDIO OF SAINT-EX
 
"Sandra Gulland is one of our most gifted historical novelists and once again, she does not disappoint. This vividly drawn tale of a young woman caught up in the dark intrigues of the beautiful, lethal mistress of the Sun King has all the ingredients readers love, blending passion, adventure, pageantry and danger into a heady brew as intoxicating as it is unforgettable."
--C.W. Gortner, author of THE QUEEN'S VOW
 
"Sandra Gulland is at the top of her game in The Shadow Queen and that's saying a lot! From the first page you know you are in the hands of a master story teller. I just don't think anyone does it better than Gulland - this book is lyrical, fascinating and seeped in history, drama and emotion. Truly magnificent and an absolute joy to read."
--M.J. Rose, International Bestselling author of THE BOOK OF LOST FRAGRANCES

About the Author

SANDRA GULLANDis the author of the Canadian bestsellerMistress of the Sunas well as the Josephine B. Trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies in seventeen languages worldwide.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1486 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345805607
  • Publisher: Anchor (April 8, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00FUZQY7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,780 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Shadow Side of the Sun Court April 8, 2014
Format:Hardcover
I adore Sandra Gulland's novels, so I was excited to learn she was writing a companion piece to MISTRESS OF THE SUN. MISTRESS OF THE SUN centered on Louise de Valliere, one of the first mistresses of Sun King Louis XIV; THE SHADOW QUEEN offers a darker counterpoint to the earlier novel, presenting an alternate view of Louis's reign through the outsider perspective of Claude de Vin des Oeillets. Claude is a desperately poor teenaged actress when she first encounters the aristocratic young woman who would grow up to become Athénaïs, the dangerously powerful mistress—or "shadow queen"—of Louis XIV. As the years pass, Claude's almost romantic obsession with Athénaïs brings her into the realm of the Sun King himself, for better and worse. THE SHADOW QUEEN moves adroitly from the stages of the "war of the theatres" to the grand stage of the Sun Court, where life is as filled with artifice as a play. As always, Gulland's top notch research and lush writing offer a richly immersive experience into the shadow side of seventeenth century France. Highly recommended.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and satisfying April 8, 2014
By Ann Mah
Format:Hardcover
As an ardent Francophile, I loved this story about Claude des Oeillets, actress, daughter, maid, and pawn in the court of the Sun King. The theater scenes were particularly fascinating. A rich and satisfying read.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! April 8, 2014
Format:Hardcover
Fascinating and rich in historical detail, The Shadow Queen brings Claude des Oeillets to full and vivid life as she makes the journey from hungry, roaming player to indispensable attendant of Louis XIV's mistress. A captivating glimpse into the theatre, court life and black arts of 17th C Paris.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep look April 10, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This angle on the seventeenth century France broadened my perspective of the era. Being immersed in this unknown (to me) perspective of Claude swept me in--and Gulland's writing is like being immersed in tapestry.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
First of all, forget the title.

Yes, market research probably has shown that throwing "queen" (or "princess" or "mistress" along with "king") in a title makes us more likely to grab it. This isn't really about a queen. It's not even about the shadow queen of the title, Louis XIV's 'maitresse en titre', Athenais de Montespan. Rather, it's a worm's eye view of the world of the Sun King, told through the eyes of someone I had never heard of but who was -- to my astonishment -- a real character: Claude des Oeillets, who started her life following her parents through the French countryside as they scraped a living as traveling players amidst the chaos of a France torn by civil war and religious schism.

It's in those years, Gulland imagines, that the young Claudette's path first crosses that of the young Athenais, future Marquise and future King's mistress, but already arrogant and privileged. Claudette can only dream of such a life, even in later years when she, her widowed mother and mentally challenged brother are back in Paris and finally establishing themselves in the mainstream theater, the world that Corneille still rules but where Moliere is emerging as a challenger and that the upstart Racine is threatening to unsettle. Gulland paints a riveting portrait of the war of the theaters, and the battle between the church and the theaters, and I simply couldn't put the book down. The final third, by contast, when Claudette has become an "extra" at the King's court in the entourage of Athenais, felt less intriguing to me and more like "more of the same" kind of stuff that pops up in every other historical novel I pick up these days: neophyte goes to court; has innocence shocked; finds way to cope; etc etc.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Side of 17th century April 10, 2014
Format:Hardcover
"The Shadow Queen" takes as its focal point the story of young Claudette, a relatively unknown but actual personage whose career in the tumultuous world of the theater mirrors the rise of the king's rapacious mistress, Athenais. Sandra Gulland is one of our most gifted historical novelists, whose previous novel, "Mistress of the Sun" was one of my all-time favorites. In this vividly drawn tale, she steps back from a consuming focus on court life to show us a different side of the 17th-century world she knows so well, as seen through the eyes of a young woman whose ambitions sweep her up into the intrigues of both her own milieu, and eventually those of Athenais. This beautifully written novel succeeds magnificently. Though the title speaks to Athenais, it also evokes the fate of many women of the time who aspired to celebrity.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite April 10, 2014
Format:Hardcover
I was fortunate enough to be able to peek at an advance copy of this novel, and it's exquisite. Truly.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So intrigued April 10, 2014
Format:Hardcover
The rich historical detail thoroughly pulled me into the 17th century French court, something I knew little about. A perfect example of a good transporting & educational read, and made me wish I read it as part of a book club.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Ok
I didn't even read it all the way through. I lost interest. I found it to be rather simple and boring.
Published 4 days ago by Elizabeth Ernst
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, highly recommended. Thoroughly enjoyed!
From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Tonya Speelman
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not the best, having trouble wanting to finish it.
Published 15 days ago by p.a.bowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally Descriptive
I understand historical fictions are about historically important people, even the books about their relatives and mistresses are understandable, but a book about the confidant of... Read more
Published 29 days ago by karsiyaka
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This book was a page turner! I enjoyed the historical accuracy and attention to detail. All of the author's books delve into French history, making the story rich.
Published 2 months ago by Carlotta J Martinez
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not really
Published 3 months ago by Sharon L Prapopulos
4.0 out of 5 stars Servant's life more interesting than the courtesans'?
Hmm, how to explain my rating. The book was excellent so far as showing the lives of "players" (actors) in seventeenth century France. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Fozzetti
4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical page turner!
I found The Shadow Queen an appealing and entertaining change from what I expected. Historical fiction is either really amazing or really dull for me. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kristen @ Pretty Little Pages
4.0 out of 5 stars Exposes brutal rivalries both at the Court of Louis XIV and in...
I'm a big fan of Sandra Guilland -- loved her three novel series about Josephine Bonaparte! This was also a quick and very interesting read where I learned more about 17th century... Read more
Published 5 months ago by HalKid2
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading
This is an interesting take on Parisian nobility, which you realize from the outset of the book when the main character is not a well-to-do child, but a young performer, traveling... Read more
Published 5 months ago by MElise
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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 http://www.sandragulland.com.

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