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The Shadow Queen Paperback – January 6, 2015


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Truly magnificent and a joy to read. . . . You are in the hands of a master storyteller.” —M.J. Rose, international bestselling author of The Book of Lost Fragrances

“A remarkably different and very interesting historical read.” —The Free Lance-Star

“Vivid. . . . A captivating glimpse into the theater, Court life, and black arts of seventeenth-century Paris.” —Cathy Marie Buchanan, New York Times bestselling author of The Painted Girls

“An epic feast for the senses. . . . 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

“Will remind readers why they fall in love with the past. Gulland uses her meticulous research with consummate skill. . . . Masterful.” —Tasha Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of Death in the Floating City

About the Author

SANDRA GULLAND is the author of Mistress of the Sun and the Josephine B. Trilogy, which have collectively sold well over a million copies worldwide.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (January 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345805607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345805607
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Kris Waldherr on 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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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Cathy Buchanan on 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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ann Mah on April 8, 2014
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Voracious Reader on 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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 8, 2014
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 By C. W. Gortner VINE VOICE on 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 By Constance Goodwin on 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 By BostonWriter on 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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