Title: Madame de Pompadour: A Life
Author: Evelyne Lever
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 2003 (2000)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography
Source: Xmas Gift
"In this biography, French historian Evelyne Lever chronicles the extraordinary life of the most famous and influential mistress of Louis XV: Jeanne-Antoinette de Pompadour. This seductive, astute and resilient woman was destined to be both adored and reviled by the Court and the French public because of her relationship with one of the most powerful men in Europe, yet she was also to wield enormous influence on the culture, politics and military future of France, with an authority that far exceeded any previously exerted by an official mistress." The incredible story of how a bourgeois girl of questionable parentage would rise to the highest ranks of French society, consolidate her position at Court and maintain a twenty-year relationship with Louis XV begins with a fortune-teller's prophecy that one day the young Jeanne-Antoinette would be the mistress of a King. In spite of the difficulties presented by her background, by the age of twenty-four the beautiful Jeanne-Antoinette had indeed become the favorite of the monarch. The implications - both personal and political - of their relationship were far-reaching, and Lever skillfully illustrates how Madame de Pompadour gradually played the role not only of official mistress but also of France's second queen. (Goodreads Review)
Madame de Pompadour has long been one of the historical figures that most interest me so I was looking forward to reading this biography of her life.
Overall, I found it to be an entertaining read. I had known of her many talents and her support of the arts, but I had not realised until reading this book how disliked she was. I'd anticipated she would have had her detractors at court, but I was intrigued to learn how much the public hated her too.
A couple of the later chapters regarding the wars etc were a little dry, but other than that this was a vibrant and well-presented biography that has clearly been well-researched and lovingly put together.
A great read for history fans looking to learn more about Madame de Pompadour or the lives of royal mistresses in general.