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This biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV offers dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world's stage. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent several transformations before she caught the heart of the king himself. Although accu This biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV offers dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world's stage. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent several transformations before she caught the heart of the king himself. Although accustomed to the king's extramarital relationships, the court was shocked at the sudden ascension of the low-born Mademoiselle Poisson. The newcomer, however, wasted no time in establishing herself as the king's sole confidante and, ultimately, his indispensable partner in affairs of state. The critically acclaimed author of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, Christine Pevitt Algrant traces Madame de Pompadour from her modest beginnings in early-eighteenth-century Paris to her reign as the undisputed mistress of Versailles. Filled with photographs, and evocative and insightful in its telling, Madame de Pompadour is a seductive portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the age.


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This biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV offers dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world's stage. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent several transformations before she caught the heart of the king himself. Although accu This biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV offers dramatic insight into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful, and feared women to grace the world's stage. Groomed from an early age to assume the role of a rich man's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson underwent several transformations before she caught the heart of the king himself. Although accustomed to the king's extramarital relationships, the court was shocked at the sudden ascension of the low-born Mademoiselle Poisson. The newcomer, however, wasted no time in establishing herself as the king's sole confidante and, ultimately, his indispensable partner in affairs of state. The critically acclaimed author of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, Christine Pevitt Algrant traces Madame de Pompadour from her modest beginnings in early-eighteenth-century Paris to her reign as the undisputed mistress of Versailles. Filled with photographs, and evocative and insightful in its telling, Madame de Pompadour is a seductive portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the age.

30 review for Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France

  1. 5 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    I was intrigued by the strong-willed, highly intelligent Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who ep "Girl in the Fireplace." After reading this biography, I can see that the episode got two details right: she was nicknamed Reinette as a child, and upon her death (at age 42!) her lover King Louis XV watched the carriage bearing away her body in the rain from a balcony. Unfortunately, her character was a bit less impressive in reality than in fiction, at least according to Algrant. She was beautiful I was intrigued by the strong-willed, highly intelligent Madame de Pompadour in the Doctor Who ep "Girl in the Fireplace." After reading this biography, I can see that the episode got two details right: she was nicknamed Reinette as a child, and upon her death (at age 42!) her lover King Louis XV watched the carriage bearing away her body in the rain from a balcony. Unfortunately, her character was a bit less impressive in reality than in fiction, at least according to Algrant. She was beautiful, poised, and magnificently self-possessed, with a gift for social manipulation. But her letters make it clear that she demanded adoration from all. As Algrant says, "...she measured everyone in relation to their devotion to her, their loyalty, their sense of obligation. Men and women had to profess their love for her, and only her, and then she would be generous and indulgent...She believed she acted for the good of the state. But in reality, she was unable to rise above games of intrigue and struggles for power." She promoted those who flattered her and destroyed those who did not--all regardless of merit. This tendency, which echoed that of France's other powerbrokers, was to the extreme detriment to France itself. The king was uninvolved in matters of state, the councils and parlements all busy fighting amongst themselves. The Seven Years War was incredibly mismanaged: generals were continually coming and going, according to the whims of Versailles with no accounting for actual martial ability or experience; meanwhile, the army had run out of money while the king persisted in sumptuous building projects. In the end, the war ended to the shame of France and Pompadour died of TB, her reputation slandered throughout Paris.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Caidyn (he/him/his)

    The book started off good, but it quickly waned. I think my biggest issue was that it didn't focus that much on Madame de Pompadour. It spent a lot of time focusing on what the men were doing rather than what she was doing. Perhaps there's not a lot recorded about what she was doing. Perhaps the author just didn't go for that. Either way, it was a let-down. I'll have to keep my eye out for another book about her! The book started off good, but it quickly waned. I think my biggest issue was that it didn't focus that much on Madame de Pompadour. It spent a lot of time focusing on what the men were doing rather than what she was doing. Perhaps there's not a lot recorded about what she was doing. Perhaps the author just didn't go for that. Either way, it was a let-down. I'll have to keep my eye out for another book about her!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    A well-written biography on one of history's most famous mistresses. I got interested in Madame de Pompadour after reading Voltaire's dedication to her in Zadig, and Algrant's book paints a well-rounded picture of Louis XV's companion and adviser for twenty years. The last fourth of the book gets a little bogged down in constant battles, broken treaties, promotions, demotions, and the poisonous atmosphere of the French court, but that really is more history's fault than Algrant's. The story of t A well-written biography on one of history's most famous mistresses. I got interested in Madame de Pompadour after reading Voltaire's dedication to her in Zadig, and Algrant's book paints a well-rounded picture of Louis XV's companion and adviser for twenty years. The last fourth of the book gets a little bogged down in constant battles, broken treaties, promotions, demotions, and the poisonous atmosphere of the French court, but that really is more history's fault than Algrant's. The story of this ambitious and powerful woman and her insular, moody and distracted king leaves no question that the French Revolution is right around the corner.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    It's an entertaining look at one of the more notorious mistresses in French history, Louis XV's longtime flame, Madame de Pompadour. But it's not nearly as good as Nancy Mitford's biography. Still, the colour plates are pretty, and there are a few insights. Just not enough of them. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_76427... It's an entertaining look at one of the more notorious mistresses in French history, Louis XV's longtime flame, Madame de Pompadour. But it's not nearly as good as Nancy Mitford's biography. Still, the colour plates are pretty, and there are a few insights. Just not enough of them. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/content_76427...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily Ross

    This was a well written biography of Madame de Pompadour, well researched and written with a clear and flowing script. However, I don't feel that it was as good as Nancy Mitford's biography. This was a well written biography of Madame de Pompadour, well researched and written with a clear and flowing script. However, I don't feel that it was as good as Nancy Mitford's biography.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Heath-Caldwell

    Detailed good review of the life of Madame de Pompadour in France in the mid 1700s, the impact she had on the French history and government of the time, and why Louis 15 didn't much go down in history, unlike No. 14 and No.16 who hit the headlines. This was due to Louis 15 leaving most of the administration of the government up to Pompadour, who was reasonably capable and talented at running the show in Paris. Pevitt's book gives an interesting insight into the completely bizarre way the governm Detailed good review of the life of Madame de Pompadour in France in the mid 1700s, the impact she had on the French history and government of the time, and why Louis 15 didn't much go down in history, unlike No. 14 and No.16 who hit the headlines. This was due to Louis 15 leaving most of the administration of the government up to Pompadour, who was reasonably capable and talented at running the show in Paris. Pevitt's book gives an interesting insight into the completely bizarre way the government was run, often from Pompadour's 'Toilette" sessions, and shows the crazy formality of the court at Versailles as instigated by Louis 14 which 15 and 16 perpetuated, even as they tried to escape from it, while totally ignoring the ticking time bomb in the Paris slums.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    She was more than just a mistress. She ran France for over twenty years and influenced many cultural and political events in the country. Pompadour was the de facto Queen of France; she even held more power than Queen's did at this time. Many people assume that women had no influence or power for centuries. This was not the case for women of middle or aristocratic birth. Madame de Pompadour was such an exception. She was a formidable character in her time and this has cemented her mark in histor She was more than just a mistress. She ran France for over twenty years and influenced many cultural and political events in the country. Pompadour was the de facto Queen of France; she even held more power than Queen's did at this time. Many people assume that women had no influence or power for centuries. This was not the case for women of middle or aristocratic birth. Madame de Pompadour was such an exception. She was a formidable character in her time and this has cemented her mark in history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    It took me a good long while to read this, but that was because it was one I kept reading and then coming back. It was a little hard going, but I think that's possibly due to my reading historic works so very little. Very interesting to get a bit of background in the run up to Marie Antoinette's time, but it has given me a new appreciation for Madame de Pompadour herself. Despite her being alive in the 18th century I still cried when she died. It took me a good long while to read this, but that was because it was one I kept reading and then coming back. It was a little hard going, but I think that's possibly due to my reading historic works so very little. Very interesting to get a bit of background in the run up to Marie Antoinette's time, but it has given me a new appreciation for Madame de Pompadour herself. Despite her being alive in the 18th century I still cried when she died.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Penny

    It was an interesting journey to one of the powerful courts of Europe with all its sophistication. I liked the plot and the characters, but I needed to know more details about each of them. I enjoyed Pevitt's approach to the whole story. I would recommend it to my students and the public. It was an interesting journey to one of the powerful courts of Europe with all its sophistication. I liked the plot and the characters, but I needed to know more details about each of them. I enjoyed Pevitt's approach to the whole story. I would recommend it to my students and the public.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Miller

    Fascinating story of both Pompadour and Louis XV.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    A pleasant read delivering an entertaining overview of Ms Poisson. The most interesting bits, however, were on wider French politics and diplomacy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    this book fills in many gaps in my knowledge of the woman,who later gave her name to a hair style,a good well research and written book,good history.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michele Clarke

    Good read, although more about politics than scandals of mistresses.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Yuri

    I love this book. I’ve read multiple books on Madame de Pompadour and this is definitely one of my favorites. 🥰

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susanna

    A lovely biography of a fascinating woman. Like another reviewer, I was also intrigued by Madame de Pompadour after seeing her in an episode of Dr Who. She was a strong-willed woman who managed to hang on to her title and power even after her (physical) affair with the king ended! (I don't think the Dr Who episode got much right about her, except her strength of character, her nickname as child and her departure from Versailles) One fact I found very interesting was that only members of the royal A lovely biography of a fascinating woman. Like another reviewer, I was also intrigued by Madame de Pompadour after seeing her in an episode of Dr Who. She was a strong-willed woman who managed to hang on to her title and power even after her (physical) affair with the king ended! (I don't think the Dr Who episode got much right about her, except her strength of character, her nickname as child and her departure from Versailles) One fact I found very interesting was that only members of the royal family were allowed to die at Versailles. Louis refused to let Madame de Pompadour be moved though (despite her wishes!), so she died there and was removed (in some secret) after her death. King Louis is also a fascinating character (especially his desire for his various mistresses and kept women and his refusal to take communion, even though he desperately wanted to); I'd love to know more about him...perhaps I'll look up biographies of him next...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    A biography of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of France. Pompadour was a fascinating woman and that only partially comes out in this routine biography. I wanted to find out the facts behind Reinette ("little queen"), the woman so enchantingly portrayed by Sophia Myles during the David Tennant years of Dr Who. Though many of her accomplishments are dutifully outlined, it felt as though the author didn't really think much of her subject. Granted, Pompadour A biography of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of France. Pompadour was a fascinating woman and that only partially comes out in this routine biography. I wanted to find out the facts behind Reinette ("little queen"), the woman so enchantingly portrayed by Sophia Myles during the David Tennant years of Dr Who. Though many of her accomplishments are dutifully outlined, it felt as though the author didn't really think much of her subject. Granted, Pompadour and Louis XV virtually bankrupted France with their interminble building projects, and dragged their country through war after war. But I found much to admire about Madame de Pompadour, as an educated woman and survivor. She was bred by her family to become the king's mistress and became the de facto ruler of France. I'm still interested by this subject and so will hunt around for a more simpathetic portrayal of Jeanne-Antoinette.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sy Ferrari

    A well-done biography of a character that is offen hide on the main line of Frech History. Madame de Pompadour is based on all the mail of the period Luis XV' kindom, and its shows importants aspect of the way the decisions where taken (as the Treaty of Versailles - the first one). Was on the Luis XV' kindom that the illuminist came to light, and the proximity of then o the main characater is deliteful. A well-done biography of a character that is offen hide on the main line of Frech History. Madame de Pompadour is based on all the mail of the period Luis XV' kindom, and its shows importants aspect of the way the decisions where taken (as the Treaty of Versailles - the first one). Was on the Luis XV' kindom that the illuminist came to light, and the proximity of then o the main characater is deliteful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    A highly readable biography, full of interesting facts and anecdotes. You can actually visualize all the French court intrigue and gossip surrounding this highly controversial mistress to Louis XV. The author handles the multitude of political machinations very well, but sometimes I felt there was just a bit too much emphasis on that (difficult to leave it out though, because of the subject matter!)

  19. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Can anyone recommend a good biography of Louis XV? I liked Nancy Mitford's take on Pompadour and Louis, but this one is a cold wind from the heart, so to speak. They both emerge as people you wouldn't want to know, and in Louis' case, supremely boring. At one point an early reader of Mitford's manuscript told her that she must stop referring to Louis as "perfect heaven" on every other page; well, Algrant's book is the corrective for THAT. Can anyone recommend a good biography of Louis XV? I liked Nancy Mitford's take on Pompadour and Louis, but this one is a cold wind from the heart, so to speak. They both emerge as people you wouldn't want to know, and in Louis' case, supremely boring. At one point an early reader of Mitford's manuscript told her that she must stop referring to Louis as "perfect heaven" on every other page; well, Algrant's book is the corrective for THAT.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Haslam

    It's taken me well over a year to finish this book, after I picked it up on the back of 'The Girl In The Fireplace' episode of Dr Who. I could barely read more than a couple of chapters at a time, and ended it putting it aside for many months while other books and life in general took over. For anyone interested in history and factual reads, this will no doubt be quite enthralling, but for me, it was far too long and I'm glad to finally be done with it. It's taken me well over a year to finish this book, after I picked it up on the back of 'The Girl In The Fireplace' episode of Dr Who. I could barely read more than a couple of chapters at a time, and ended it putting it aside for many months while other books and life in general took over. For anyone interested in history and factual reads, this will no doubt be quite enthralling, but for me, it was far too long and I'm glad to finally be done with it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This... took me four or five years to slug through. Honestly not entirely sure *why*. The writing isn't dry, as such - in fact, it goes through the 42 years of Madame de Pompadour's life at a fairly quick pace. Maybe that was it: there were too much names and dates and not enough of Madame de P's personality herself. She never really sparked my interest. Worth a read if you're interested in this time period, but otherwise I'd skip it. This... took me four or five years to slug through. Honestly not entirely sure *why*. The writing isn't dry, as such - in fact, it goes through the 42 years of Madame de Pompadour's life at a fairly quick pace. Maybe that was it: there were too much names and dates and not enough of Madame de P's personality herself. She never really sparked my interest. Worth a read if you're interested in this time period, but otherwise I'd skip it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Hodiak

    I don't normally read french historical fiction but this was interesting. Madame de pampadour was a strong and secure women in a world where women are second class, even as queen. but she never tried to be more than what she was, which was a beautiful and intelligent lover and later friend to a king. I don't normally read french historical fiction but this was interesting. Madame de pampadour was a strong and secure women in a world where women are second class, even as queen. but she never tried to be more than what she was, which was a beautiful and intelligent lover and later friend to a king.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I actually became interested in reading about this French mistress of Louis XV after watching an episode of Dr. Who!! Anyway, it was a good read and helped me to understand a bit the life of the grandfather of King XVI (he who lost his head in the French Revolution).

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    This one was a real page turner for me. Well, except for the very boring war/battle descriptions, I pretty much skip those without losing any thing. Very good book. I liked it. It was an honest account of this remarkable woman.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Myriastevens

    A historical fiction book that is very well written. I have learned that Louis the 14th was very private, exclusive and easily pursuaded (mostly by women). Madame Pompadour spent most of her life risking everything to stay in his good favor and keep her place in court.

  26. 4 out of 5

    G-phy

    getting ready to visit Versailles this Fall. I have only read 100 pages, but I already feel like I read the line that inspired the Doctor Who episode. Mitford says that at court it was the fashion to walk quickly with tiny steps, like a something I don't quite remember. Train? Robot? getting ready to visit Versailles this Fall. I have only read 100 pages, but I already feel like I read the line that inspired the Doctor Who episode. Mitford says that at court it was the fashion to walk quickly with tiny steps, like a something I don't quite remember. Train? Robot?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I have always been very curious about this women. Now that I have read about her i found her very interesting. She was very assertive,and she definatly was more than a pretty face. This book was very well written,but the subject wasn't enough to hold my intrest. I have always been very curious about this women. Now that I have read about her i found her very interesting. She was very assertive,and she definatly was more than a pretty face. This book was very well written,but the subject wasn't enough to hold my intrest.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    A fascinating look at a lady with the utmost grace. Highly recommended.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Magid

    Again, I think that this biography was let down by the translation, but apart from that, I wasn't too impressed. It was too meandering, lacking in detail and pace, and not juicy enough by half. Again, I think that this biography was let down by the translation, but apart from that, I wasn't too impressed. It was too meandering, lacking in detail and pace, and not juicy enough by half.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Veronica Franco is my all time favorite historical figure. Madame de Pompadour ranks as a close second.

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