Sunday, June 14, 2009
Book Review: Louis XIV by Vincent Cronin
I can’t recall when or if I’ve ever read anything historically factual that was this captivating. Here’s a history book that reads better than a novel. Truly, the life of Louis XIV is described in such vivid details that I couldn’t help being totally absorbed by this book. There is a section dedicated to practically every imaginable aspect of Louis’ life.
Not only are the King’s numerous and lucrative achievements clearly explained throughout; the specifics of his attitude, beliefs, mannerisms, thought processes, creativity and more, unfold with such eloquence and sequence, it’s impossible to put this book down. Your curiosity passes from one topic to the other. Before you know it, you’ve read the whole book.
Louis was a King who was completely in his element as ruler of his country. His total and absolute regality was totally natural for him; yet, he had the keenest of abilities for understanding people of all levels.
There are sections dedicated to the important women in his life, filled with the most interesting personal particularities that were an absolute delight for me to read. There is also a section that goes into the minute specifics of a typical day in his life. I was surprised to learn of Louis’ unbelievably huge appetite (there’s a whole section on this too) as well as the whole ordeal of getting the meal to him. Here’s a passage on this:
‘To reach the royal table the King’s dinner had to cross the Rue de la Surintendance, enter the south wing, mount a staircase, pass through several corridors, cross the upper vestibule of the staircase of the princes, the salon of the shopkeepers (Versailles had its own shopping center), the Grand Hall of the guards, the upper vestibule of the marble case and finally the Hall of the King’s Guards.’
Louis was also the brains behind much of the Versailles creation- he was a patron of the arts and was responsible for much of France’s grandeur. There was also a domestic side to Louis as well as a profound devotion to Catholicism; both of these aspects being more prominent towards the latter days of his life.
I learned so much from this fact-filled book! I highly recommend Louis XIV to anyone who is interested in learning more about this great King, his Court, his Ladies, and all that he influenced throughout history. This historical read surpassed all expectations. Excellent!
Posted by Lucy at 8:29 PM