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!



May said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this...sounds like it went into splendid detail and depth.

elena maria vidal said...

I'd love to read it!

Esme said...

Thanks for the review

Arleigh said...

Thanks for the review Lucy! I've been listening to you raving about this book for a while now, with your special posts on the ladies in Louis' life and such. If I ever get the chance to pick up a book about him I will make sure it's this one!

Viola said...

I read Cronin's book about Marie Antoinette which was fascinating and really restored her reputation. This one sounds excellent too. I hope to read all of his books! Thank you very much for such an insightful review.

Ingrid Mida said...

I MUST find this book! It sounds fantastic especially after my recent trip to Versailles! I also lingered a long time in front of Louis XIV's portrait. It is even more magnificent in person (as most art is I guess).

Lucy said...

Thanks Matterhorn:)The detail was really incredible.

Hi Elena:) I personally think you would love this book.

My pleasure, Esme. Thanks:)

Lucy said...

Hey Arleigh:)You probably know this book as well as I do (I never stopped blabbing about it lol!!) I find that the sections of the ladies were especially interesting and more true to fact than a lot of other stuff that usually sounds more like gossip than what actually happened. Thanks:)

Hi Viola:) I think I would probably love to read the one on MA too. I know he also wrote on Napoleon and I'm actually on the look out for it. Thanks:)

Hi Ingrid:) I know for a fact that you would love this book- Versailles is almost synonymous with LouisXIV.

sallymandy said...

This is a wonderful review and it makes me want to rush out right now and get the book. Thanks Lucy!

Lucy said...

Hi Sallymandy:) Thanks for your comment- I bet you'd love this book.

Marie Reed said...

Perfect! I'l pick it up this weekend! Who could pass it up after such a glwowing Ms. Lucy recommendation:)