The Shadow Queen by Sandra GullandThe Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow Queen

bySandra Gulland

Paperback | April 7, 2015

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From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rose from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th-century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.

1660, Paris: Claudette's life is like an ever-revolving stage set. Following an impoverished childhood spent wandering the French countryside with her family acting troupe, she witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theatres. Working with playwrights Corneille, Moliere and Racine, Claudette leads a culturally rich life, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters pulls Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athenaïs de Montespan, mistress of Louis XIV and reigning "shadow queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athenais offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theatre only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athenaïs, who fears that political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athenaïs becomes ever more desperate to hold on to the king's favour, her innocent love charms begin to delve into the realm of deadly black magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her life-and the family she loves so dearly-at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly constructed Versailles and the cut-throat Parisian "war of the theatres," The Shadow Queen is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.

SANDRA GULLANDis the author of the Canadian bestsellerMistress of the Sunas well as the Josephine B. Trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies in seventeen languages worldwide.
Title:The Shadow QueenFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:336 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.31 × 1 inPublished:April 7, 2015Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554687829

ISBN - 13:9781554687824


Rated 2 out of 5 by from ... Not what I expected. At all.
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not as good as I had expected Having read the Josephine B. Trilogy multiple times, I decided to give this book a go. I don't know why, but Gulland's writing here is completely incomparable to her other work. Disappointed.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing ** spoiler alert ** For someone who loved the Josephine B trilogy I was very disappointed. The story was very dry and writing not up to par with what I am used to. It was told from an interesting point of view but spent too much time on her life before joining the court and not enough about the intrigue there and the affairs de poisons.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I loved this book! It was absolutely captivating. Give it a chance; you may be surprised to see that it is a quite lovely novel!
Date published: 2015-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emerging from the Shadows to Reign Sandra Gulland’s latest novel, The Shadow Queen, does much to cement her place as one of Canada’s leading historical novelists. The novel is a companion piece to her critically acclaimed book, Mistress of the Sun. The Shadow Queen begins with a family of players who struggle to eke out a meagre living in what is deemed an immoral profession. The main character is a spritely young girl by the name of Claudette des Oeillets. She is the daughter of the players. She is shown to be adept at tumbling and other acrobatic skills. She is kind and loyal to her family, looking after her brother who is at best guess autistic or at least simple. A chance encounter with Mademoiselle de Tonnay-Charente, later known as Athénaïs, sets Claudette and the novel up for a most interesting and intriguing run. Asserting what would later become one of her defining characteristics, a pertinacious Athénaïs desires to rid herself of a governess who is not to her liking. She seeks out the help of Claudette in this murderous plot requesting at times both incantations and poisons. Claudette does her best to appease Athénaïs but of course, she is nothing more than an actor. And thus begins a tumultuous relationship between the two that sees them embroiled in a battle for independence and power while having an almost toxic bond in an unconventional kinship. Athénaïs is in the spotlight commandeering and social engineering her own importance. Claudette struggles to live, but never gives up remembering her father’s word, “Nil desperandum.” Tragically, Claudette’s father is beaten to death. She, along with her mother and brother, moves to Paris, where after a series of misfortunes, they finally begin to have some stability in their lives. They find themselves in numerous situations and skirmishes amongst the theatre culture. Claudette, determined to support her family, ends up in the service of Athénaïs who is destined to be the favoured lover of Louis XIV. Athénaïs eventually forces Claudette to provide more than a seamstress’s service and to become a de facto concubine of Louis XIV. Athénaïs wields such power over the king that she is referred to as The Shadow Queen. Some may think that the title of this novel is a reference to this, but I would argue the title refers to Claudette. She is the true queen of the novel. She emerges from a life riddled with strife to one of self-determination. In the end, it is Claudette who has emerged from the shadows of poverty and disadvantage to reign over her own destiny. Gulland’s gifts as a writer are evident in this latest work. It is meticulously researched and well crafted. Historical accuracy is a tenet of Gulland’s work. The book is well complimented by numerous appendixes that aid the reader. The book reads smoothly as Gulland has chosen words and sentence structures that keep up the brisk pace of the plot whilst creating a palette of colours, sights, and smells that transport the reader back in time. The reader will find himself engaged and turning the pages that lead into the nooks and crannies of 17th century France. The book leaves the reader happily satisfied and thoroughly entertained, and most likely, eagerly anticipating the next work from Sandra Gulland.
Date published: 2014-04-21

Editorial Reviews

"Sandra Gulland shapes a world rich in historical detail and timeless in its exploration of divided loyalties, power struggles and the consequences of remaining true to heartfelt ideals.” —Ania Szado, author of Studio Saint-Ex“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-century Paris.” —Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls“Sandra Gulland's latest will remind readers why they fall in love with the past. Gulland uses her meticulous research with consummate skill, rendering vivid the luxury and squalor of Louis XIV's France and breathing life into fully formed characters that tug at the heart. Masterful.” —Tasha Alexander, New York Times-bestselling author of Death in the Floating City