The Sun King by Nancy Mitford

A very elegantly styled biography of Louis XIV, King of France, with particular focus on the building and occupation of the Palace at Versailles.

The writer – one of the famous Mitford sisters – turned to biography later in life and this was her most successful book. It is entertainingly written but occasionally flags when bogged down in family and dynastic relationships that are hard to keep track of unless one is for some reason already familiar with them, at least in outline. The book was written in the 1950s, so perhaps the reader was expected to have more understanding of aristocratic mores at that time. Or perhaps, coming from an aristocratic family herself, the author asssumed everyone had an affinity with titles and lineage.

Louis was clearly a brave and talented man though it is hard to believe he really, really thought he was anointed by God to rule. But his behaviour suggests otherwise.

I suspect there are better books about Louis but this is, nonetheless, a diverting read for the casually interested.

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