Author: Sandra Gulland

+Blog Book Tour+ The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

Posted Friday, 25 April, 2014 by jorielov , , 2 Comments

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The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

The Shadow Queen Virtual Book Tour with France Book Tours

Published By: DoubleDay (), 8 April, 2014
Official Author Websites: Site | Twitter | Facebook | Pin(terest Boards | GoodReads
Available Formats: Hardback & Ebook
Page Count: 336

Converse on Twitter: #TheShadowQueen & #FranceBT

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comAcquired Book By: I was selected to be a tour stop on the “The Shadow Queen” virtual book tour through France Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher Doubleday, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

First Impression of the Novel:

What appeals to me about this novel is the intense study of history during a time in France I do know anything about! I love well researched historical fiction stories and this one, appears to be one that I will have trouble putting down!

The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises 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. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother’s astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she’s socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning “Shadow Queen.” Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater 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 Athénaïs, who fears 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 Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the blood-stained fields of the Franco-Dutch war, 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 Gulland
Photo Credit: James Brylowski http://www.jamesbrylowski.com/

{: Author Biography :}

Sandra Gulland is the author of the Josephine B. Trilogy, internationally best-selling novels about Josephine Bonaparte which have been published in over seventeen countries. Her forth novel, Mistress of the Sun , set in the 17th-century court of the Sun King, was also a bestseller and published internationally. Her most recent novel is The Shadow Queen, also set in the era of the Sun King, published in April of 2014 by HarperCollins in Canada and Doubleday in the U.S.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comGetting to Know Author Sandra Gulland

via Simon & Schuster

A novel befit a bookish soul:

The little extra inclusions within the scope of a novel is what set my mind aflame with gratitude for the author who gave us such a lovely little extra glimpse into their creative process. This comes to the reader in all different ways and mannerisms, but inside The Shadow Queen there are the delights of finding a Dedication to Ms. Gulland’s father who inspired character quirks to nestle inside the cast of characters; a lovely disclosure of contents set to the tone and pitch of a play on the stage; and a Historical Note to elude to the greater circle of knowledge we ought to realise about 17th Century France on the expeditious hour of our arrival in the story. A bemuseful quotation taunts us with a fevering of expectation of where we might be led.

In the back of the novel, one discovers An Author’s Note of which I hesitated to read ahead of the story and thus kept my curiosity at bay ever justly muted; a Glossary of Terminology & an index blueprint of currencies. A full list of the Cast of Characters replete with a biographical sketch on each of their behalf (I had to wink a smile seeing this section!) turnt out the Appendixes as my copy is a bound galley remiss of the Author’s Acknowledgement Notes and Author Biography.

And, here is what I happily discovered after the story absorbed into my mind’s eye and found a cosy place to occupy my wonton thoughts on its behalf. Each time young Gaston is portrayed, I  could not help but notice he was either Down Syndrome or had a variation of autism. By all counts, Gaston teaches humility, pure joy, and an appreciation for kindness. He is written well for the era in which the story lives, but I wish I had found a bit more about him in the Cast of Characters Appendix. Gulland goes a step further to explain the differences between fictional accounts and the real-life histories of the main protagonists which I was thankful to see were included in the ARC!

My Review of The Shadow Queen:

We enter Claudette’s life at the turbulent hour of her family arriving on the larkspur hope of gaining a performance for the King as he is sequestered away from Paris. Her young heart is not only full of pride on behalf of her family’s innovative spirit of self-sufficiency but in her abilities to walk a line of honour as she has entered into a time of shifting away from her girlhood and into womanhood. Her maternal affection towards her dear brother Gaston is as honest as her approach to her theatrical craft of living. A girl her age is not oft full of grace towards a sibling nor one who has a bit of a disadvantage in how he observes and learns about the world. She draws out his innocent love of others and of life itself.

Gulland has stitched into the subtext a tone of 17th Century living, striving to give the modern reader a point-of-reference whenceforth to deposit them into the time and setting of where The Shadow Queen evolves into being. A bittersweet image of a dichotomy of difference between the caste sets of class and how the struggles of the commoners were out of alignment with the aristocrats who true to their nature did not feel empathy of their misfortunes. A barring of diffidence set against the rippling tides of mistrust from the Crown downward. Theatre in the 17th Century was such a curious period of ingenuity, in how troupes brought stories to life and kept the audience animated by their efforts. Even the holiday celebrations of Mardis Gras were an elaborate display of theatrical masking of character performance! The only downside is how horridly misunderstood and mistreated the players of the stage were often attacked by those of the upper classes. Curiously to me, was the belief in their falsehood performance was a direct influence against faith and how being an actor was in some reference a defiance of God. Historical stories such as The Shadow Queen bring into light the superstitious ways of the past and how perception can alter a person’s ability to thrive or besotted by poverty.

Caught in a world of varying influences and consequences, Claudette finds that her best method of advancing is keeping herself hugged to the shadows of those of whom she’d envision walking alongside in full equality. It is in the shadows she starts to see how she can alter her stars and re-align her position to lead a comfortable life compared to her poverty stricken childhood, yet in order to do so, she has to shake off the disillusioned reality of not always being in agreement with the practiced actions of the aristocracy.

Gulland split her novel into separate acts as though we were attending a large production set to stage rather than walking through a portal leading to the court in 17th Century Paris!  Her deft hand to illuminate the delicacy needed to make bold choices and daring a glimpse at the consequences, her story propels you forward into a world glinted by masquerade.The masks are both illusionary and tangibly real, as they belie the front of which the heart attempts to dis-sway.

The agility of theatre to be an elixir of reincarnated joy out of the sorrow acts of grief, and the metamorphosis of personality entertain the notion of not allowing our past to ever be a vindication of our future. The theatre heals the soul by igniting the spirit back into the caress of emotion and of humanity dignity. I found Claudette to be a woman who always tried to listen to her heart and to honour her family by standing by them at all costs. Her own life and dreams were put on hold in order to keep the balance. The position Athénaïs puts her in is not one that can be condoned because she was only thinking of her own selfish desires and not the welfare of her confidante. I applauded her small successes and moments of feeling truly free as herself, as she never could quite break out of the pattern her life had taken. The most happiness she always protected and yielded to were wrapped inside the cosy confines of family. As true freedom is always hinged to love and is set free on the wings of hope.

 

Claudette’s self-confidence was her best gift:

And, yet it was one of her virtues that nearly overtook her ability to perform, not merely on the stage, but whilst she was out with others. She faltered a bit when she was presented with a situation outside her comfort zone, but she rebounded by adhering to the lessons of her father and in the notion that even if your cast out from what is familiar, you can find common ground. I appreciated seeing how she was keen to find an anchoring with her father’s whispered truths and how these truths guided her throughout her life after he had long since passed.

Claudette has given me a pause and urge to speak the expression “mon dieu!” As it is quite a fitting expression for a variety of situations! Most especially a blessed way of showing exasperation! Gulland is most surely a wordsmith in arms, as she has given such wonderful forgotten words and phrases a shining light of candescence! Words you must allow soak into for a bit of measure and absorb back to a time when the spoken language was slightly more curling of eloquence than our modern dialect has befallen!

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The Shadow Queen Book Trailer via KnopfDoubleDay

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Virtual Road Map for “The Shadow Queen” Blog Tour:

The Shadow Queen Virtual Book Tour with France Book Tours

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Please take note of the Related Articles as they were hand selected due to being of cross-reference importance in relation to this book review. This applies to each post on my blog where you see Related Articles underneath the post. Be sure to take a moment to acknowledge the further readings which are offered.

Be sure to scope out upcoming tours I will be hosting with:

France Book Tours

on my Bookish Events page!
Be sure to drop back on 30 April for my Author Interview with Ms. Gulland!
Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com
On Beginning to Write my Next Novel by Sandra Gulland via Sandra Gulland
{ of which I presume was the jump-start of “The Shadow Queen” }

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

{SOURCES: Cover art of “The Shadow Queen”, book synopsis, author photograph of Ms. Gulland, author biography, and the tour host badge were all provided by France Book Tours and used with permission. The book trailer by KnopfDoubleDay & personal video by Sandra Gulland had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel and the author who penned it. Blog Tour badge provided by Parajunkee to give book bloggers definition on their blogs. Tweets were able to be embedded by the codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. France Book Tours badge created by Jorie in Canva.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2014.

Related Articles:

Claude de Vin des Oeillets – (en.wikipedia.org)

Claude de Vin des Oeillets – (thisisversaillesmadame.blogspot.com)

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Posted Friday, 25 April, 2014 by jorielov in 17th Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Trailer, Claude de Vin des Oeillets, Clever Turns of Phrase, France, France Book Tours, French Literature, Geographically Specific, Historical Fiction, Interviews Related to Content of Novel, Passionate Researcher, Sociological Behavior, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

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