Memoirs of a Dwarf at the Sun King’s Court
Monsieur Hugues, the dwarf at the center of this tale, draws a coarse and bawdy portrait of the glittering court of Louis XIV. Boarded in youth at the same house as several of the king’s bastards, Monsieur Hugues works himself up to royal service, emptying and cleaning the king’s own chamber pot in the morning, and performing other services at night—mostly beneath tables, where he helps courtiers cheat at cards, and performs special services for the ladies. These particular services come in handy as he is summoned to perform them for a very powerful woman—the king’s own mistress. Now so close to the center of power, the dwarf presses his heartfelt petition for legitimacy, for he has come to believe that legitimacy will make a true man of him. Yet in his fumbling attempts at blackmail and revenge, he is undone. For his seemingly insignificant petition causes a terrible secret to be revealed, a secret that threatens his life as well as the stability of the French monarchy. A strongly sexual tale that portrays the crueler side of human nature, Memoirs of a Dwarf is vivid and well-written, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.