The Courtier’s Secret

Written by Donna Russo Morin
Review by Audrey Braver

In 1682, the Court of Versailles is in its heyday. The reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, is at its zenith. Secrecy, intrigue and violence are a way of life. Jeanne du Bois joins the court when she is sent from the convent in disgrace, much to the embarrassment of her abusive and royal-climbing courtier father. The obvious solution is to marry her off as soon as possible, a solution that Jeanne eschews. She prefers to fence and go out on her own at night dressed in men’s clothing under the assumed identity of Jean-Luc, her “cousin.” That is when she meets Henri d’Aubigne, a Musketeer, and his fellow Musketeers, whom she befriends and supports in swordfights. One day Henri meets Jeanne at court and they fall in love. All the while, Henri never suspects that the beautiful Jeanne is also the brave sword-fighting Jean-Luc, his nightly drinking companion.

Ms. Morin’s knowledge of the Palace of Versailles and the daily routine of the court is extensive, but it tends to dominate the story. Her heroine is gutsy and likable if a bit too modern in her outlook for the period. The premise, however, is implausible even with a good stretch of the imagination. The sense of the time involved in accomplishing certain acts is a bit skewed and absurd.