The Secret Wife of Louis XlV: Francoise d’Aubigne, Madame de Maintenon

Written by Veronica Buckley
Review by Heather Domin


When Françoise d’Aubigné was born in a French prison cell to a disgraced criminal and the warden’s daughter, no one could ever have imagined she would one day marry the King of France. This biography traces Françoise’s (literally) rags-to-riches story—her unhappy childhood in the Caribbean as a penniless, unloved, neglected girl; her success in the salons of high society as an intelligent, independent, stylish woman; and her pinnacle as a benefactor and caretaker of royal children, bringing her ultimately into the house—and bed—of King Louis XIV.

Buckley’s biography is a page-turner, engaging and witty, stylish, intelligent, and often humorous—much like Françoise herself. A secret side note of history becomes a complex, real woman, a paradox of tradition and innovation, the sum of her parts and yet more so. Françoise was by no means perfect, but this makes her no less fascinating. An enjoyable and educational read.