Written by Elizabeth Massie

This is the novelisation of the BBC2 drama series Versailles. Ostensibly about the building of the palace, it in fact takes all the more salacious rumours of the time and runs with them. So we have an ongoing affair between Louis XIV and his sister-in-law, Henriette, sister of Charles II, King of England; a black baby born to Louis’ queen, Theresa of Austria, from an affair with her black dwarf, and Philippe X, Louis’ brother, dressing as a woman and having homosexual affairs. The only one of these that historians accept as accurate is Philippe’s homosexuality and cross-dressing. There is also torture, murder and intrigue between the fictional and historical characters. To my mind this is a travesty of a historical novel. It ends, as I presume the TV series did, on a cliff-hanger with the kidnapping of the Dauphin, which is totally fictional. I don’t mind some tweaking of the facts in a historical novel, but wholesale fictionalising takes this novel into the realms of historical fantasy.

I see from the online reviews that some readers found this novel fast-paced and exciting. Personally I just found it boring.