|Other books we’re loving this month|
From the acclaimed author of Suite Française comes Némirovsky’s third novel, a masterpiece of French literature, available for the first time in Canada.
Le Bal is a penetrating and incisive book set in early twentieth century France. At its heart is the tension between mother and daughter. The nouveau-riche Kampfs, desperate to become members of the social elite, decide to throw a ball to launch themselves into high society. For selfish reasons Mrs. Kampf forbids her teenage daughter, Antoinette, to attend the ball and banishes her to the laundry room. In an unpremeditated fury of revolt and despair, Antoinette takes a swift and horrible revenge. A cruel, funny and tender examination of class differences, Le Bal describes the torments of childhood with rare accuracy.
Also included in this volume is Snow in Autumn, in which Némirovsky pays homage to Chekov and chronicles the life of a devoted servant following her masters as they flee Revolutionary Moscow and emigrate to a life of hardship in Paris.
Love and Louis XIV
The self-proclaimed Sun King, Louis XIV ruled over the most glorious and extravagant court in seventeenth-century Europe. Now, Antonia Fraser goes behind the well-known tales of Louis’s accomplishments and follies, exploring in riveting detail his intimate relationships with women.
The king’s mother, Anne of Austria, had been in a childless marriage for twenty-two years before she gave birth to Louis XIV. A devout Catholic, she instilled in her son a strong sense of piety and fought successfully for his right to absolute power. In 1660, Louis married his first cousin, Marie-Thérèse, in a political arrangement. While unfailingly kind to the official Queen of Versailles, Louis sought others to satisfy his romantic and sexual desires. After a flirtation with his sister-in-law, his first important mistress was Louise de La Vallière, who bore him several children before being replaced by the tempestuous and brilliant Athénaïs, marquise de Montespan. Later, when Athénaïs’s reputation was tarnished, the King continued to support her publicly as Athénaïs left court for a life of repentance. Meanwhile her children’s governess, the intelligent and seemingly puritanical Françoise de Maintenon, had already won the King’s affections; in a relationship in complete contrast to his physical obsession with Athénaïs, Louis XIV lived happily with Madame de Maintenon for the rest of his life, very probably marrying her in secret. When his grandson’s child bride, the enchanting Adelaide of Savoy, came to Versaille she lightened the King’s last years – until tragedy struck.
With consummate skill, Antonia Fraser weaves insights into the nature of women’s religious lives – as well as such practical matters as contraception – into her magnificent, sweeping portrait of the king, his court, and his ladies.
Lord John and the Hand of Devils
A keepsake collection of Lord John Grey’s shorter adventures and a spectacular addition to any Gabaldon fan’s library, Lord John and the Hand of Devils brings three unique novellas together for the first time.
Lord John and the Hellfire Club marks the first appearance of Lord John outside the Outlander novels. A young diplomat who had begged for Lord John’s help is killed before he can explain his need. Witnessing the murder, Grey vows to avenge the young man, as the trail leads to the notorious Hellfire Club and the dark caves beneath Medmenham Abbey.
In Lord John and the Succubus, Grey’s assignment as liaison to a Hanoverian regiment in Germany finds him caught between two threats: the advancing French and Austrian army, and the menace of a mysterious “night-hag,” who spreads fear and death among the troops.
Finally, in Lord John and the Haunted Soldier, Lord John is called to the Arsenal at Woolwich to answer a Royal Commission of Enquiry’s questions regarding a cannon that exploded during the battle of Krefeld. Accusations ensue, and Lord John finds himself knee-deep in a morass of gunpowder, treason, and plot–haunted by a dead lieutenant, and followed by a man with no face.
Purchase your copy here
Publication date: December 3, 2007