What would it be like if you were low born to a family of French traveling actors in the mid-1600s? Now suppose your father died and it was up to you to care for your mother and little brother? That's how life started for young Claudette, but that was not where she would end up.
Winter was coming--I could smell it. Even so, we headed north, following a cow track across a barren field, away from all the lawless soldiers.—The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland (Random House / Doubleday, 2014, p. 3; uncorrected proof)
Onward. I shifted little Gaston onto my right hip and set my eyes on the far horizon. . . . Onward toward Poitiers, where we might earn a meal performing for crowds. News spread that the King and Court were there, mobilizing for yet another battle.
- Setting: later decades of the 1600s; Paris, Versailles, the theater
- Circumstances: Claude des Oeillers (Claudette) struggles to make a better life for her mother and brother, rising from traveling actor to member of the French theater to companion of Louis XIV's mistress
- Characters: Claudette and her family; Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV, the king; famous playwrights; various people at court and in the theater
- Genre: historical fiction
- Strong points so far: the personal and ethical conflicts Claudette struggles with; the details of the French theater in the 1600s; seeing the court through the eyes of an outsider
- Themes that have caught my attention: politics of the theater; role of the Church in daily life; the intrigues of the court; moral dilemmas; love of family
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