Writing Sex at Versailles
My trilogy about the (many!) mistresses of Louis XV focuses on the private and intimate moments that I believe are just as important to history as the story of great men and wars. Louis XV was definitely a man ruled by his women, including the four (!) Nesle sisters, the incredible Madame de Pompadour – one of the most powerful women of the 18th century – and the lovely but tragic Comtesse du Barry.
Naturally, given the focus of my trilogy, there is a lot of sex going on, but apparently not enough: the first draft of the manuscript for The Sisters of Versailles kept getting sent back to me by my agent and editors with requests for more sex! I’m not a huge fan of graphic sex scenes and I remember thinking, ugh, really? But I relented and made everything more “sexy” – adding in threesomes, more seductions and the Kama Sutra – though I still managed to keep it mostly implied and off-stage.
For the next book, The Rivals of Versailles, I took my editors’ suggestions to heart and went more explicit, but perhaps too much: my mother said she couldn’t recommend it to her friends! But my editor let me know that the sales team was excited about it because “there’s more sex in this one (sluts)…” to which my agent quipped back: “I always say, you can never go wrong with (sluts)”! And sex does permeate the book, but that’s not surprising since this was the period when the king really slid down the slope of debauchery (quickly): to keep his interest, the Marquise de Pompadour even set up a small brothel in town strictly for the king’s amusement.
In my third book The Enemies of Versailles I think I got the balance right – the Comtesse du Barry was a seasoned courtesan who had been around the block and was very comfortable with all sexual acts, but it remains fairly off-stage. About as explicit as it gets is when, after their first night together, the king exclaims: “And that sweet hole of which I have hitherto been in ignorance; that such joy could be derived from such a dark place.” This is based on a real incident – though the king was extremely amorous, he had been relatively sheltered, and his much more debauched courtiers sniggered at his innocence.
Any differences between sex then and now? Probably not too much. Though everything would have been smellier and hairier, human desire and urges don’t change too much with the centuries, and then, just as now, sex was as central to life as it has always been.
Title: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie
Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy Series Book Three
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Historical, Literary Fiction
Length: 416 pages
In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.
Sally Christie is the author of The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles. She was born in England and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three different languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto.
I am giving away one PRINT copy of The Enemies of Versailles (contest open to US/Canada Addresses ONLY). To enter the giveaway, please fill out the form below by 5 PM Mountain Time Friday April 7th:
Please Note: The prize will be sent by the author and/or publisher.
Follow the rest of the tour HERE.