Claudette is from a family of poor actors that roams France as part of a troupe of actors. Her mother becomes one of the greatest actresses on stage working with famous playwrights such as: Moliere and Racine. Although society honors actors for their acting abilities, society shuns actors. Through chance, Claudette meets Louis XIV's mistress Athenais, known as "The Shadow Queen". Claudette seizes the great opportunity to become Athenais' personal attendant. The position is more dangerous than Claudette anticipated, and she must try to protect herself and her family.
I won a copy of this book in the Goodreads First Reads Program*. I was excited to read this book, as I find the affairs of the poison to be an interesting part of history. The Shadow Queen is not strictly about that, but is more about the events that lead up to it. This book did not disappoint. I quickly became engrossed in the story, and could not put it down. I really liked that this story was from Claudette's perspective. I liked reading about the events from the viewpoint of someone on the fringe of what was happening. Some of the events at court are mentioned, but are not given in great detail. I liked this because the main character would not have been directly involved with these events.
It was also interesting to learn more about players(actors) in this time period. I did not realize the extent of the disdain and rejection of actors by society. It was intriguing to read how adored actors were for their performances, yet they were considered evil and not allowed to take communion or be buried in sacred ground without repudiating their acting career. This added another interesting layer to the story.
I thought this was an exceptional historical fiction book. Gulland takes historical people and events and creates an incredible story. The characters are so real you will want to keep reading to know what happens to them. It was a beautifully told story. I am looking forward to reading more books from this author.
If you are a fan of historical fiction you will not want to miss The Shadow Queen. I highly recommend reading this book.
*The Goodreads First Reads program does not require winners to give a review. Winners are encouraged to review the book, as the authors and publishers offering the books for free are trying to get the public interested in their book. If a review is given, it is not stipulated that it should be positive or negative, only an honest review. Winning this book does not change the nature of my review, it merely provides me with early access to this book.