A delightful escape from today’s social norms and dynamics of love, the Sisters of Versailles provides a glimpse back to the time of royals of the 18th century where status reigns supreme and there is a protocol for acceptable romantic scandals and adultery. While focused on the past, the story in many ways is a reflection of what is common, yet hidden, in our society today.
The story captures a period in the King of France’s life where he is bewitched and beguiled by five sisters – each with distinct personalities and driven by differing desires and motivations. Each sister is faced with the option to pursue the ultimate position in French society as mistress of the king and it is interesting to see how their individual pursuits or lack thereof impacts the king’s life, his rule over France and the sibling relationship they have with each other. Sally Christie’s writing is rich and fulsome, capturing the different motivations of each sister adeptly – ambition, money, religion, loyalty and love.
The story is told from two angles – letters written by the sisters to each other as well as from each sister’s point of view. Christie balances between each with precision and the variety makes for an engaging story. The plot unfolds at a compelling pace, gradually revealing more of the sisters’ lives. The contrast between the sisters’ lives as represented in their letters and the actual life led by each adds to the breadth of the story. Subtly introduced, karma also plays a big role in the sister’s lives. This enchanting tale has all the elements to be an enjoyable read for a variety of tastes.