I often get email from readers, which I love. Here are a few quotes from some letters readers of Mistress of the Sun have sent me, as well as quotes from reviews and blogs.
Cathie Roy, writing in the Coast Reporter: “I was warned when I began reading Mistress of the Sun that I’d need to call in sick because the book’s addictive. And believe me, if I thought I could get away with it, I would have. The book is absolutely amazing.
From an email: “Just finished Mistress of the Sun and, although I wanted the book and its magic to remain in my possession, quickly passed it along to another historical fiction connoisseur. It is difficult returning to the 21st Century after the delicious immersion into 17thC Sun King realm!”
From an email: “I just wanted to let you know what an amazing gift you have. Whenever I read one of your books, I end up staying up all night to finish them and feel sad when they are over. You are hands down one of my favorite authors. You make history come alive along with the characters. I always feel like history is a main character. But, what I love most is the realness and dimension of the characters. They feel like people you could know even though time and completely different life circumstances seperate me from them. Thanks for making them accessible. And, thank you so much for sharing your gift with me!”
From a review in the Sacramento Book Review: “Gulland’s prose makes for easy and captivating reading, depicting truly identifiable characters while simultaneously bringing to life a world more than 300 years old. Readers won’t be disappointed with Gulland’s tale of love, money, forbidden bone magic, loyalty—and, ultimately, betrayal.”
Posted to the blog, Lost Together: “What an amazing picture Gulland paints of Louis XIV’s court and Louise—a woman whose love for Louis was complicated by his life as King. Louise is written with such strength and compassion. Gulland is gifted at bringing history to life—check out her series on Josephine.”
From a review on the blog, Garish & Tweed: “Thank goodness for people like Sandra Gulland, who write historical fiction that?s engrossing and informative without slipping into soap opera or dry information.”
From Twitter: “Picked up MISTRESS OF THE SUN & cannot put it down! House a mess, meals taken standing at the counter, no laundry done. … Might have to call in sick tomorrow so that I can finish it! LOL. I love it when a book grabs you & won’t let go.”
From a post to Amazon.com: “Mistress of the Sun, Gulland’s new novel, is quite simply a work of literary brilliance. A novel filled with light.”
From an email: “I’ve read the Mistress of the Sun and I’m totally addicted! Can’t wait to read more!”
Mistress of the Sun is listed as a “favorite read” at ReaderReport.com; An Online Book Review of Current Women’s Fiction. Here’s a quote from the review: “A novel with a little bit of everything, “Mistress of the Sun” is one to add to any “favorites” list. It conveys the romance of being at French court in the seventeenth century. Author Sandra Gulland has added every element to hold the reader’s attention: romance, intrigue, sorcery, religion, all set against the backdrop of Paris and the outerlying areas. There are cold, crumbling castles as well as cozy, well-furnished castles and villas.”
…”Mistress of the Sun” plays with every emotion available to the reader. The chicanery and amour move the story along swiftly, making it impossible to put the book down once you have started it. This novel is a little weightier and will require more than one’s average weekend to read, but it holds your attention. Sandra Gulland is an extraordinary writer and master storyteller, definitely one of the very, very best.
From an email: “Mistress of the Sun is the absolute best book I have read in a long time. It touched me deeply.”
A review of Mistress of the Sun posted on a blog. Here’s a bit from it: “Sandra Gulland shows a meticulous eye towards the details of this period. And she paints a vivid picture of Paris under the Sun King. Her lively descriptions of city life and the traffic among the barges as they wait their turn to cross the Seine gives us an extremely rich picture of Paris as it must have been. As the love affair between the King and Petite begins quite early on in his reign, we also see how Versailles is transformed from a humble hunting lodge to the immensely extravagant palace it is now.”
From an email: “My first expeience with your work has been Mistress of the Sun. It totally captivated me. It was so seductive and compelling that I want to learn more about both Louise and Louis XIV. I will now go back and explore more of your writing. Thank you so much.”
From an email: “I am in the process of reading The Mistress of the Sun and I don’t want it to end. You said in an interview that you will write more about the characters in the book and I am looking forward to many more. I love reading a book that you just can’t put down. Thank you so much and keep them coming.”
In a library review blog: “Mistress of the Sun has all the qualities of a well crafted historical fiction novel. The story is rich in detail, the characters are real and intriguing and the opulence of early reign of the Sun King comes to life.”
An email from a reader: “I just wanted to write and say that I am new to your work and am already a huge fan! I recently read Mistress of the Sun and as one of the reviews noted, it was indeed “deeply seductive.” I am a voracious reader and of all the books I have read, it was the one that I could “see” in my mind the best. I am now reading the Josephine and Bonaparte trilogy and am also enthralled by the vivid description and flow of your writing.”
From Canadian author Joan Barfoot: “I not only fell into the compelling story and its rich characters, but into its sensuality. What a gift you have for vividness!”
An email from a reader: “Congratulations Sandra on your fabulous Mistress of the Sun… my only complaint, a reader’s dilemna: it was over too soon… I wanted to go on and on and on…why did it have to end?”
From a member of a Louis XIV forum: “I am finding the book Mistress of the Sun a beautiful story. Sandra Gulland gives wonderful descriptions of the beautiful Loire valley in France and also brings the seventeenth century France and the characters of the court to life. She writes extremely well, painting her story with wonder, colour and humour and sensitivity. (Also tinged with great sadness, of course, as well, as now I am reading about Athenais de Montespan.)”
From Sherry, on my blog: “8 years. wow … it’s taken me just 2 days to read “Mistress” which I loved as much as the Josephine B. trilogy…and to think how much time and research you put into this. It’s amazing. To write about historical personages is a daunting task, yet one that is a passion — and perhaps they have spoken to you in little whispers. Clear your mind, refresh yourself and wait until you hear the next little voice.”
From an email: Just finished reading Mistress of the Sun and loved it. Of late, I am enjoying reading best sellers and found it in that section of my local library. Knowing absolutely nothing about 17th century history (pretty well forgotten all of it) I found your novel to be a fresh insight into the times of Louis x1v and appreciated your research.
“A lovely read! Loved the idea of sharing your website as well. It personalizes the author to the reader, who is often unaware that an author is actually a down to earth individual, who challenges herself to hone her talents. Bravo.”
From a reader my Facebook Fan Page: “Finally got the library’s copy of Mistress and devoured it, also in two days! I had to carry my giant sized purse everywhere I went so that I could take Petite with me and see what would happen next. Wonderful, delightful read – I’m happy that it didn’t end at all the way I was expecting it to.”
A post from a reader on my Facebook Fan Page: “I just finished Mistress of The Sun and read it in 2 days!! Absolutely loved it!! You are an amazing writer. I also read your Josephine books and loved them too! I can’t wait for your next book! Thank you for transporting me to another time even for just a few days!”
From Alan Caruba’s review on BookViews.com: “Like historical novels? Sandra Gulland has demonstrated skill in this genre and has just had Mistress of the Sun published ($26.00, Touchstone, division of Simon and Schuster). It is the story of Louise de la Valliere, a woman of humble background, who became the most beloved mistress of King Louis XIV. She bears him four children over a decade and is made a duchess. There is, of course, court intrigue. This has a little bit of everything that lovers of history and romance crave in a good story.”
From Behind the Stove blog: “Loved Sandra Gulland’s latest, Mistress of the Sun (easily as wonderful as her Josephine books…as Gina said, though, the only bad thing is it’s not part of a trilogy…)”
From an email: “Ms. Gulland, Just finished Mistress of the Sun two days after buying it and felt compelled to let you know how much I loved it. Sing ye!”
From Sean at The Inkwell Review: “Sandra Gulland’s prose is witty and engaging, and her greatest accomplishment in Mistress of the Sun is realism. She does not write a fairytale, nor does she shy from the earthy realities facing women of Louise’s era: childbirth, contraception, gossip and ruined reputations. Most importantly, she convincingly portrays the thoughts of a rustic, pious woman who rose to prominence and fell to ill repute, and all the while maintained a quiet integrity.”
From a review by Tracy Farnsworth at RoundTableReviews.com: “Based on the life of Louise de la Valliere and King Louis XIV, MISTRESS OF THE SUN mesmerizes the reader. You’re transported back to the 1600s for this fictional story based on real characters and true situations. It’s so real, it reads like the biography of an incredibly strong, determined heroine and the man she loves.”
From Curled up with a Good Book: “Gulland does a wonderful job of lifting her novel from the romantic to the more profound issues that assail this young woman”
The daughter of a friend wrote her mother: “I am about through and it is one of my favorite books. It is so beautifully written. I am sad that it is almost done!”
I’m very nearly made tearful by the reviews on Amazon.com. See for yourself here.
Email from a reader: “Have just finished the book — did not want it to end. It was so fabulous and you are very gifted. Please get another one out as quickly as possible.”
A ten out of ten (!) from Romance Readers Today: “Louise de la Valliere is one of those fascinating women at whom we can only marvel. Even had she lived today, her life would be the stuff of fantasy, almost impossible to believe. Louis XIV was as famous as today?s rock stars. It was commonly held that his touch alone could drive out evil. Author Sandra Gulland creates a fictional history out of real people and their stories, recreating a world and a culture with exquisite and fantastic detail. MISTRESS OF THE SUN is like a fine meal, to be savored and enjoyed. Take your time with this one, you will not want it to end.”
A glowing review from Books ‘n Border Collies! “What a wonderful novel! Eight years in the making, Ms. Gulland’s meticulous research pulls you into every scene, every page. I loved the non-omniscient narration that left me to experience all of Louise’s joys and confusions along with her as she tried to understand a life at court for which she was not prepared. When you don’t get to see all the behind-the-scenes scheming of the high and mighty, it’s easy to see how she was able to retain her innocence for as long as she did. And when the walls come tumbling down, as they inevitably would, her final decision is the decision of a woman much more world-wise, but one who has not been broken. The final scenes will move you to tears but make you proud to have known Louise de la Valliere.”
In a wonderful email from a student: “I finished Mistress of the Sun in only a day. I was enraptured by how different the style of writing was and how poignantly you wrote her story. I wanted to thank you for writing these books that have changed the face of historical literature forever.”
From the beautiful blog of a very old friend: “A word of advice though. If you’re going to read Mistress of the Sun, make sandwiches first because this book is almost impossible to put down.” Thank you, Susan!
From a reader who knows the history well: “I enjoyed the book very much–you did the near impossible–you brought Louise Vallière to life and made her a comprehensible and touching character to modern eyes. Usually in most histories on Louis XIV, she is presented as crying ninny who goes off to a convent when Louis moves into Versailles, but you actually made her life interesting.” [Note: for more on this contrast, please see my Q & A.]
From Facebook: “I just finished Mistress. It left me with a full heart just like the Josephine books! You have an incredible talent that transports the reader with you to another time. I could see the Court in full colour in my mind! Thank you!”
From an email: “I have never written an author, but I looked up your site and had to tell you that Mistress of the Sun is one of the best books I’ve read in YEARS! Utterly riveting characters, a landscape that literally came alive in front of my eyes and, a truly fascinating plot. Details that compare to no other book I’ve read (except perhaps your Josephine B. novels). ‘Petite’ is a person who I will know forever.”
From an email: “Congratulations on such an astounding achievement! The research alone is staggering. Thank you for this wonderful piece of art. I treasure this gifted work & have highly reccommended it to everyone I know!”
From Facebook: “This is simply outstanding! I have adored your writing since reading the JoB trilogy and loved this one equally if not more. I fell in love with Louis and Louise and journeyed with Louise as she watched the sad departure of her love as he became more King than the man she fell in love with. Thank you Sandra for another lovely vacation in France… for I didn’t just read the book, I traveled to pre-revolutionary France with every word.”
From an email: “I finished Mistress last week. It was wonderful and worth the wait. For me, I enjoyed immensly once she had arrived at Louis’ court via Henriette. The anticipation that was built up during the telling of her childhood, was intoxicating. I kept turning the pages, waiting for it to unfold. I am currently reading Antonia Fraser’s Love and Louis XIV, as you had suggested in Mistress. It is a very good ‘after’ read for Mistress, as I feel that I know some of the characters from your book that really existed. I have to remind myself that your works are fiction, and that we don’t truly know what their deepest desires and thoughts were. I too, cannot wait for your next work. I am insatiable. I am sure, much like the Josephine triology, that I will revisit Mistress, time and again.”
Posted to Amazon.ca: “Sandra Gulland, author of the riveting and critically acclaimed Josephine B. series, has written an engrossing and touching novel about Louise de la Valliere, one of Louis XIV’s most interesting, charming mistresses.
“I am a huge fan of Ms. Gulland’s personality and enchanting writing style. As soon as I learned of Mistress of the Sun’s impending release in Canada, I spent the extra postage and ordered it through Amazon.ca (I live in the United States).
“I read the book in record time. In fact, I reluctantly completed it this morning at one o’clock. I am not disappointed to have spent the extra money on postage. It was one of the best novels I have read in the last year.
“Mistress of the Sun beautifully tells the story of Louise de la Valliere, a chaste young woman with a loving heart and quiet nature, who, despite her religious upbringing and guilt, falls in love with a very married, very magnetic Louis XIV. The story is set during the golden years of Louis’ epoch—when he was still young, dashing, brazen, and not yet entirely jaded by the intrigues and excesses of his court. It makes for a compelling backdrop, one that ensnares the reader.
“Ms. Gulland, deft as ever, masterfully weaves a story that seems to come together colorfully with each word. Her characterizations are subtle and brilliant. This reader grew to love innocent, tender Louise and felt her heart break when certain tragedies befell the character.
“It is clear that Ms. Gulland did her research, peppering the story with interesting but obscure facts about court life, provincial superstitions, and horsemanship.
“For anyone who loves French history or historical novels, Mistress of the Sun must be read. It sparkles as brilliantly as Versailles in the summer sun!”
“Mistress of the Sun was a fantastic read. I am so sorry to have finished it. As with any good book, you just want it to go on for ever.”
“I have waited not so very patiently for this novel. Ever since devouring the Josephine B Trilogy I have wanted another novel by Sandra Gulland. Mistress of the Sun did not disappoint one bit. I stayed up late several nights in a row, caught in that classic readers dilemma: I wanted to keep reading but I didn’t want the book to end! End it did in an oh so poignant way. A delightfully brilliant read in every way.”
“The best book I have read in ten years.”
“I didn’t want to put the book down. I would find myself wondering and worrying about the characters even when I wasn’t reading. The descriptions of people and places were so vivid and real. I loved it!”
“I just finished Mistress of the Sun. I couldn’t put it down. In fact I’ve hardly thought of much else since it arrived in my mailbox. I really cherished the quiet time I had with the book.”
From authors: “Beautifully told and elegantly written, Ms. Gulland’s novel, Mistress of the Sun, sweeps the reader up and transports them into the opulent world of the 17th Century French Court. In this tale, Louise de la Valliere leaps boldly from these elegantly written pages. She is unforgettable, as is this brilliant novel!” —Diane Haeger, author of The Courtesan
“Mistress of the Sun is an excellent book, glittering and tender and soulful and wise. —Merilyn Simonds, author of The Holding
“Sandra Gulland has written a poignant story of Louise de la Vallière, an early mistress of Louis XIV. In it she shows us the Sun King without his trappings, before he turned into the Louis XIV of popular image, through the eyes of a woman who loved him. Suspenseful, evocative, atmospheric, and deliciously satisfying reading, with an immensely appealing heroine.” —Margaret George, author of The Autobiography of Henry VIII: A Novel. With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
“Here’s a warning: Mistress of the Sun is dangerously seductive. It’s one of those books that will grab you and hold you captive till the last page is turned — and even then, chances are you’ll find yourself, eyes burning, online at midnight, ordering Sandra Gulland’s other books. Yes, it’s that good.” —Geeta Nadkarni, For Canwest News Service, published in the Calgary Herald on Sunday, March 02, 2008. (For the full review, click here.)
From a bookstore: “I finished the new Sandra Gulland, which was everything I imagined; boy, it reads quickly but memorably: Sandra Gulland, the doyenne of the royal historical novel, returns triumphantly like the queens she has written about, in Mistress of the Sun. This story of Louise de la Vallière, known familiarly as Petite, who started as the daughter of a knight and made her way up to the court of Louis XIV, reads like clockwork?not mechanically, but rather in a smooth way that combines the historical detail with the fictional dramatization. Gulland’s ability to portray both the larger-than-life characters and the passing details of seventh-century France (horseshoes were hung to ward off evil, for instance) creates a convincing canvas on which to imagine a lasting love-struck tale that captivated Dumas in his own novel about Petite (which even included the return of d’Artagnan). This is popular historical-novel-writing at its most complete. Encore!”