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A compelling new biography of the legendary mistress of King Louis XV of France with dramatic insights into the life of one of the most enchanting, powerful and feared women to grace the world's stage. From her modest beginnings in early 18th-century Paris to her reign as the undisputed mistress of Versailles, this is the story of a truly remarkable woman whose astonishing rise confounded the most experienced and the most sophisticated of her contemporaries.Algrant weaves her richly textured narrative with tremendous authority, detailing the transformations that marked the life of Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson from her early grooming to assume the role of a rich man's wife, her half-hearted marriage to a Parisian tax collector, her involvement with the financial elite of France and her eventual role as the mistress of the king.Although accustomed to the king's extra-marital liaisons, the court was shocked at the sudden ascension of the low-born Madame Poisson. The newcomer, however, wasted time in establishing herself as the king's sole confidante and, ultimately, his indispensable partner in affairs of state.Algrant takes the reader into the farthest and most exclusive chambers at Versailles, allowing us to glimpse the resourcefulness and the determination with which Madame de Pompadour deftly manipulated the factions at the court. She also illuminates her influence across the artistic and political spectrum of the day, including her relationships with the leaders of the French Enlightenment: Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot. Evocative and insightful, this is a seductive portrait of one of the most fascinating and influential women of the age.
Christine Pevitt Algrant was born in Lancashire and studied classics at Cambridge University. She has worked as a television reporter and publisher in London and New York, and now writes on the history of 18th-century France. Her previous book, Philippe, duc d'Orleans was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.