THE FRENCH MISTRESS
Scott returns to the bawdy court
of Charles II to bring another of his
mistresses' lives to light, Louise de Kerouaille, who caught his roving eye and rose to power. Scott follows Louise through the labyrinth of court intrigue, painting a rich portrait of Charles' decadent reign. But this is also the picture of a woman in love and a man who loved women in a time when few women gained the kind of power Louise possessed. Scott's feminist approach to history is refreshing.
Though the daughter of a poor nobleman, Louise is raised to the rank of maid of honor to Louis XIV's queen and attracts the interest of visiting English monarch Charles II.
Louis seizes the opportunity to send the wide-eyed Louise to Charles for his pleasure and also as Louis' spy. Louise quickly learns that with so many rivals, she must rely on her wits, sensuality and intelligence to keep Charles interested and make her own fate. She is ambitious enough to want power, wealth and security while juggling two powerful men, enemies and her own desires. (NAL, Jul., 384 pp., $15.00)