Author: Marci Jefferson
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Copy: ARC courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: The alignment of the stars at Marie Mancini's birth warned that although she would be gifted at divination, she was destined to disgrace her family. Ignoring the dark warnings of his sister and astrologers, Cardinal Mazarin brings his niece to the French court, where the forbidden occult arts thrive in secret. In France, Marie learns her uncle has become the power behind the throne by using her sister Olympia to hold the Sun King, Louis XIV, in thrall.
Desperate to avoid her mother's dying wish that she spend her life in a convent, Marie burns her grimoire, trading Italian superstitions for polite sophistication. But as her star rises, King Louis becomes enchanted by Marie's charm. Sensing a chance to grasp even greater glory, Cardinal Mazarin pits the sisters against each other, showering Marie with diamonds and silks in exchange for bending King Louis to his will.
Disgusted by Mazarin's ruthlessness, Marie rebels. She sacrifices everything, but exposing Mazarin's deepest secret threatens to tear France apart. When even King Louis's love fails to protect Marie, she must summon her forbidden powers of divination to shield her family, protect France, and help the Sun King fulfill his destiny.
Last year I read and adored Marci Jefferson’s Girl on the Golden Coin. When I was offered the opportunity to review her second novel, Enchantress of Paris, I couldn’t say no. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up the chance because Jefferson’s newest is wonderfully written and a must read for any fan of historical fiction!
We have good character development. When we first meet Marie Mancini, she’s a teenager on the cusp of womanhood. Her father was an Italian aristocrat who was also a well known astrologer. Marie is naive, but it’s her naiveté that makes her a breath of fresh air! You can feel her frustration at the way things are and will cheer her on as she blossoms. We have a wide array of historical figures who play a vital role including the Sun King himself, Louis XIV. He’s a bit impetuous and it’s easy to see why women clamored to him. Then there’s Marie’s family and I won’t go into detail because I want you to form your own opinions about them, but I admit to disliking a few of them. And if you are ever confused about the characters and their relationship to Marie, Jefferson provides a handy who’s who guide at the beginning of the book.
Narrative is first person via Marie and it makes a lot of sense since this is her story. As a narrator, she’s trustworthy and will tug at your heart. There’s a particular heart wrenching scene involving her sister, Victoire, and you’ll want to hug your own siblings afterwards. Marie is very comfortable in her storytelling and in her own skin. She’s very aware of who she is and what she wants. As with Girl on the Golden Coin, the language is a bit modern, but it doesn’t take away from the narrative. Also, Jefferson uses a few foreign words peppered throughout the novel and it is very easy to imagine a character using an accent.
What I really enjoyed about Enchantress of Paris was the blossoming of Marie. I loved watching her become a confident woman who ultimately stole the prize: the love of a king. I also liked how she didn’t care for the horoscope that her father drew. She didn’t let that foretelling stop her from becoming outspoken and courageous. Furthermore, I liked seeing Louis and Marie’s relationship flourish. Several times, Marie and her sister Olympia’s relationship resembles a bit like Mary / Anne Boleyn’s with regards to trying to catch the eye of a King.
If you ever imagined yourself a member of court or wishing you had been born to the aristocracy at the height of kingships, reading Jefferson’s Enchantress of Paris will quickly change your mind. Here we are privy to the shenanigans of members within Marie’s own family and we see a firsthand account of what conspirators at court will do to get their way. It definitely turns one off from the dream of having had that life of privilege. Reading about Marie’s journey will make you sad for her and the life of women before us and how they were treated as property (which in some parts of the world, things haven’t changed). I really like that Jefferson gives us a woman who changes her destiny.
If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I highly recommend Marci Jefferson’s Enchantress of Paris. Readers of Girl on the Golden Coin will recognize a few characters from that book. Take note, they make a cameo experience and it’s fun to put things into a timeline and wonder if what Jefferson writes happened really did. In Girl on the Golden Coin, I walked away with a crush on Charles II; with Enchantress, I only felt sorry for Louis XIV and left me wondering what would history look like had he been allowed to marry Marie.
ETA: You can follow Marci Jefferson’s blog tour here, where you can win your own copy of Enchantress of Paris and get to know more about Marci and her books!
I have a copy of Marci Jefferson’s Enchantress of Paris up for grabs courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books. US only & no POB’s. Any incomplete task will be disqualified (therefore don’t say you completed a section when you didn’t. 😉 ) Giveaway ends on Tuesday, August 4th at Midnight MDT (2 am EDT). Good luck!