#241 ~ The French Mistress

The French Mistress: A Novel of the Duchess of Portsmouth and King Charles II by Susan Halloway Scott

Published by: Penguin Group

Published on: July 2009

Page Count: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: eBook read on my Kindle

Availability: paperback, eBook,

My Review Louise’s father was of noble birth, but his political affiliations caused him to lose favor with the  French crown, diminishing the family finances and the opportunities available to his children.  Scraping together the funds to create a modest wardrobe for her, they sent Louise to King Louis XIV’s court in hopes of her finding a husband that would advance her and provide opportunities for her family as well.  Raised as a proper Catholic girl, she was a naive addition to the household of Henrietta, Duchess D’Orlean.  Fortunately Louise finds the favor of her Madame, sister to King Charles II of England and sister-in-law to Louis XIV.  This early placement in the French court links her to her destiny.

  • This novel was the February selection of my Historical Fiction Lovers book club.  I was excited to get an eBook copy of it because I’ve wanted to read Susan Holloway Scott for almost as long as I’ve started reading historical fiction.
  • I enjoyed the juxtaposition between the monarchs and their respective courts.
  • For more than half of the book, Louise holds on tightly to her virginity.  Knowing that she is to become Charles II’s mistress from the very beginning, there was no question as to whether she would remain a virgin throughout the book.  I think I was more impatient for her to give it up than the king was.  This goes hand in hand with my other chief complaint – the novel’s focus.
  • I would have preferred a novel about the Duchess D’Orlean or a novel about Louise and Charles II.  This was a novel about Louise and Henrietta and then Louise and Charles.  That is what made this novel seem long and why what would be the most interesting parts of Louise and Charles’ relationship were rushed through.  Had this been a novel about Henrietta and Louise was a minor character, it would have been fantastic.  Had this novel been about Charles and Louise’s relationship alone, it would have also been a great read.  Instead, we got a play by play of Louise’s life with Henrietta and her last days as a virgin, but the political and emotional upheaval at the end of Charles’ life were told in retrospect.  Even Louise’s family’s reaction to her move to England was spoken of as an afterthought.  Those are the things that I would have cared to read about in more depth.

My Final Thoughts

Although The French Mistress was a missed opportunity for me from a historical standpoint, I enjoyed Scott’s writing overall.  I would try another one of her novels.  Have you enjoyed one of Scott’s novels?  If so, which would you recommend?

Other Voices

Reading Adventures


  • At 2010.03.12 09:37, Lezlie said:

    The one Scott book I read (The Duchess, I think it was called) struck me more like a romance novel than an historical. That’s not a bad thing! And it’s not surprising since Scott got her start as a romance novelist under the name Miranda Jarrett. (Her Harlequin Historicals that I read were really good!) I just wanted more “historical”, and that’s more about my taste than it is about her books.


    • At 2010.03.12 10:37, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      Sorry this wasn’t that great for you, but you made me laugh when you said you were more anxious for Louise to “give it up” than the king was!

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      • At 2010.03.12 13:18, Lisa said:

        ” I think I was more impatient for her to give it up than the king was.” Too funny!

        • At 2010.03.13 12:51, Meghan said:

          I was going to say pretty much what Lezlie says – I was familiar with Susan Holloway Scott as a romance author first. I think I’ve only read The Duchess, but I really enjoyed that because I’d just learned all about the main character for school and it was fun to see how she was portrayed in fiction. I like her romances, too. I’m interested to see how she tackles a real historical fiction novel but it looks like this isn’t the one to start with!

          • At 2010.03.15 01:31, jillian said:

            I have an award for you on my blog 🙂

            • At 2010.03.15 12:10, bookworm said:

              I wonder if i’d like this one. I havent read this author before.

              (Required, will not be published)

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