Q&A with Sally Christie|The Rivals of Versailles 

Here it is, the long awaited Q&A with the fabulous Sally Christie!

1. Why did you choose to write this book during this era?

The story of the Mailly Nesle sisters – The Sisters of Versailles, the first book in the trilogy – chose me, and from there we developed the idea of a trilogy. I was delighted (and surprised!) to find out that neither the Marquise de Pompadour nor the Comtesse du Barry (subjects of the next two books in the trilogy) had been the subject of any English fiction. 

2. Was it difficult for you to write in the dialect of that time?

Not particularly. I read a lot of 18th century letters while doing research for the books, and what struck me the most was how the writers sounded. Just like us. Certainly there were many occasions when a more formal style was called for, but when they were writing (and, one can only presume, talking) to their friends, they sounded far more modern than we might expect: gossipy, funny, humorous, sly, and insightful.

3. The story is told through the multiple perspectives of Louis’s mistresses. Why do you believe he had so many mistresses at this point in history?

Because he could! In Sisters, we got to see some of Louis’s qualms (both moral and religious) as he moved tentatively into his first extra-marital relationships and became an unfaithful husband. By the time Pompadour came on the scene, he had largely moved beyond those questions, and was rapidly turning into a man with not a single constraint, either financial or moral, placed on his pursuit of women. 

Pompadour aided him in that transformation, and in modern speak we might say she enabled him.

And here’s an interesting question: Would more men act like Louis XV did, if all constraints were removed?

4. What is your favourite point of view to write in? (e.g. third person, first person)

I do enjoy the first person; it’s so fun to get inside a character’s head and witness how she is seeing events unfold. The constraint of first person—inability to comment on things not witnessed, for example, or speaking of things they wouldn’t know about—is nicely overcome when you have more than one character’s point of view to work with.


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