Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas
The novel of Louise de la Valliere by Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas novel of Louise de la Valliere evokes a gentle and idyllic time of beauty at the court of the Sun King, Louis XIV. Nobility of spirit, gentility, gallantry and sentimentality seem to jump from the pages of this classic. The style, the exuberance, the humour and wit and descriptions of life at Fontainebleau and during the seventeenth century in France combine to make the story a work of art. So creative and endearing are the frolics of the characters and the amusements, poetic style and form of the novel that it certainly is a masterpiece of creativity. I loved reading this book as it conjures up another world of the gentility and also beauty of life. In this the king was quite adept.
An array of fascinating characters enlighten the story – from the King who falls in love with Louise de la Valliere, the musketeers, d’Artagnon, Aramis, Porthos and the Count of Bragelonne, son of Athos, who is sensitive and noble of spirit who has wished to marry Louise de la Valliere.
Humorous episodes are recounted as when Porthos is taken to a grocer’s country seat by d’Artagnon on their travels to Fontainebleau. Towards the end of the novel is a very descriptive scene of Charles II at Hampton Court where the Count of Bragelonne has been residing. Madame Henriette (Princess Henriette d’Angleterre) with her enduring vivacity and brightness, Montalais, a friend of Louise de la Valliere and the Count of Guiche who falls in love with Madame all play a fascinating role in the story. Also the courtiers who surround the king including Saint Aignan and Malicorne who had a canny way of knowing what would be to the king’s liking, as for example, when he advises people of the king’s party and a painter to arrive late so as to give Louise de la Valliere and the king a few moments together before the painting of a portrait of Louise de la Valliere. Colbert and Fouquet also make appearances in the novel as in a wonderful stage play.
The descriptions given of Fouquet are quite admirable and he seemed to be a popular and amenable character who falls in love with the Marquise de Plessie-Belliere who also assists him in raising money for the king by selling her jewellery. This scene is set earlier in the novel and Fouquet at times is also shown to be quite vulnerable in many respects. This, because of demands which are made of him by Colbert, as for example, raising money for the king and putting on an entertainment for the king and also by being advised by Aramis to send a letter to Louise de la Valliere believing at the time that the king was in love with Madame (Princess Henriette.) Louise de la Valliere was in the entourage of the court of Madame.
The scenes of bathing in the River Seine during the peak of the summer months where Madame is compared to a beautiful goddess from antiquity and the beautiful descriptions of settings at Fontainebleau, including a wonderful old historic oak tree cast a magic spell over the novel. At times I can almost be reminded of “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” such is the evocative and enduring beauty of this story. This book is indeed worth reading for people who love reading of the era of the Sun King. It is quite spell binding and riveting. Almost as though every word on the page is a delightful gift from the master craftsman. Alexandre Dumas has written a worthy novel of the early years of the king’s court and I now look forward to reading the sequel “The Man in the Iron Mask.” I will also look at the previous book of the series “The Count of Bragelonne.”