Monday, August 11, 2008
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Jeanne Dremont lives in the shadow of the palace of Versailles. As she lays giving birth to her daughter, a group of drunken young noblemen make their way into her home and witness the birth of her daughter, Marguerite. One picks up the baby and promises to return to her one day. Jeanne believes this is pure destiny. She is certain that Marguerite will one day belong to him. When Marguerite comes of age, the young nobleman returns and Jeanne arranges for her to become his mistress. But the country is plagued by religious turmoil and he is forced to flee the country without Marguerite. Marguerite soon meets and marries Laurent, an architect to the King. She bears him a daughter named Jasmin.
Laurent loves Jasmin, his only child, and there is nothing that he can deny her. Raised in the proximity to the palace, Jasmin ultimately meets the new young King of France. A mutual friendship develops between them. Their closeness comes to the attention of the Deputy Ruler. He forces her to marry a dishonored courtier named Sabatin. e two are banished from court and from Versaille to a secluded country home.
Sabatin is a dark, morose, angry man who blames Jasmin. He is a cruel man who treats her badly and rapes her regularly. Even worse, he keeps her in seclusion, forbiddng any contact between Jasmin and her parents. Years pass and in desperation, Marguerite and Laurent send a painter to her home in the country. Love soon blossoms. The painter cannot stay forever, and he soon must part. Unbeknownst to him, Jasmin is pregnant. Fearful for the life of the baby she carries, she keeps the pregnancy secret from Sabatin. When Jasmin gives birth to a daughter, she sends the child to a a family who lives in the country a comfortable distance away.
Violette grows into a beautiful young woman, angry at Jasmin for depriving her of a more prominent life. Sabatin dies and Jasmin rushes to reclaim her daughter, but Violette has run away from home. Jasmin seeks her daughter, but never finds her. Years thereafter, Jasmin’s banishment is lifted and she is permitted to return to Versaille once more where she finally reunites with her lost daughter, now a woman grown.
Violette has not led an easy life. After a trail of abuse, she became mistress to the king and bore him a child. The King arranged for her to marry an Austrian nobleman, but her new husband refused to accept her baby who she has named Rose. As a last resort, Violette seeks out her mother to hand the child over to her to raise.
Under the loving care of her grandmother, Rose lives a contented life. At the tender age of sixteen, she is commanded to become lady-in-waiting to the new queen, Marie Antoinette. She learns that it was her late father who arranged this for her. When she learns the secret of her true parentage, she blames her grandmother.
Four generations of women live and dance in the shadow of the palace of Versailles. It is an intricately told tale starting with the creation and splendors of the French court and culminating with the turbulence of the French Revolution. The novel is a testament to historical detail and a tribute to the brilliance of author, Rosalind Laker.