Life Style

Versailles, land of youth novels



Kings and princesses have not finished making children dream. If more than 13,000 of them have visited the Palace of Versailles with their class since the beginning of the year, thousands of others travel there in their imagination through the many books which take the palace as a setting.

Most of the novels, aimed at preteen girls, adopt the point of view of high-ranking personalities. The Alleys of Versailles (1), which has just been released, depicts young ladies from the nobility, who have come to learn good manners at the Court of the Sun King.

Great bookstore success, the series Elisabeth, Princess at Versailles (2) follows in the footsteps of Louis XVI’s little sister. Theft of a jewel, abandoned baby or curse around a dancer, the 11-year-old girl solves mysteries with the fearlessness of modern heroines. Enough to seduce more than one and a half million readers since 2015!

The point of view of a family of peasants

In Scoop at Versailles (3), the new saga by Annie Pietri, author of Orange trees of Versailles (three volumes, 300,000 copies sold since 2000 by Bayard jeunesse), the investigations are carried out by an unlikely duo formed by Louise-Françoise de Bourbon, daughter of Louis XIV, and Gaspard, a young journalist from Curious Mercury.

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Launched in 2021, the collection Versailles is ours! (4) stands out by adopting the point of view of a sibling of peasants, fleeing the misery of the Cevennes countryside. The novelist Anne-Marie Desplat-Duc, author of numerous historical novels including The Doves of the Sun King (14 volumes published and a fifteenth one planned for May), describes the small trades that gravitate around the Maison du Roi: fountain workers, floor cleaners, laundry workers… No question, however, of writing a social novel: she hopes above all “bring escape to young readers and teach them things without them realizing it”.

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► Our opinion

Historical novels make their honey of the details of daily life in the time of Louis XIV or Louis XVI, from descriptions of extravagant hairstyles to the games or dishes enjoyed at the time. While some authors care about accuracy, others overlook approximations that make college professors jump. Their romantic adventures, however, help to give a taste for history and sometimes even arouse vocations, as Anne-Marie Desplat-Duc recounts, thanked several times in salons by master’s students!

(1) by Isabelle Fabula, Fleurus, 176 p., €12.90, from 8 years old.

(2) by Annie Jay, 21 volumes, including A baby fallen from the sky, published in January, Albin Michel youth, 144 p., €7.50, from 8 years old.

(3) 2 volumes, Gallimard jeunesse, 128 p., €9.90, from 8 years old.

(4) 4 volumes, Flammarion jeunesse, 128 p., €10, from 9 years old.

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