“The French Mistress”: The Interview

French.mistress.front cover

Wench Loretta Chase interviews Wench Susan Holloway Scott

Loretta: The French Mistress (now in bookstores!) completes Susan Holloway Scott’s beautiful trio of books about King Charles II’s most famous mistresses.  This time we enter the world of Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, who walked a tightrope between two kings–Charles II and Louis IV of France–and the cultures and intrigues of their very different courts.  Louise, too, is different.  She couldn’t be less like either of her great rivals, the Countess of Castlemaine or Nell Gwyn, or less well-liked.  Yet as Susan brings her to life, Louise, the most reviled of Charles II’s mistresses, is the heroine of an amazing, compelling story.  It's a remarkable book! 

To begin, please tell us a bit about The French Mistress.

Susan:The French Mistress
is based on the fascinating life of Louise de Keroualle (1649-1734.) 
The daughter of provincial French nobility, Louise was a young
maid-of-honor to the Duchesse d’Orleans when she caught the roving eye
of the duchess’s brother, King Charles II. (Here's the full portrait of her by Sir Peter Lely that's used on the cover.)  The French king, Louis XIV,
noticed Charles’s interest, and sent Louise to London as a “gift.” Once
there, 462px-Lely_Kéroualle_1671 Louise’s duty was to become the English king’s mistress, and
from his bed act as a spy/agent for France. Though hardly the
respectable marriage her parents desired, Louise had no choice but to
obey, and balance on this diplomatic tightrope between the two  kings, over a cast of scheming rivals and political enemies.  For the next  fourteen
years, Louise succeeded beyond everyone’s expectations.  Not only did
she find the love of her life in the charming Charles, but she also
earned the lasting admiration of Louis as well, and she was
well rewarded with riches, titles, estates, and power. In England, she
was made Duchess of Portsmouth, and her son became the Duke of Richmond
and Lennox (for more about him, see my earlier WordWenches blog), while in France, she was made Duchesse d'Abuginy.

LC: The
three women with whom King Charles II had long relationships were
so different.  Barbara Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, bears no
resemblance to actress Nell Gwyn, who couldn’t be less like Louise. 
Clearly, the king truly was attracted to and sought something different
from each of these women.  What in particular was it about Louise that
captured and held his affection for so long?

SHS: Louise wasn’t
a wanton sensualist like Barbara, nor was she as quick-witted and
entertaining as the earthy Nell.  Louise was a lady and a French one
at that, with an inborn style and presence that dazzled Charles (shown below, to the right.) 
Even as he delighted in her plump figure and baby-faced beauty, it was
her elegance and grace that he loved.  He knew she was a spy, and he
didn’t care.  In many ways, Louise was his ideal, a seductively perfect
companion and hostess in her exquisitely decorated rooms in the
palace.  No matter how treacherous the court intrigues became around
Charles, he always found solace with Louise, and, quite possibly, the
tempting, forbidden solace (for the head of the Anglican Church) of her
Catholic faith. 

LC: Of the three mistresses you’ve dealt with so far, I found Louise the most enigmatic.  She’s an isolated  foreigner,
as the others are not.  She seemed to have much more to lose than Nell
or Barbara.  Given all the secrecy and double-dealing (hers and
others’), Louise’s foreignness and isolation, she Charles_II_(1670s)Lely must have been a most
elusive subject.  What helped you develop a sense who she was?

SHS: I knew something of Louise after writing my previous two books about her rival-mistresses (Barbara Palmer in Royal Harlot and Nell Gwyn in The King’s Favorite),
and though some of Nell’s witty attacks had made me feel a little sorry
for Louise, it wasn’t until I’d begun researching her background in
France that I developed an empathy with her. 

I hadn’t realized
how Louise spent her entire life as an outsider.  As a girl, she’d had
a difficult relationship with her parents, and she was too shy to make
the brilliant marriage that they desired. She never quite fit in at
Louis XIV’s court, and even at the height of her success as Charles’s
mistress, she had virtually no true friends at the English court. 
Realizing how tenuous her position could be (unlike both Barbara and
Nell, who blithely seemed to assume there’d always be a tomorrow),
Louise was constantly searching for security and trying to wrangle more
favors, more gifts, to prepare for her future and for that of her one
son. The only person whom she ever seemed fully to trust was Charles.
Even so, though she loved him completely, she feared (rightly) that
he didn’t return her degree of devotion.  Learning that Louise never
married nor became romantically linked to any other man, remaining
constant to Charles’s memory for the remainder of her long life –– she
outlived Charles by fifty years! –– seems especially poignant.

LC: In The French Mistress,
you took us into the French court, showing us what life was like not
only for Louise but for Charles II’s sister, the Duchesse d’Orleans. 
For me –– and I think for many readers –– it’s an entry into another
world, and one with a decidedly dark side.  What do you think was the
greatest difference between the French and English courts, and why?

Ruiterportret_Lodewijk_XIV SHS: The
two courts were perfect mirrors of their respective kings. While Louis
and Charles bore an outward similarity in appearance(they were first
cousins, in the inbred way of 17th century royalty), the two men could
not have been more different as rulers. Louis (shown to the left)
was suspicious and wary of his subjects, and defensively made himself
into an unapproachable demi-god.  He was aloof and distant in his great
palace at Versailles, and his Court was wrapped in elaborate protocol
and rigidly observed rituals. Every moment of the day was accounted for
in exhausting detail, and he encouraged vicious rivalries and
infighting among his nobles as a way of keeping them from plotting
against him.  Behind the gilded facade, there was much that was dark
indeed, including sadism, bisexuality, and witchcraft. There were
plenty of amusements at Versailles, but very little fun.

Charles,
on the other hand, was affable and approachable, and literally embraced
his subjects of every rank. He enjoyed his people, and moved freely
among them in London, feeding the ducks in the park beside them and
attending the same public theaters and taverns for amusement as they
did.  His Court was bawdy and free-wheeling, much as he was himself,
and visitors were as likely to encounter actors and scientists as peers
in the palace.  After the rigidity of the French Court, Louise found
Whitehall shockingly informal, and she never became accustomed to the
directness of Charles’s courtiers, or their often-bawdy behavior.

LC: Like your previous historical novels, The French Mistress
beautifully recreates a time and place.  This can’t be done without
hours and hours of research.  What part of the research for this book
did you most enjoy?

SHS: My favorite part of the research for all of these books has been trying to discover the real womanMinature Louise jpg cropped who  will
become my heroine.  Louise offered a few special challenges.  First, of
course, was the fact that many of the original sources about her and
her world were in French, and 17th century French at that.  Once she
arrived in England, the research became much easier – but scarcely more
sympathetic to Louise herself. Likely because of her dual-role as a
French agent and a royal mistress, she seemed to have kept no diary or
journal, and she was always careful of what she revealed in the letters
that survive. Most of what was written about her by others was
critical, snide, or downright bitchy, with no one defending her or her
actions.  In sharp contrast to so much back-biting are the charming love-letters
that Charles wrote to Louise, full of endearments, pet names, and
concern for her health. I had to sift through all of this, sensing what
felt false and what felt real, trying to “find” the Louise to be the
centerpiece of my novel. (Here's another portrait of Louise, this time by the French artist Henri Gascars.)

LC: Like many other readers, I can’t wait to time travel with Susan Holloway Scott again.  What’s next?

473px-Catherine_(Sedley),_Countess_of_Dorchester_by_Sir_Peter_Lely SHS: My next heroine is already familiar to my readers with a good memory.  Catherine Sedley (1657-1717) most recently appeared in The King’s Favorite
as a ten-year-old girl dancing jigs in the moonlight with Nell Gwyn.  A
sixteen-year-old Catherine was also a minor character in Duchess,
the wealthy heiress that John Churchill’s parents tried to make him
marry.  (My novels aren’t a true series since each book is independent
of the others, but certain individuals do keep popping up throughout,
much as they must have done at the English Court.) Now Catherine
finally will have a book of her own, and deserving she is, too.  (That's a teenaged Catherine to the left, painted by Sir Peter Lely.) The
only daughter of poet and playwright Sir Charles Sedley, one of the
wildest of Charles II’s courtiers, Catherine grew up into a pretty wild
lady in her own right.  She was considered shamefully plain by
her contemporaries, but she was blessed with a brilliant wit and sense
of humor to compensate for her lack of beauty.  She was also rich and
well-connected, which made her much-sought-after as a wife, yet she
refused to marry and let any man take control of her life.  Instead she
insisted on scandalous independence, becoming mistress to a king
because it amused her, wife (at 39!) to a general because she loved
him, and a countess in her own right.  Look for Catherine’s adventurous
life next summer in The Countess and the King.

Thank you, Susan! For more about Susan's books and to read an excerpt from The French Mistress, visit her website at: www.susanhollowayscott.com.  

We're givng away a copy of The French Mistress to a reader who posts a reply to this blog.  Ask a question, make a comment, or simply say you'd like to be entered, and you're in.  The winner will be announced next Sunday, July 19. Good luck!

135 thoughts on ““The French Mistress”: The Interview”

  1. I’ve got my copy of THe French Mistress, but it’s fun to hear how your created your view of her. And to find out who’d next! I think I might end up liking Catherine Sedley best of all. *g*

    Reply
  2. I’ve got my copy of THe French Mistress, but it’s fun to hear how your created your view of her. And to find out who’d next! I think I might end up liking Catherine Sedley best of all. *g*

    Reply
  3. I’ve got my copy of THe French Mistress, but it’s fun to hear how your created your view of her. And to find out who’d next! I think I might end up liking Catherine Sedley best of all. *g*

    Reply
  4. I’ve got my copy of THe French Mistress, but it’s fun to hear how your created your view of her. And to find out who’d next! I think I might end up liking Catherine Sedley best of all. *g*

    Reply
  5. I’ve got my copy of THe French Mistress, but it’s fun to hear how your created your view of her. And to find out who’d next! I think I might end up liking Catherine Sedley best of all. *g*

    Reply
  6. Catherine Sedley definitely sounds interesting. I’d never heard of Sir Charles Sedley until I saw the movie “Stage Beauty”. He was definitely a character in his own right. As for the film, it is flawed but I liked it anyway and definitely recommend, if for no other reason than to see Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Charles II. It emphasizes the fop aspect a bit too much but definitely captures the fact that Charles had charmisma out the wazoo.
    Liked the comments about how different these 3 mistresses were. I think it speaks well of Charles that he clearly chose these women for who they were as individuals, not because they fit into some preconceived stereotype of how women of a certain class/nationality/whatever would be.

    Reply
  7. Catherine Sedley definitely sounds interesting. I’d never heard of Sir Charles Sedley until I saw the movie “Stage Beauty”. He was definitely a character in his own right. As for the film, it is flawed but I liked it anyway and definitely recommend, if for no other reason than to see Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Charles II. It emphasizes the fop aspect a bit too much but definitely captures the fact that Charles had charmisma out the wazoo.
    Liked the comments about how different these 3 mistresses were. I think it speaks well of Charles that he clearly chose these women for who they were as individuals, not because they fit into some preconceived stereotype of how women of a certain class/nationality/whatever would be.

    Reply
  8. Catherine Sedley definitely sounds interesting. I’d never heard of Sir Charles Sedley until I saw the movie “Stage Beauty”. He was definitely a character in his own right. As for the film, it is flawed but I liked it anyway and definitely recommend, if for no other reason than to see Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Charles II. It emphasizes the fop aspect a bit too much but definitely captures the fact that Charles had charmisma out the wazoo.
    Liked the comments about how different these 3 mistresses were. I think it speaks well of Charles that he clearly chose these women for who they were as individuals, not because they fit into some preconceived stereotype of how women of a certain class/nationality/whatever would be.

    Reply
  9. Catherine Sedley definitely sounds interesting. I’d never heard of Sir Charles Sedley until I saw the movie “Stage Beauty”. He was definitely a character in his own right. As for the film, it is flawed but I liked it anyway and definitely recommend, if for no other reason than to see Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Charles II. It emphasizes the fop aspect a bit too much but definitely captures the fact that Charles had charmisma out the wazoo.
    Liked the comments about how different these 3 mistresses were. I think it speaks well of Charles that he clearly chose these women for who they were as individuals, not because they fit into some preconceived stereotype of how women of a certain class/nationality/whatever would be.

    Reply
  10. Catherine Sedley definitely sounds interesting. I’d never heard of Sir Charles Sedley until I saw the movie “Stage Beauty”. He was definitely a character in his own right. As for the film, it is flawed but I liked it anyway and definitely recommend, if for no other reason than to see Rupert Everett’s portrayal of Charles II. It emphasizes the fop aspect a bit too much but definitely captures the fact that Charles had charmisma out the wazoo.
    Liked the comments about how different these 3 mistresses were. I think it speaks well of Charles that he clearly chose these women for who they were as individuals, not because they fit into some preconceived stereotype of how women of a certain class/nationality/whatever would be.

    Reply
  11. Susan here…
    Aly — Yes, Nell is a hard act to follow — both reading and writing. But seeing some of Nell’s notorious pranks from the point of view of Louise (often her victim) does put Nell in quite a different light!
    MJP — You will like Catherine. She’s very independent in a time when being independent wasn’t really a choice for most women, particularly ladies. But she managed quite nicely. 🙂
    Susan/DC — Isn’t “Stage Beauty” a fascinating movie? Yep, parts of it are flawed (not to mention historically very out of whack, like having Buckingham be bisexual!), but it does have the flavor of the period, much like “The Libertine” does. There have been a whole bunch of actors to play Charles in the movies — Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Sam Neil, John Malkovich (with a strange wax nose:that one made me shudder!!), and earlier, George Saunders — but none of them quite *get* him, IMHO. Not that I could suggest any actor who could, but there must be some guy out there!
    As you say, they often play him too fop-ish; many of his circle were fops, but Charles himself wasn’t. He was too athletic and energetic to be sufficiently languid, and though he liked fine clothes and understood their significance for a king, his taste in dress was very understated, preferring dark colors and a minimum of embroidary and lace. And off I go, rambling on about Charles again–! *g*

    Reply
  12. Susan here…
    Aly — Yes, Nell is a hard act to follow — both reading and writing. But seeing some of Nell’s notorious pranks from the point of view of Louise (often her victim) does put Nell in quite a different light!
    MJP — You will like Catherine. She’s very independent in a time when being independent wasn’t really a choice for most women, particularly ladies. But she managed quite nicely. 🙂
    Susan/DC — Isn’t “Stage Beauty” a fascinating movie? Yep, parts of it are flawed (not to mention historically very out of whack, like having Buckingham be bisexual!), but it does have the flavor of the period, much like “The Libertine” does. There have been a whole bunch of actors to play Charles in the movies — Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Sam Neil, John Malkovich (with a strange wax nose:that one made me shudder!!), and earlier, George Saunders — but none of them quite *get* him, IMHO. Not that I could suggest any actor who could, but there must be some guy out there!
    As you say, they often play him too fop-ish; many of his circle were fops, but Charles himself wasn’t. He was too athletic and energetic to be sufficiently languid, and though he liked fine clothes and understood their significance for a king, his taste in dress was very understated, preferring dark colors and a minimum of embroidary and lace. And off I go, rambling on about Charles again–! *g*

    Reply
  13. Susan here…
    Aly — Yes, Nell is a hard act to follow — both reading and writing. But seeing some of Nell’s notorious pranks from the point of view of Louise (often her victim) does put Nell in quite a different light!
    MJP — You will like Catherine. She’s very independent in a time when being independent wasn’t really a choice for most women, particularly ladies. But she managed quite nicely. 🙂
    Susan/DC — Isn’t “Stage Beauty” a fascinating movie? Yep, parts of it are flawed (not to mention historically very out of whack, like having Buckingham be bisexual!), but it does have the flavor of the period, much like “The Libertine” does. There have been a whole bunch of actors to play Charles in the movies — Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Sam Neil, John Malkovich (with a strange wax nose:that one made me shudder!!), and earlier, George Saunders — but none of them quite *get* him, IMHO. Not that I could suggest any actor who could, but there must be some guy out there!
    As you say, they often play him too fop-ish; many of his circle were fops, but Charles himself wasn’t. He was too athletic and energetic to be sufficiently languid, and though he liked fine clothes and understood their significance for a king, his taste in dress was very understated, preferring dark colors and a minimum of embroidary and lace. And off I go, rambling on about Charles again–! *g*

    Reply
  14. Susan here…
    Aly — Yes, Nell is a hard act to follow — both reading and writing. But seeing some of Nell’s notorious pranks from the point of view of Louise (often her victim) does put Nell in quite a different light!
    MJP — You will like Catherine. She’s very independent in a time when being independent wasn’t really a choice for most women, particularly ladies. But she managed quite nicely. 🙂
    Susan/DC — Isn’t “Stage Beauty” a fascinating movie? Yep, parts of it are flawed (not to mention historically very out of whack, like having Buckingham be bisexual!), but it does have the flavor of the period, much like “The Libertine” does. There have been a whole bunch of actors to play Charles in the movies — Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Sam Neil, John Malkovich (with a strange wax nose:that one made me shudder!!), and earlier, George Saunders — but none of them quite *get* him, IMHO. Not that I could suggest any actor who could, but there must be some guy out there!
    As you say, they often play him too fop-ish; many of his circle were fops, but Charles himself wasn’t. He was too athletic and energetic to be sufficiently languid, and though he liked fine clothes and understood their significance for a king, his taste in dress was very understated, preferring dark colors and a minimum of embroidary and lace. And off I go, rambling on about Charles again–! *g*

    Reply
  15. Susan here…
    Aly — Yes, Nell is a hard act to follow — both reading and writing. But seeing some of Nell’s notorious pranks from the point of view of Louise (often her victim) does put Nell in quite a different light!
    MJP — You will like Catherine. She’s very independent in a time when being independent wasn’t really a choice for most women, particularly ladies. But she managed quite nicely. 🙂
    Susan/DC — Isn’t “Stage Beauty” a fascinating movie? Yep, parts of it are flawed (not to mention historically very out of whack, like having Buckingham be bisexual!), but it does have the flavor of the period, much like “The Libertine” does. There have been a whole bunch of actors to play Charles in the movies — Rupert Everett, Rufus Sewell, Sam Neil, John Malkovich (with a strange wax nose:that one made me shudder!!), and earlier, George Saunders — but none of them quite *get* him, IMHO. Not that I could suggest any actor who could, but there must be some guy out there!
    As you say, they often play him too fop-ish; many of his circle were fops, but Charles himself wasn’t. He was too athletic and energetic to be sufficiently languid, and though he liked fine clothes and understood their significance for a king, his taste in dress was very understated, preferring dark colors and a minimum of embroidary and lace. And off I go, rambling on about Charles again–! *g*

    Reply
  16. I really enjoyed your analysis of the contrasts between the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. Both men are fascinating studies for completely opposite reasons. I can’t wait to get started reading about the woman who linked them together!
    Did any of Louise’s “spy” work result in valuable information for Louis, or was she so in love with Charles that she couldn’t bear to betray him?
    I can’t imagine how charming and seductive Charles must have been!

    Reply
  17. I really enjoyed your analysis of the contrasts between the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. Both men are fascinating studies for completely opposite reasons. I can’t wait to get started reading about the woman who linked them together!
    Did any of Louise’s “spy” work result in valuable information for Louis, or was she so in love with Charles that she couldn’t bear to betray him?
    I can’t imagine how charming and seductive Charles must have been!

    Reply
  18. I really enjoyed your analysis of the contrasts between the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. Both men are fascinating studies for completely opposite reasons. I can’t wait to get started reading about the woman who linked them together!
    Did any of Louise’s “spy” work result in valuable information for Louis, or was she so in love with Charles that she couldn’t bear to betray him?
    I can’t imagine how charming and seductive Charles must have been!

    Reply
  19. I really enjoyed your analysis of the contrasts between the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. Both men are fascinating studies for completely opposite reasons. I can’t wait to get started reading about the woman who linked them together!
    Did any of Louise’s “spy” work result in valuable information for Louis, or was she so in love with Charles that she couldn’t bear to betray him?
    I can’t imagine how charming and seductive Charles must have been!

    Reply
  20. I really enjoyed your analysis of the contrasts between the courts of Louis XIV and Charles II. Both men are fascinating studies for completely opposite reasons. I can’t wait to get started reading about the woman who linked them together!
    Did any of Louise’s “spy” work result in valuable information for Louis, or was she so in love with Charles that she couldn’t bear to betray him?
    I can’t imagine how charming and seductive Charles must have been!

    Reply
  21. Susan, I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of research you’ve done for this trio of books. To take that material and mold it into a story–in the first person, no less–is nothing short of a miracle. You bring each mistress alive with warmth and authenticity. I wonder what they would say if they could read your books? I’ll bet they’d wonder how you could know their most inner thoughts! *g*

    Reply
  22. Susan, I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of research you’ve done for this trio of books. To take that material and mold it into a story–in the first person, no less–is nothing short of a miracle. You bring each mistress alive with warmth and authenticity. I wonder what they would say if they could read your books? I’ll bet they’d wonder how you could know their most inner thoughts! *g*

    Reply
  23. Susan, I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of research you’ve done for this trio of books. To take that material and mold it into a story–in the first person, no less–is nothing short of a miracle. You bring each mistress alive with warmth and authenticity. I wonder what they would say if they could read your books? I’ll bet they’d wonder how you could know their most inner thoughts! *g*

    Reply
  24. Susan, I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of research you’ve done for this trio of books. To take that material and mold it into a story–in the first person, no less–is nothing short of a miracle. You bring each mistress alive with warmth and authenticity. I wonder what they would say if they could read your books? I’ll bet they’d wonder how you could know their most inner thoughts! *g*

    Reply
  25. Susan, I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount of research you’ve done for this trio of books. To take that material and mold it into a story–in the first person, no less–is nothing short of a miracle. You bring each mistress alive with warmth and authenticity. I wonder what they would say if they could read your books? I’ll bet they’d wonder how you could know their most inner thoughts! *g*

    Reply
  26. May I put in my two cents? I loved Barbara, the Royal Harlot, and adored Nell, The King’s Favorite, but The French Mistress brought this series to a whole new level. Susan does an amazing job of taking readers into the two very different worlds of the two kings, and into Louise’s mind–as Sherrie says–in a way that feels absolutely right. I never dreamed I’d find the French court so fascinating. I wish there had been time to ask Susan a dozen more questions!

    Reply
  27. May I put in my two cents? I loved Barbara, the Royal Harlot, and adored Nell, The King’s Favorite, but The French Mistress brought this series to a whole new level. Susan does an amazing job of taking readers into the two very different worlds of the two kings, and into Louise’s mind–as Sherrie says–in a way that feels absolutely right. I never dreamed I’d find the French court so fascinating. I wish there had been time to ask Susan a dozen more questions!

    Reply
  28. May I put in my two cents? I loved Barbara, the Royal Harlot, and adored Nell, The King’s Favorite, but The French Mistress brought this series to a whole new level. Susan does an amazing job of taking readers into the two very different worlds of the two kings, and into Louise’s mind–as Sherrie says–in a way that feels absolutely right. I never dreamed I’d find the French court so fascinating. I wish there had been time to ask Susan a dozen more questions!

    Reply
  29. May I put in my two cents? I loved Barbara, the Royal Harlot, and adored Nell, The King’s Favorite, but The French Mistress brought this series to a whole new level. Susan does an amazing job of taking readers into the two very different worlds of the two kings, and into Louise’s mind–as Sherrie says–in a way that feels absolutely right. I never dreamed I’d find the French court so fascinating. I wish there had been time to ask Susan a dozen more questions!

    Reply
  30. May I put in my two cents? I loved Barbara, the Royal Harlot, and adored Nell, The King’s Favorite, but The French Mistress brought this series to a whole new level. Susan does an amazing job of taking readers into the two very different worlds of the two kings, and into Louise’s mind–as Sherrie says–in a way that feels absolutely right. I never dreamed I’d find the French court so fascinating. I wish there had been time to ask Susan a dozen more questions!

    Reply
  31. Susan here again:
    Christine — Good to see you here!
    As for Louise’s spy-work: I think Louis underestimated Charles’s intelligence and overestimated his libido. Charles seems to have known from the beginning why Louise was there, but he played along cheerfully because he wanted her in his bed. She held him off for months — quite a record! — and by the time finally succumbed to the royal seduction, he’d become too fond of her to let her go. I don’t think she influenced him politically much at all, or that she was able to send any serious information back to Louis — but that everyone involved understood the game being played, and went along with it.
    Over time, Louise’s true value to France was as a kind of quasi-diplomat. She certainly eased the way for various secret treaties and alliances, and served as Charles’s unofficial “hostess” in the palace, with her rooms and hospitality offering the perfect setting for recieving foreign dignitaries.
    There’s also a chance that any real important “knowledge” may have been lost over time. Certainly letters like that would have been destroyed, leaving no record for sorrowful historians three centuries later.

    Reply
  32. Susan here again:
    Christine — Good to see you here!
    As for Louise’s spy-work: I think Louis underestimated Charles’s intelligence and overestimated his libido. Charles seems to have known from the beginning why Louise was there, but he played along cheerfully because he wanted her in his bed. She held him off for months — quite a record! — and by the time finally succumbed to the royal seduction, he’d become too fond of her to let her go. I don’t think she influenced him politically much at all, or that she was able to send any serious information back to Louis — but that everyone involved understood the game being played, and went along with it.
    Over time, Louise’s true value to France was as a kind of quasi-diplomat. She certainly eased the way for various secret treaties and alliances, and served as Charles’s unofficial “hostess” in the palace, with her rooms and hospitality offering the perfect setting for recieving foreign dignitaries.
    There’s also a chance that any real important “knowledge” may have been lost over time. Certainly letters like that would have been destroyed, leaving no record for sorrowful historians three centuries later.

    Reply
  33. Susan here again:
    Christine — Good to see you here!
    As for Louise’s spy-work: I think Louis underestimated Charles’s intelligence and overestimated his libido. Charles seems to have known from the beginning why Louise was there, but he played along cheerfully because he wanted her in his bed. She held him off for months — quite a record! — and by the time finally succumbed to the royal seduction, he’d become too fond of her to let her go. I don’t think she influenced him politically much at all, or that she was able to send any serious information back to Louis — but that everyone involved understood the game being played, and went along with it.
    Over time, Louise’s true value to France was as a kind of quasi-diplomat. She certainly eased the way for various secret treaties and alliances, and served as Charles’s unofficial “hostess” in the palace, with her rooms and hospitality offering the perfect setting for recieving foreign dignitaries.
    There’s also a chance that any real important “knowledge” may have been lost over time. Certainly letters like that would have been destroyed, leaving no record for sorrowful historians three centuries later.

    Reply
  34. Susan here again:
    Christine — Good to see you here!
    As for Louise’s spy-work: I think Louis underestimated Charles’s intelligence and overestimated his libido. Charles seems to have known from the beginning why Louise was there, but he played along cheerfully because he wanted her in his bed. She held him off for months — quite a record! — and by the time finally succumbed to the royal seduction, he’d become too fond of her to let her go. I don’t think she influenced him politically much at all, or that she was able to send any serious information back to Louis — but that everyone involved understood the game being played, and went along with it.
    Over time, Louise’s true value to France was as a kind of quasi-diplomat. She certainly eased the way for various secret treaties and alliances, and served as Charles’s unofficial “hostess” in the palace, with her rooms and hospitality offering the perfect setting for recieving foreign dignitaries.
    There’s also a chance that any real important “knowledge” may have been lost over time. Certainly letters like that would have been destroyed, leaving no record for sorrowful historians three centuries later.

    Reply
  35. Susan here again:
    Christine — Good to see you here!
    As for Louise’s spy-work: I think Louis underestimated Charles’s intelligence and overestimated his libido. Charles seems to have known from the beginning why Louise was there, but he played along cheerfully because he wanted her in his bed. She held him off for months — quite a record! — and by the time finally succumbed to the royal seduction, he’d become too fond of her to let her go. I don’t think she influenced him politically much at all, or that she was able to send any serious information back to Louis — but that everyone involved understood the game being played, and went along with it.
    Over time, Louise’s true value to France was as a kind of quasi-diplomat. She certainly eased the way for various secret treaties and alliances, and served as Charles’s unofficial “hostess” in the palace, with her rooms and hospitality offering the perfect setting for recieving foreign dignitaries.
    There’s also a chance that any real important “knowledge” may have been lost over time. Certainly letters like that would have been destroyed, leaving no record for sorrowful historians three centuries later.

    Reply
  36. Many thanks for the praise, Sherrie!
    The thing that’s fascinated/bewildered me in writing these first-person novels is how each woman develops such an individual voice. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my master, writerly plan for the books, but it’s not. I havent’ a clue how it’s happening. I suppose by the time I’ve done my research, it just sort of evolves. That sounds mighty woo-woo, I know — but maybe those long-dead ladies really are trying to get their two-bits in for posterity. *g*

    Reply
  37. Many thanks for the praise, Sherrie!
    The thing that’s fascinated/bewildered me in writing these first-person novels is how each woman develops such an individual voice. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my master, writerly plan for the books, but it’s not. I havent’ a clue how it’s happening. I suppose by the time I’ve done my research, it just sort of evolves. That sounds mighty woo-woo, I know — but maybe those long-dead ladies really are trying to get their two-bits in for posterity. *g*

    Reply
  38. Many thanks for the praise, Sherrie!
    The thing that’s fascinated/bewildered me in writing these first-person novels is how each woman develops such an individual voice. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my master, writerly plan for the books, but it’s not. I havent’ a clue how it’s happening. I suppose by the time I’ve done my research, it just sort of evolves. That sounds mighty woo-woo, I know — but maybe those long-dead ladies really are trying to get their two-bits in for posterity. *g*

    Reply
  39. Many thanks for the praise, Sherrie!
    The thing that’s fascinated/bewildered me in writing these first-person novels is how each woman develops such an individual voice. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my master, writerly plan for the books, but it’s not. I havent’ a clue how it’s happening. I suppose by the time I’ve done my research, it just sort of evolves. That sounds mighty woo-woo, I know — but maybe those long-dead ladies really are trying to get their two-bits in for posterity. *g*

    Reply
  40. Many thanks for the praise, Sherrie!
    The thing that’s fascinated/bewildered me in writing these first-person novels is how each woman develops such an individual voice. I’d like to claim that it’s all part of my master, writerly plan for the books, but it’s not. I havent’ a clue how it’s happening. I suppose by the time I’ve done my research, it just sort of evolves. That sounds mighty woo-woo, I know — but maybe those long-dead ladies really are trying to get their two-bits in for posterity. *g*

    Reply
  41. Awesome post… I cannot wait to read this! 
The portraits of Louise are beautiful, though it’s hard to believe their the same woman!

    Reply
  42. Awesome post… I cannot wait to read this! 
The portraits of Louise are beautiful, though it’s hard to believe their the same woman!

    Reply
  43. Awesome post… I cannot wait to read this! 
The portraits of Louise are beautiful, though it’s hard to believe their the same woman!

    Reply
  44. Awesome post… I cannot wait to read this! 
The portraits of Louise are beautiful, though it’s hard to believe their the same woman!

    Reply
  45. Awesome post… I cannot wait to read this! 
The portraits of Louise are beautiful, though it’s hard to believe their the same woman!

    Reply
  46. Susan here again:
    Ahh, Loretta, you’re too nice! 🙂
    As it is, I’m barely containing my own gushing for Loretta’s newest, DON’T TEMPT ME. I’ve sworn to wait until Wednesday, when my review with her will be posted here — but let me say that this is one FABULOUS book, and if you’ve somehow never tried Loretta Chase, you don’t have any more excuses. This one is pretty near close to perfection.
    Until Wednesday!

    Reply
  47. Susan here again:
    Ahh, Loretta, you’re too nice! 🙂
    As it is, I’m barely containing my own gushing for Loretta’s newest, DON’T TEMPT ME. I’ve sworn to wait until Wednesday, when my review with her will be posted here — but let me say that this is one FABULOUS book, and if you’ve somehow never tried Loretta Chase, you don’t have any more excuses. This one is pretty near close to perfection.
    Until Wednesday!

    Reply
  48. Susan here again:
    Ahh, Loretta, you’re too nice! 🙂
    As it is, I’m barely containing my own gushing for Loretta’s newest, DON’T TEMPT ME. I’ve sworn to wait until Wednesday, when my review with her will be posted here — but let me say that this is one FABULOUS book, and if you’ve somehow never tried Loretta Chase, you don’t have any more excuses. This one is pretty near close to perfection.
    Until Wednesday!

    Reply
  49. Susan here again:
    Ahh, Loretta, you’re too nice! 🙂
    As it is, I’m barely containing my own gushing for Loretta’s newest, DON’T TEMPT ME. I’ve sworn to wait until Wednesday, when my review with her will be posted here — but let me say that this is one FABULOUS book, and if you’ve somehow never tried Loretta Chase, you don’t have any more excuses. This one is pretty near close to perfection.
    Until Wednesday!

    Reply
  50. Susan here again:
    Ahh, Loretta, you’re too nice! 🙂
    As it is, I’m barely containing my own gushing for Loretta’s newest, DON’T TEMPT ME. I’ve sworn to wait until Wednesday, when my review with her will be posted here — but let me say that this is one FABULOUS book, and if you’ve somehow never tried Loretta Chase, you don’t have any more excuses. This one is pretty near close to perfection.
    Until Wednesday!

    Reply
  51. What a fascinating inteview, Susan and Loretta! I’m not as familiar with this era of English history as I am with later periods, but you’ve really drawn me into your world. Can’t wait to run out and get my hands on the book . . .strong, smart, witty women of any age are immensely appealing “heroines.”

    Reply
  52. What a fascinating inteview, Susan and Loretta! I’m not as familiar with this era of English history as I am with later periods, but you’ve really drawn me into your world. Can’t wait to run out and get my hands on the book . . .strong, smart, witty women of any age are immensely appealing “heroines.”

    Reply
  53. What a fascinating inteview, Susan and Loretta! I’m not as familiar with this era of English history as I am with later periods, but you’ve really drawn me into your world. Can’t wait to run out and get my hands on the book . . .strong, smart, witty women of any age are immensely appealing “heroines.”

    Reply
  54. What a fascinating inteview, Susan and Loretta! I’m not as familiar with this era of English history as I am with later periods, but you’ve really drawn me into your world. Can’t wait to run out and get my hands on the book . . .strong, smart, witty women of any age are immensely appealing “heroines.”

    Reply
  55. What a fascinating inteview, Susan and Loretta! I’m not as familiar with this era of English history as I am with later periods, but you’ve really drawn me into your world. Can’t wait to run out and get my hands on the book . . .strong, smart, witty women of any age are immensely appealing “heroines.”

    Reply
  56. It is nice to hear about the research that goes into writing accurate historical novels. The amount of effort you put in is reflected in the quality and the feeling of the books. I look forward to reading THE FRENCH MISTRESS. I will be picking up ROYAL HARLOT and THE KING’S FAVORITE on my next trip to the book store.
    There are so many wonderful books by you Wenches, there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

    Reply
  57. It is nice to hear about the research that goes into writing accurate historical novels. The amount of effort you put in is reflected in the quality and the feeling of the books. I look forward to reading THE FRENCH MISTRESS. I will be picking up ROYAL HARLOT and THE KING’S FAVORITE on my next trip to the book store.
    There are so many wonderful books by you Wenches, there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

    Reply
  58. It is nice to hear about the research that goes into writing accurate historical novels. The amount of effort you put in is reflected in the quality and the feeling of the books. I look forward to reading THE FRENCH MISTRESS. I will be picking up ROYAL HARLOT and THE KING’S FAVORITE on my next trip to the book store.
    There are so many wonderful books by you Wenches, there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

    Reply
  59. It is nice to hear about the research that goes into writing accurate historical novels. The amount of effort you put in is reflected in the quality and the feeling of the books. I look forward to reading THE FRENCH MISTRESS. I will be picking up ROYAL HARLOT and THE KING’S FAVORITE on my next trip to the book store.
    There are so many wonderful books by you Wenches, there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

    Reply
  60. It is nice to hear about the research that goes into writing accurate historical novels. The amount of effort you put in is reflected in the quality and the feeling of the books. I look forward to reading THE FRENCH MISTRESS. I will be picking up ROYAL HARLOT and THE KING’S FAVORITE on my next trip to the book store.
    There are so many wonderful books by you Wenches, there just isn’t enough time to read them all.

    Reply
  61. I love reading how an author can take a speck of information, or the very hint of an idea and research it into such an awesome series.
    Great interview. This series already rocks. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Reply
  62. I love reading how an author can take a speck of information, or the very hint of an idea and research it into such an awesome series.
    Great interview. This series already rocks. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Reply
  63. I love reading how an author can take a speck of information, or the very hint of an idea and research it into such an awesome series.
    Great interview. This series already rocks. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Reply
  64. I love reading how an author can take a speck of information, or the very hint of an idea and research it into such an awesome series.
    Great interview. This series already rocks. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Reply
  65. I love reading how an author can take a speck of information, or the very hint of an idea and research it into such an awesome series.
    Great interview. This series already rocks. Can’t wait to read this one.

    Reply
  66. I’ve loved your other books about King Charles and his lady-friends, and I’m very interested to see how you make Lady Portsmouth sympathetic. She’s always seemed like such a drip and a prig in other books, but I guess if Charles loved her she must have had some redeeming qualities. Though you did make me enjoy Lady Castlemaine’s story which I never thought I would.

    Reply
  67. I’ve loved your other books about King Charles and his lady-friends, and I’m very interested to see how you make Lady Portsmouth sympathetic. She’s always seemed like such a drip and a prig in other books, but I guess if Charles loved her she must have had some redeeming qualities. Though you did make me enjoy Lady Castlemaine’s story which I never thought I would.

    Reply
  68. I’ve loved your other books about King Charles and his lady-friends, and I’m very interested to see how you make Lady Portsmouth sympathetic. She’s always seemed like such a drip and a prig in other books, but I guess if Charles loved her she must have had some redeeming qualities. Though you did make me enjoy Lady Castlemaine’s story which I never thought I would.

    Reply
  69. I’ve loved your other books about King Charles and his lady-friends, and I’m very interested to see how you make Lady Portsmouth sympathetic. She’s always seemed like such a drip and a prig in other books, but I guess if Charles loved her she must have had some redeeming qualities. Though you did make me enjoy Lady Castlemaine’s story which I never thought I would.

    Reply
  70. I’ve loved your other books about King Charles and his lady-friends, and I’m very interested to see how you make Lady Portsmouth sympathetic. She’s always seemed like such a drip and a prig in other books, but I guess if Charles loved her she must have had some redeeming qualities. Though you did make me enjoy Lady Castlemaine’s story which I never thought I would.

    Reply
  71. I’m so happy to see you and Loretta Chase back here. I always learn things about history that I didn’t know before.. This book sounds really good, and I’m sure Loretta’s will also. Please enter me in th e drawing for both books, thankyou!

    Reply
  72. I’m so happy to see you and Loretta Chase back here. I always learn things about history that I didn’t know before.. This book sounds really good, and I’m sure Loretta’s will also. Please enter me in th e drawing for both books, thankyou!

    Reply
  73. I’m so happy to see you and Loretta Chase back here. I always learn things about history that I didn’t know before.. This book sounds really good, and I’m sure Loretta’s will also. Please enter me in th e drawing for both books, thankyou!

    Reply
  74. I’m so happy to see you and Loretta Chase back here. I always learn things about history that I didn’t know before.. This book sounds really good, and I’m sure Loretta’s will also. Please enter me in th e drawing for both books, thankyou!

    Reply
  75. I’m so happy to see you and Loretta Chase back here. I always learn things about history that I didn’t know before.. This book sounds really good, and I’m sure Loretta’s will also. Please enter me in th e drawing for both books, thankyou!

    Reply
  76. This sounds like a great read, please include me in the drawing for this book. I read The Duchess and enjoyed it, didn’t realize you’d written so many others.

    Reply
  77. This sounds like a great read, please include me in the drawing for this book. I read The Duchess and enjoyed it, didn’t realize you’d written so many others.

    Reply
  78. This sounds like a great read, please include me in the drawing for this book. I read The Duchess and enjoyed it, didn’t realize you’d written so many others.

    Reply
  79. This sounds like a great read, please include me in the drawing for this book. I read The Duchess and enjoyed it, didn’t realize you’d written so many others.

    Reply
  80. This sounds like a great read, please include me in the drawing for this book. I read The Duchess and enjoyed it, didn’t realize you’d written so many others.

    Reply
  81. I have read Duchess and loved it! I have The King’s Favourite and Royal Harlot on my TBR pile, and I know that I will love The French Mistress! Louise seems to be pretty much glossed over in what I have read of Charles II and his mistresses. It will be great to see her step out of the shadows of the other two.

    Reply
  82. I have read Duchess and loved it! I have The King’s Favourite and Royal Harlot on my TBR pile, and I know that I will love The French Mistress! Louise seems to be pretty much glossed over in what I have read of Charles II and his mistresses. It will be great to see her step out of the shadows of the other two.

    Reply
  83. I have read Duchess and loved it! I have The King’s Favourite and Royal Harlot on my TBR pile, and I know that I will love The French Mistress! Louise seems to be pretty much glossed over in what I have read of Charles II and his mistresses. It will be great to see her step out of the shadows of the other two.

    Reply
  84. I have read Duchess and loved it! I have The King’s Favourite and Royal Harlot on my TBR pile, and I know that I will love The French Mistress! Louise seems to be pretty much glossed over in what I have read of Charles II and his mistresses. It will be great to see her step out of the shadows of the other two.

    Reply
  85. I have read Duchess and loved it! I have The King’s Favourite and Royal Harlot on my TBR pile, and I know that I will love The French Mistress! Louise seems to be pretty much glossed over in what I have read of Charles II and his mistresses. It will be great to see her step out of the shadows of the other two.

    Reply

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