Called “fast-paced” (Kirkus Reviews) and “highly engrossing” (Publishers Weekly), this is the behind-the-scenes story of the world’s most famous palace.
The story of Versailles is one of high historical drama mixed with the high camp and glamour of the European courts, all in an iconic home for the French arts. The palace itself has been radically altered since 1789. Versailles sets out to rediscover what is now a vanished world: a great center of power and, for thousands, a home both grand and squalid.
Using the latest historical research, Spawforth offers the first full account of Versailles in English in over thirty years. He probes the conventional picture of this “perpetual house party” and gives full weight to the darker side: not just the mounting discomfort of the aging palace but also the intrigue and status anxiety of its aristocrats, as well as the changing place of Versailles in France’s national identity since 1789.
Many books have told the stories of the royals and artists living in Versailles, but this is the first to turn its focus on the palace itself—from architecture to politics to scandal to restoration.
“An illuminating portrait.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Sparkling, elegant prose…. Spawforth brings the palace to glorious life.” —Caroline Weber, author of Queen of Fashion
“Irresistible to anyone interested in the interactions of power, sexuality, and topography.” —Philip Mansel, author of Paris Between Empires