Guest Post (Giveaway) Karleen Koen: Before Versailles

A favorite read of mine for 2011 was Karleen Koen’s Before Versailles (review) and it is now available in paperback from Sourcebooks. (See below for instructions on how to enter the giveaway courtesy of Sourcebooks!)

Before Versailles
September 2012 paperback from Sourcebooks

Louis XIV is one of the best-known monarchs ever to grace the French throne. But what was he like as a young man—the man before Versailles?

After the death of his prime minister, Cardinal Mazarin, twenty-two-year-old Louis steps into governing France. He’s still a young man, but one who, as king, willfully takes everything he can get—including his brother’s wife. As the love affair between Louis and Princess Henriette burns, it sets the kingdom on the road toward unmistakable scandal and conflict with the Vatican. Every woman wants him. He must face what he is willing to sacrifice for love.

But there are other problems lurking outside the chateau of Fontainebleau: a boy in an iron mask has been seen in the woods, and the king’s finance minister, Nicolas Fouquet, has proven to be more powerful than Louis ever thought—a man who could make a great ally or become a dangerous foe . . .

Meticulously researched and vividly brought to life by the gorgeous prose of Karleen Koen, Before Versailles dares to explore the forces that shaped an iconic king and determined the fate of an empire.
Please welcome author Karleen Koen to Burton Book Review, as I asked Karleen to share her thoughts on one of her favorite or most inspiring characters from Before Versailles, asking which one spoke to her the most and who was the most fun to write scenes for:

Surprisingly, the character in Before Versailles who was easiest to write scenes for was Louis XIV. I didn’t expect that. I expected that character to be either Princess Henriette or Louise de la Baume le Blanc (one of whom I thought would run the story). But as I imagined Louis and the very real problems he faced when he was 22, and what he might have been feeling, I found I could sink into a young man who was gallant and honorable and a bit idealistic–and I found that I really, really liked the sinking. 
It takes some mind maneuvering to move from all the known facts about an actual historical character and make that character real, particularly an icon like Louis XIV. Before Versailles is likely the only book I’ll ever write where the main character actually existed. There’s much more room to breathe when characters are completely fictional, and I usually surround fictional characters with ones who actually existed, but the actuals are on the second level of the story. But Louis really was ardent, gallant, brave, and disciplined, and he faced enormous challenges. At 22, he was the prince in the fairy tales, and that was fun to realize, imagine, and write.
Other characters who came easily to me were Choisy, the cross dresser (actually existed) and the Comte de Guiche, who also actually existed. I envisioned Guiche as flip and cool and cruel. I love any scene Guiche is in. Oddly enough, my little heroine, Louise, was the hardest one to write because historically, she is the most unnuanced. She’s almost too good to be true. Her quest for the boy in the iron mask helped me define her, but it was only in the last edits–novel bought, to be published, working with an editor’s input–that I finally felt able to define her. 
Other characters for whom the writing just slipped out without much effort on my part were the old Duchess de Chevreuse, a key player in the times of Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu,  and the musketeer, Cinq Mars, completely fictional, a crusty, indomitable old soldier for whom I felt enormous empathy. I don’t know why the guys held my imagination so strongly in Before Versailles, but they did
Karleen Koen ( is the New York Times bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly, Now Face to Face, and Dark Angels, an Indie Next List bestseller and a BookSense pick. She lives in Houston, Texas.  Before Versailles is available in bookstores and online.
Courtesy of the publisher Sourcebooks, they are giving away Before Versailles!!

To enter, please comment here with your email address, and let me know what Louis XIV or French Revolution reads you have enjoyed! Followers of Burton Book Review in US & Canada only please. Giveaway ends September 13th 2012.



Filed under 2011 Releases, Author Post, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV

14 responses to “Guest Post (Giveaway) Karleen Koen: Before Versailles

  1. Thank you for the giveaway and author post….I would love to win a copy of Before Versailles.joannemccabe9 (at) cox (dot) netSome of my favorite books set during the time of the French Revolution are Madam Tussaud by Michelle Moran, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and The Scarlet Pimpernel by E. Orczy.

  2. I think it's always cool to see how who you think is going to tell a story or be the vehicle for telling a story can change throughout the book writing process. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and let whoever speaks to you the most speak 🙂 Great post, Karleen!As for favorite revolution read, the last great one that I read was also Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. I didn't realize that Madame Tussaud was a real person and it was interesting to see the revolution through her eyes. abookishaffair(at)gmail(dot)com

  3. Hey Karen, love your books! Any historical fiction during the French Revolution and English Civil war are always at the top of my list. I also have a thing for stories in ancient rome. Best,Tiffanykohlert at mail dot gvsu dot edu

  4. To Dance With Kings by Rosalind Laker was set during the reign of Louis XIV, and I enjoyed it. Am anxious to read more of this period. Enjoyed the other Karleen Koen novels I've read. Thanks for the giveaway.lcbrower40(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. I read Madame Tussaud by michelle Moran. I really enjoyed reading about the revolution through a woman's eyes and learning about a real person during that time. Thanks for the giveaway!lafra86 at gmail dot com

  6. Jen

    I have not read much about the French Revolution but I would like to read

  7. So sorry that I can't remember any French Revolution novels I've enjoyed. However, I do remember reading Through A Glass Darkly long ago, and being very impressed with the story, the dialogue, the narration and the sheer scope of the novel. Great work. Enjoyed it so much, and I vaguely (sorry, not meant as an insult, but I've been reading for 40 years!) reading the sequel – though I can't remember the name of it. :)wandasissleatyahoodotcom

  8. The French Revolution is always a great place for a story. I'm sure people at the time thought the world was ending around them. A favorite all time book about that period would be The Scarlet Pimpernel which I read when I was a mere slip of a lad. Thanks.carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  9. I have never read a book about this period in history but would love to win this book to kick start meThanks

  10. I am currently reading The Queens Confession by Victoria Holt. I am enjoying seeing Marie Antoinette from her point of view. I have also read all of Ms. Koen's books thus far. I cannot wait to read Before Versailles. Winning it will make it that much more enjoyable!!

  11. email-natashakumar7@gmail.comOne of my favorites ofcourse is Keon she really made me fall in love with her characters and this genre of books! , so I just could not stop myself from all reading her books. I suggest reading these : mistress of the revolution and For the King by catherine delors-its also very captivating and you realy fall into the story until the very end . I say I prefer For the king first to read before the other one.

  12. I don't think I've read any but I would love to read this!Margaretsingitm(at)hotmail(dot)com

  13. Congrats to our winner!

  14. Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran was very good. I would love to read this. It sounds like a book I would enjoy!mittens0831 at aol dot com

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