The Orange Trees of Versailles

I must be getting impatient with youth fiction books.

This one sounded great in the Chinaberry write up (“this delightful historical novel delves into the delicate complexities of royal life and vibrantly brings to life the day-to-day goings on in 17th century France. A truly great read!”): a 14-year-old girl with an excellent nose and memory for smells gets appointed to make perfumes for King Louis XIV’s mistress the Marquise de Montespan. Said girl discovers a plot to poison the queen, foils said plot (entirely on her own — is it really believable that a respected doctor would listen to 1) a new servant and 2) a youngish girl, even if her sense of smell is impeccable??), and then ends up happily ever after in the queen’s service while said marquise gets shunted off to the side.

Could have been a great book. Maybe something was lost in the translation — Annie Pietri is French — but whatever the reason, it really didn’t grab my attention. Nothing about the book. Not even the pages and pages and pages and pages of smells that were described. Not even the murder plot (there was absolutely no suspense or build up). Not even the “oh wait the king knew my dead mother so we can all live happily ever after” ending.

Sigh. I guess the point of catalog write ups is to make you want to buy a book, even if it isn’t all that great. Thank heavens for libraries.


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