This is one of the first European novels ever written. It describes life at the French court and is historically correct, even though the main character - The Princess of Cleves - is fictional. The book was probably written by Madame Lafayette, an insider at court.
This title turned up on the '1001 books you must read before you die'-list by Peter Ackroyd. I'm steadily reading my way through the list even though I have no intention of dying just yet, so started on this one. Boy, was I in for a surprise! I expected something dry and old and dusty and probably awful, but I loved it.
Once you know who is who - the first pages introduce the main characters and there's quite a list of them - the romances, intrigues and politics of court life pull you in. I especially loved the details of how to conduct social life in drafty castles - where apparently everyone visited you in your bedroom and you held court while in bed - and an inside look at the politics of how to conduct an advantageous marriage and how to safeguard your 'good name' while carrying on affairs left and right.
Cute, lively and quite wonderful novel.
A 17th century historical fiction that is purported to be the first of its kind.