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Courting the Sun

Can a free-spirited country girl navigate the court of King Louis XIV and still keep her head? France, 1670. On her 16th birthday, Sylvienne d’Aubert receives an invitation to attend the court of King Louis XIV of France, unaware of her mother’s secret past with the monarch and unprepared for the intrigue, illicit affairs, and power-mongering that take place behind the shiny façade of Versailles. The brightest student at her village convent school, Sylvienne has always been a dreamer and a free spirit, and has captured the heart of her childhood friend, Etienne, now a handsome young shoemaker who wants to marry her. However, when Sylvienne travels to Paris, she is swept up in the romance, opulence, and excitement of palace life. Assigned to serve King Louis’s favorite mistress, she is absorbed into the King’s most intimate circle—a heady adventure, indeed. But life among the royals causes dreams to collide with reality, immersing Sylvienne in machinations that test her resilience and threaten her very existence.

Kirkus Reviews

A beautiful young country girl navigates the perilous corridors of the court of the Sun King in Williams’ historical novel.
In late-17th-century France, when the reign of Louis XIV is at the pinnacle of its splendor, beautiful 16-year-old country girl
Sylvienne d’Aubert’s life is transformed by a totally unexpected summons to join the glittering court of the Sun King as a
lady-in-waiting. Raised by a single mother and educated by nuns, Sylvienne has grown up in modest comfort, almost
entirely ignorant of her own origins. Not long before the king’s invitation arrives, she’s shocked to learn that her mother
was the illegitimate daughter of the king’s uncle, and that her own father had been a local lord whose estate, upon his
accidental death, was seized by a scheming brother. Now living in a servant’s cottage on a modest pension and
considering marriage to a kind young shoemaker, Sylvienne is suddenly uprooted and finds herself alone at the very
epicenter of French politics and society. Arriving at the Palais de Tuileries, the king’s residence in Paris, Sylvienne is
overwhelmed by the magnificence of her new surroundings: “My eyes were drawn to the gilded ceiling embedded with
opulent paintings. Now I was gawking. Chandeliers and wall sconces illuminated portraits of royal ancestors.” But as
Sylvienne serves the king’s favorite mistress, the beautiful Madame de Montespan, she must fend off a lascivious
nobleman, brave the sometimes-vicious intrigues of the court, and steel herself against the glare of the popular press.
Williams’ knowledge of the period is thorough, and the novel’s setting in the royal court is clearly drawn and always
compelling. The author provides readers with a strong and intriguing central character whose growth toward
self-realization is one of the novel’s principal strengths. While the narrative sometimes dwells too much on ambience at the
expense of a fast-moving plot, readers of historical fiction will no doubt enjoy the novel’s authentic and seductive
An absorbing tale set in Louis XIV’s France.

Literary Titan Review

Peggy Joque Williams’ debut novel, Courting the Sun, is an exceptional work of fiction that captivates readers with its rich narrative and compelling characters. Drawing inspiration from French history, this novel weaves a tale of ambition, adventure, love, and intrigue, immersing readers in a world where tragedy, politics, and personal struggles are intricately entwined.

Set in the 1660s, the story begins in the serene countryside of Amiens before transitioning to the opulence of Paris and Versailles. Williams masterfully portrays the social life of 17th-century France, offering a vivid glimpse into the era’s vibrant and tumultuous society. The protagonist, Sylvienne, is a young village girl with a thirst for knowledge and dreams of a grander life. Her journey takes an unexpected turn when a secret about her heritage propels her into the lavish court of Louis XIV and the bustling streets of Paris.

Sylvienne’s initial enchantment with court life quickly dissipates as she confronts the harsh realities and complex politics of the nobility. Williams’ eloquent prose and immersive settings bring to life the salons, balls, and galas, capturing the ever-changing dynamics of court life where ambition and power play pivotal roles. Sylvienne’s narrative is a poignant exploration of love, yearning, and grief, as she finds herself betrothed to one man while her heart belongs to another.

The novel’s conclusion is both bittersweet and satisfying, marking the beginning of a new chapter for Sylvienne as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Williams has crafted a magical and enthralling tale that resonates with readers long after the final page. Courting the Sun is sure to entertain, intrigue, and mesmerize anyone who delves into its pages. Highly recommended for those seeking a richly detailed and emotionally engaging historical novel.

Readers Favorite Reviews

Reviewed by Lucinda E Clarke for Readers' Favorite

Courting the Sun is an apt name for this tale by Peggy Joque Williams, set in the court of Louis XIV of France, known as the Sun King. Sylvienne lives with her mother and two family retainers in the town of Amiens. One day, to the amazement of the local people, the king visits the house, and life changes for everyone. Shortly after, Sylvienne is summoned to court. It is a whole new world and way of life. Louis is married but has a mistress, Athenais the Marquise de Montespan, and Sylvienne is to be a maid of honor in her household. She has much to learn, adjusting to court life with its rules and regulations. The court moves from the Tuileries Palace to Fontainebleau, and then to Versailles. All is going well, with a huge surprise for Sylvienne, but then complications arrive when Etienne, her old love from Amiens, arrives to make shoes for the royal family.

For two days I lived in 17th-century France and was quite shocked after the last page to discover it was now the 21st century. Such was the power of Courting the Sun by Peggy Joque Williams. I have read numerous books set in France during the reign of Louis XII and visited all the places mentioned and I can’t fault any of the historical research. The author describes life in such detail, with such passion and accuracy, that I was there in court beside Sylvienne, seeing and experiencing all that she encountered. The characters were so well drawn, and true to everything I have also seen in films and books. King Louis, Queen Marie Theresa, his brother Prince Philip, his wife, the English Henrietta, plus his boyfriend the Chevalier de Lorraine are characters who are so real you feel you know them. The Marquise de Montespan has often been portrayed as unpleasant and intensely disliked, but Williams has given us a softer character, which I found refreshing. I also like the inclusion of the salons with the poets, playwrights, and writers of the time. I loved this book. I highly recommend it to every reader who, like me, enjoys historical novels, especially those with such attention to detail.

Courting the Sun Earns Literary Titan Gold Book Award for Fiction

The Literary Titan Book Award honors books that exhibit exceptional storytelling and creativity. This award celebrates novelists who craft compelling narratives, create memorable characters, and weave stories that captivate readers. The recipients are writers who excel in their ability to blend imagination with literary skill, creating worlds that enchant and narratives that linger long after the final page is turned.

Literary Titan Gold Book Award recipients include Courting the Sun: A Novel of Versailles by Peggy Joque Williams.