Tender-hearted, reasonably precise, petit-point history as told by Francoise, Madame de Maintenon, the ""naturally virtuous"" second, morganatic wife of Louis XIV who could not bed her--a virgin of forty-odd--without marrying her first, only to neglect her later. She was the widow of the crippled poet Scarron who had the ""instincts of a normal man"" even if he could not fulfill them. Next, she was attached to the household of her patroness, Madame de Montespan, Louis' official mistress and mother of an illegitimate brood, much to Madame de Maintenon's disapproval. Finally, in spite of Montespan's jealousy, the marriage to Louis was accomplished and Francoise--persecuted by still another woman on religious grounds--devoted herself to her school St. Cyr and her good works. Passable for those other ladies in waiting, we're never sure quite where.