FIRST GENTLEMAN OF THE BEDCHAMBER by Hubert Cole

FIRST GENTLEMAN OF THE BEDCHAMBER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Frenchmen pass but the bed lives on, a reworking of one of General Giraud's grandiose maxims, might well be the epigraph for Hubert Cole's elegant, brisk and professional, mildly smirking biography of the Marechal duc de Richelieu, grand-nephew of the Cardinal, survivor (largely through his hormones) of three royal regimes. Richelieu had and believed in what might be called the inalienable rites of spring. He was prodigious even as an adolescent, though unwillingly married at 15 he refused contact with his bride letting the relationship remain henceforth a marriage blanc. Everything was quite red elsewhere; anyway, Richelieu, hotblooded and headstrong, and a bit of a dandy to boot, served gloriously as a soldier (the battle of Fontenoy, the siege of Genoa), deviously well as a statesman, and untiringly well as confidante of the Bourbon kings whose varied lusts matched his own. With a cynic's tolerance and an agility for turning intrigues inside-out, he managed a 92 year span, practically all in the 18th century, and engaged in escapades, liaisons and various subversions, like a spider spinning across the face of Europe or waiting for a pretty catch in the tight, febrile maneuvers of the Parisian court. He never knew loves Cole tells us, and he did in reality little ""except to have slept With more women than he could count or remember."" Voila, un homme!

Publisher: Viking