Endless books, romantic and otherwise, have been written about Jeanne-Autoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour; this solid biography by a French historian gives a factual, unbiased and at times stilted account of the fascinating woman who for 20 years was Louis XV's mistress, friend and advisor. Born in Paris in 1721 to a shady but prosperous bourgeois family, Jeanne-Antoinette, carefully educated, pious, endowed with beauty, intelligence and flawless taste, was as a girl befriended by one of her mother's many lovers, an aristocrat who married her at the age of 19 to his rich nephew. Loving her husband but convinced she was destined to be the King's mistress, Jeanne-Antoinette made herself noticed by the amorous Louis XV, who in 1744 established her as his mistress and gave her the title of Marquise de Pompadour. Hated by the court aristocrats, she exerted a profound influence on his private life and on French taste. She brought simplicity and gaiety into the rigidifies of Versailles' etiquette, sponsored private theatricals, befriended artists and writers, established the Sevres Porcelain Works and the Military Academy at St. Cyr, and provided the indolent King with ministers and generals, if not with the girls of lurid legend. Long the target of scurrilous abuse, she ied at the age of 43, still a power at court. Less vividly written but more accurate historically than Miss Mitford's Pompadour, this stiffly translated but interesting book demands of its readers a basic knowledge of mid-18th century French politics.