Kirkus Reviews QR Code
MADAME DE POMPADOUR by Nancy Mitford Kirkus Star


by Nancy Mitford

Pub Date: May 19th, 2001
ISBN: 0-940322-65-X
Publisher: New York Review Books

Nancy Mitford, who has already placed a personal cachet on the French aristocracy in its contemporary survival, returns to the age- and the personages who saw its fullest if final effulgence, and the brilliance of court life under Louis XV provides a splendid spectacle to which she brings an indulgent affection. The Pompadour, censured at the time and discredited later, is here restored to grace-not only in her beauty, and the charm which was unaffected by the world to which she rose from bourgeois beginnings, but particularly in her dedicated devotion to her "petit epoux", also a rather irresistible figure here. Her establishment as the unacknowledged consort who replaced the Queen, whose unfashionable, dreary little life of pious pursuits could only bore Louis XV; her increasing influence and power through the years which overrode the hatred of Richelleu and the people ; the much regretted failure of the physical relationship she could not sustain -- but the abiding companionship which replaced it; her patronage of artists and intellectuals whom she encouraged and stimulated; her many tastes and interests her houses and gardens; all this provides a portrait of a personality and an era which does not ignore the conduct of political and foreign affairs.... For those who are anticipating the tender malice of her novels- there is none here- her sympathies are wholly engaged, and her native appreciation of grace and elegance is a happy complement.