A microscopic study of a fragment of almost forgotten history -- a detailed picture of the Battle of Fontenoy, in which Marshall Saxe won a costly victory over the British. As a study of battle in 1745 in sharp contrast to battle today, this is quite fascinating. The armies were largely mercenaries, so both sides contained Germans, Scotch and so on, while the Irish fought merely to fight against the English, and the Dutch to fight against the French. Glimpses of scenes here and there and everywhere, behind the front lines; an unforgettable word picture of Louis XV, eager for victory to report to his new mistress, Jeannette Le Normant d'Etioles, soon to be named La Pompadour; a most unflattering picture of the ambitious and unscrupulous Richelieu -- all against an opera bouffe setting, with piquancy and interest loaned by the individual bits of drama. Paralleling the story of the battle, is shown the same day in the life of the young and lovely Jeannette, under the tutelage of Abbe Bernis and learning through Voltaire wherein lies her power. The book is the result of amazing familiarity with the detail and the period. The story is secondary.