Angélique: Marquise of the Angels was originally published in 1957 as part of a larger 800-plus page volume that also included book two, Angélique: The Road to Versailles.
However, in the UK and other countries these books were split into two smaller (but still substantial) volumes.
The story begins in 1648 during a time of insurrection, terror and revolt in a divided France. Angélique de Sance de Monteloup, a vibrant twelve-year-old tomboy, is the daughter of a simple nobleman impoverished by taxes and other burdens.
Angélique joins the local peasant children in their games, ranges the ancient forests and swamps of Poitou (below), and when bandits visit destruction and rapine on the humble villagers, our heroine’s leadership qualities come to the fore for the first time.
The book also tells of Angélique’s first meetings with two crucial characters – King Louis XIV of France and Joffrey, her future husband. One of the scenes in the book sees Angélique and Joffrey attend the wedding of Louis XIV and his queen, Marie-Therese (above). We also read about the arrival of their sons, Florimond and Cantor.
A feature of the Angélique books is their ability to sustain the reader’s interest on a number of levels and this book is no exception.
As Angélique and Joffrey tangle with powerful forces, it is a classic and gripping adventure story, but we also learn about the couple’s tender and often unpredictable relationship.
The climax of the book is a decision by the French court which has an impact on the whole of the rest of the story – destined to move to the dangerous streets of Paris for the second book…