The Shadow Queen by Sandra Gulland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Historical fiction that features real people as the main characters is difficult to do right, and this book does better than most. Because this was an ARC, some of the back matter was missing and it's lucky that I knew about the era and the lineages - without them, there will be some confusion.
What's interesting is that one might assume that the shadow queen mentioned here is the lead, Claudette, but it isn't - she's merely the confidante, midwife, medicine procurer and "alternate" for Athénaïs, King Louis XIV's current favorite (aka "shadow queen"). Their lives at court are less detailed here than Claudette's previous lives as a member of an travelling acting troupe, and then as seamstress to a troupe that includes Corneille and Racine (not to mention a rivallry with that upstart Moliere). At times it felt as though that part of Claudette's life was what really intrigued the author, far more than the intracacies of the King's court.
ARC provided by publisher.