Date of First Publication: 1954

‘High-rouged, unfortunate female,’ said Carlyle of Madame de Pompadour, ‘of whom it is not proper to speak without necessity.’ Happily, Nancy Mitford considers it necessary to speak about Louis XV’s mistress in detail. In a lively combination of history and character study, she describes the life of La Pompadour, her rise to power and her great talents as a patron of the arts. She paints a glittering picture of the court and untangles the complicated threads of politics at home and abroad.


‘Her felicity lies . . . in capturing the 
spirit of a society and an age.’
Times Literary Supplement

‘A shrewdly well-balanced, witty and sympathetic portrait.’

‘The only thing that was not perfect in this relationship was its sexual side. Louis XV was a Bourbon, and had their terrible temperament, while Madame de Pompadour was a physically cold woman. She was not strong enough for continual love-making and it exhausted her. She tried to work herself up to respond to the King’s ardours by every means known to quackery, so terrified was she that he would one day find out her secret; but she began to make herself ill. Her maid spoke of this to the Duchesse de Brancas . . .“It can’t be good for her, she is living on a diet of vanilla, truffles and celery.”’