Louise de La Vallière

By Alexandre Dumas
Read by Simon Vance

23.17 Hours 07/08/2009 unabridged
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Following The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, Dumas continued his D’Artagnan romances with a final trilogy set during the reign of Louis XIV. Louise de La Vallière, the second novel in that trilogy, continues the suspense which began with The Vicomte de Bragelonne and will end with The Man in the Iron Mask. Filled with behind-the-scenes political intrigues and set against a tender love story, the novel brings the aging Musketeers out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France. It is 1661, and King Louis XIV is strengthening France’s military, preparing to undermine superintendent of finance Nicolas Fouquet at the behest of wily social-climber Jean-Baptiste Colbert. D’Artagnan has assumed command of the king’s Musketeers while Aramis has risen to the top of the Jesuit order. Meanwhile, Porthos remains tied to the military, and the wealthy Athos is concerned with the affairs of his son, Raoul, who finds himself smitten with the lovely Louise de la Vallière. As always, Dumas brings French history to life with excitement and romance.

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Summary

Summary

Following The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After, Dumas continued his D’Artagnan romances with a final trilogy set during the reign of Louis XIV. Louise de La Vallière, the second novel in that trilogy, continues the suspense which began with The Vicomte de Bragelonne and will end with The Man in the Iron Mask. Filled with behind-the-scenes political intrigues and set against a tender love story, the novel brings the aging Musketeers out of retirement to face an impending crisis within the royal court of France.

It is 1661, and King Louis XIV is strengthening France’s military, preparing to undermine superintendent of finance Nicolas Fouquet at the behest of wily social-climber Jean-Baptiste Colbert. D’Artagnan has assumed command of the king’s Musketeers while Aramis has risen to the top of the Jesuit order. Meanwhile, Porthos remains tied to the military, and the wealthy Athos is concerned with the affairs of his son, Raoul, who finds himself smitten with the lovely Louise de la Vallière.

As always, Dumas brings French history to life with excitement and romance.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“One of the very best of the series, mixing amorous and political intrigue with an élan peculiar to Dumas…This quasi-historical series remains remarkably readable.” Irish Times (Dublin)
“What other novel has such epic variety and nobility of incident?” Robert Louis Stevenson

Reviews

Reviews

by Bertie Wooster 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Another Vast Section of the Panorama

It’s hard to discuss coherently this segment of the “D’Artagnan Romances” because it is just that—one segment of a much vaster work. The middle volume of a trilogy (including The Vicomte de Bragelonne and The Man in the Iron Mask, known collectively as Ten Years After) and the fourth installment of a story that began some 30 years before, Louise de Lavalliere has no denouement, no crescendo, no conclusion. It is, rather, the run-up to the crescendo. But that’s not to say it doesn’t have charms that make for exceedingly enjoyable listening.

Once again, Dumas does yeoman’s work as a crafter of characters and sentences. Historical fiction fills the blank spots in the record, giving us word-for-word conversations that were never recorded (or never took place) and inmost thoughts that are beyond all human recall. For those reasons, I usually avoid the genre. But Dumas creates thoughts and conversations that somehow ring true, probably because they are so plausible.

Simon Vance does his job at the mic superbly, giving each character a distinctive voice and even, with some, a distinctive speech cadence. The one portrayal that threw me at first was the Duc de Guise; Vance gives him a raspy voice that sounds like an older man when in fact he is one of the young bucks of Louis’ court. However, once that difficulty is gotten over the distinctive voice helps us separate de Guise from the legions of courtiers surrounding the Sun King.

Of the D’Artagnan Romances I’ve listened to so far (Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, Vicomte de Bragelonne and Louise de Laviere) this latest installment is by far the least action-packed. The many ornate verbal exchanges, baroque compliments and subtle insults can lead, if you’re not completely awake, to no little rewinding. And one can get the impression that the pursuit of Eros was the leading industry in Louis’ young court (when, one wonders, is state business being done?) Yes, it can get a little tedious. But as mentioned above, it’s all leading up to the crescendo.

One French literary critic (I can’t give their name because my source didn’t mention one) believed that the real subject of Twenty Years After and Ten Years After was the emergence of Louis XIV as an absolute monarch—and I’m not saying that critic was wrong. But the real delight for me was seeing the swashbuckling heroes of Louis XIII’s day become middle aged men—old men, really, by the standards of their day—confronting the harsher realities and limitations of life. I’m about D’Artagnan’s age at this point in the story, and I’ve had a lot of the same thoughts and made many of the same observations he does. Then there are the varied adventures both large and small, the kaleidoscope of viewpoints and the radical scene shifts. It all contributes to the overall excellence of the D’Artagnan series—there’s an expansiveness here, a comprehensiveness, a downright near-shapeless bagginess that makes the story seem very much like real life. Indeed, in a typically masterful flourish worthy of Aramis, Dumas acknowledges this ungainliness and explains why we (or at least I) find it so satisfying:

“Our readers will have observed in this story, the adventures of the new and of the past generation being detailed, as it were, side by side. He will have noticed in the former, the reflection of the glory of earlier years, the experience of the bitter things of this world; in the former, also, that peace which takes possession of the heart, and that healing of the scars which were formerly deep and painful wounds. In the latter, the conflicts of love and vanity; bitter disappointments, ineffable delights; life instead of memory. If, therefore, any variety has been presented to the reader in the different episodes of this tale, it is to be attributed to the numerous shades of color which are presented on this double tablet, where two pictures are seen side by side, mingling and harmonizing their severe and pleasing tones. The repose of the emotions of one is found in harmonious contrast with the fiery sentiments of the other. After having talked reason with older heads, one loves to talk nonsense with youth. Therefore, if the threads of the story do not seem very intimately to connect the chapter we are now writing with the one we have just written, we do not intend to give ourselves any more thought or trouble about it than Ruysdael took in painting an autumn sky, after having finished a spring-time scene. We accordingly resume Raoul de Bragelonne's story at the very place where our last sketch left him.”

Author

Author Bio: Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), French novelist and playwright, was born the son of an innkeeper’s daughter and one of Napoleon’s generals. He moved to Paris in 1823 to make his fortune in the theater, and at twenty-eight he was one of the leading literary figures of his day. His complete works were eventually to fill over three hundred volumes, and his stories made him the best-known Frenchman of his age. He is best known for his ever-popular classic novels The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Classics
Runtime: 23.17
Audience: Adult
Language: English