From #1 internationally bestselling author Eva Stachniak comes this rich, engrossing tale of love, deception and scandal in eighteenth-century France.
During the reign of Louis XV, impoverished but lovely teenage girls from all over France are sent to a discreet villa in the town of Versailles. Overseen by the King’s favourite mistress, Madame de Pompadour, they will be trained as potential courtesans for the King. When the time is right, each girl is smuggled into the palace of Versailles, with its legendary Hall of Mirrors. There they meet a mysterious but splendidly dressed man who they’re told is merely a Polish count, a cousin of the Queen. Living an indulgent life of silk gowns, delicious meals and soft beds, the students at this “school of mirrors” rarely ask questions, andwhen Louis tires of them, they are married off to minor aristocrats or allowed to retire to one of the more luxurious nunneries.
Beautiful and impressionable Véronique arrives and quickly becomes a favourite of the King. But when she discovers her lover’s true identity, she is whisked away, sent to give birth to a daughter in secret, and then to marry a wealthy Breton merchant.
This is also the story of the King’s daughter by Véronique—Marie-Louise. Well provided for in a comfortable home, Marie-Louise has never known her mother, let alone her father. Capable and intelligent, she discovers a passion for healing and science, and becomes an accredited midwife, one of the few reputable careers for women like her. Eventually Véronique comes back into her daughter’s life, bringing with her the secret of Marie-Louise’s birth. But it’s a volatile time in France . . . and those with royal relatives must mind their step very carefully.
Gorgeously written and with a breathless pace, this is the story of a mother and a daughter—at the centre of cataclysmic personal and public turmoil.
About the author
Eva Stachniak was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and came to Canada in 1981. She has been a radio broadcaster and college English and Humanities lecturer. Her debut novel, Necessary Lies, won the Amazon.com/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and her second novel, Garden Of Venus, has been translated into seven languages. Her third novel, The Winter Palace, has been published in Canada (Doubleday), US (Bantam) and the UK (Transworld) and will soon appear in Holland, Germany, and Poland.
AN INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
"A gorgeously written saga of life in 18th-century France. . . . [Stachniak's] academic and literary background are evident in her gorgeous prose and historical detail." —Winnipeg Free Press
"Stachniak combines a delicately embroidered historical world with enduring situations. . . . This accomplished novel should enthrall Francophiles and women's history enthusiasts." —Booklist
"Impressive. . . . Stachniak has clearly done her research on life both in the royal court and on the streets of Paris. . . . Stachniak successfully immerses readers in a tumultuous era of French history." —Publishers Weekly
"A riveting story of two incredible women living in a tumultuous, dynamic era of revolution. . . . A scintillating and vibrant addition to literature on the French Revolution, and a reminder that women—even when silenced and hidden—have always been brave, powerful and important parts of history." —Bookreporter
"A sweeping tale of tumult and tragedy set against the backdrop of revolutionary France—intricate, absorbing, and impeccably depicted, The School of Mirrors will linger in your imagination long after you turn the last page." —Ann Mah, bestselling author of The Lost Vintage and Jacqueline in Paris
"With beautiful prose, Eva Stachniak brings to life the lush detail of Versailles, weaving together the stories of women who dare to step out in defiance of their fate against the backdrop of the French Revolution. I was captivated by this book." —Shilpi Somaya Gowda, bestselling author of The Shape of Family
"Exquisitely realized, Eva Stachniak's women—courtesans, midwives and revolutionary citizens—mirror a country's anguish as they bear royal betrayal and heartbreaking secrets. Haunting, illuminating." —Beth Powning, bestselling author of The Sister's Tale
"A riveting epic shining with lush historical detail. . . . Stachniak's story of a young woman's life struggle and journey is set against the Versailles court intrigue and French Revolution. The School of Mirrors illuminates the early feminism of midwives through the guillotine to the New World. You'll never forget this journey." —Cara Black, bestselling author of Three Hours in Paris
"Riveting and sincere. The School of Mirrors is historical fiction at its finest. By not shying away from the realities of life in Versailles in the late 1700s, Eva Stachniak gives agency to women who lived in the shadow of the king, showing us the true nature of their bravery and strength." —Allison Larkin, author of The People We Keep