Before Versailles by Karleen Koen introduces us to a younger Louis XIV than we are used to. This is Louis before he became the great sun god that we know him as today. This is a newly wed Louis trying to establish himself as a king, trying to decide what kind of king he wants to be and who he can trust.
The story is not only told around Louis, but many characters at court tell their story and their interaction with the king. Sometimes there are almost too many characters, but one can only fault history.
Equally the main character as Louis is Louise, a lady-in-waiting to the king's sister-in-law, Henriette. Louise is new to court, and she, too, must decide who she wants to be and who she can trust.
I began Before Versailles with some trepidation; I wasn't sure how dense the reading would be. Once I got used to Koen's style, I really enjoyed the novel. I learned a lot about XIV that I never knew before and now I want to read more about him. I recommend this to any historical fiction junkie like myself, or anyone wanting to learn more about France and Louis XIV's early days.