December 28, 2010 11:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for English language historical romances set in France during the early to mid 18th century, that are not in any way involved with the French Revolution.

I want to read about 18th century France, but I want to read about the France of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. I do not want to read about the French Revolution. I do not want to read about revolutionaries or guillotines. The time period I am looking at is roughly 1710-1780. I want a story with a happy ending too-- no downers. ("Through a Glass Darkly" and "Perfume" need not apply. I would also prefer to avoid biographical novels.) Can you help me, MeFites?
posted by suburbanbeatnik to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I was younger I've read Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels.
It's set in mid-17th century, however, not the 18th.

"Written in 1950s by Anne Golon & Serge Golon, the first novel in Angélique series. Inspired by the life of Suzanne de Rougé du Plessis-Bellière, known as the Marquise du Plessis-Bellière. Angélique's marriage to Joffrey de Peyrac is thought to be parallel to that of the daughter of Madame de Sévigné, Françoise-Marguerite de Sévigné to the Comte de Grignan"
posted by mooselini at 11:27 AM on December 28, 2010

Dragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series, is set in France in the early 1740s. You would probably have to read the first book (just called Outlander) to fully understand what's going on, but if you're interested in historical romance you would certainly like the whole series.
posted by something something at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: Ironically, Somethingsomething, I read "Outlander" and didn't like it at all. But thanks for the suggestion-- it does fit my criteria. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the author.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:40 AM on December 28, 2010

I recommend Courtesan, by Diane Haeger. It's about Diane de Poitiers and her grand romance with Prince Henri. Originally released as a proper historical romance, it has now been reissued with a classy cover and the "fiction" denotation on its spine, because the market no longer allows the poor dear romance genre to tell stories like this.

Anyway, my crotchety genre tangent aside, Courtesan is a great read. However, because it does hew closely to the facts of de Poitiers's life, the ending is not "happy" by current romance genre standards. That is, people get old and eventually die. :)
posted by artemisia at 12:58 PM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: But Artemisia, "Courtesan" isn't set in the 18th century. It's set in the Renaissance.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2010

Oops, crap, that's way outside your time period. You're thinking more Dangerous Liaisons, eh? I'll see if I can think of others set in the 18th century French court...
posted by artemisia at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, I would like to find something like Dangerous Liaisons, but with a happy ending. :) No revolutionaries! No guillotines, s'il vous plait.

Seriously, I have asked this question from a number of people-- "what good historical romances are set in France in the 1700s before the French Revolution?"-- and most of the time people say, "Let me tell you about this book set during the French Revolution!" It's quite frustrating.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:14 PM on December 28, 2010

Okay, thought of two: These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. 1756, France and England. Pam Rosenthal’s The Bookseller’s Daughter, 1783. And that about exhausts my knowledge. Strange that there aren't more novels set in this fascinating period!
posted by artemisia at 1:14 PM on December 28, 2010

I came in to recommend These Old Shades too. Worth being aware that it's definitely a level or two beneath most of her books in terms of quality, though.
posted by paduasoy at 2:00 PM on December 28, 2010

These are just *slightly* past your identified time period, but Lauren Willig writes a really fun series beginning with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation involving Brit-French (the Brits are the good guys/gals) espionage during the Napoleonic era. Each story involves a romance concluding with wedding bells. Certainly not Pulitzer material, but thoroughly enjoyable.
posted by purlgurly at 5:20 PM on December 28, 2010

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