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Before Versailles

Before Verasilles

By Karleen Koen

About the Author
Karleen Koen is the New York Times bestselling author of Through a Glass Darkly, Now Face to Face, and Dark Angels, the latter of which was an Indie Next List Bestseller and a BookSense pick. She lives in Houston, Texas.

Reading Group Guide

1. Louis is twenty-two when the novel opens in 1661. What do you remember about being twenty-two? Did you have to make a difficult decision at twenty-two or face difficult circumstances?

2. What obligations is Louis born into? How might they be difficult?

3. In the seventeenth century, there was no concept of adolescence. Young people were pitched into life, ready or not. Did you have to grow up too soon? How has that impacted your life today?

4. Louis is unable to bring himself to love his wife. Is this her fault or his?

5. How might arranged marriages be difficult? What is the seventeenth century’s concept of marriage?

6. The young queen of France has grown up in a Spanish convent; the only man she’d ever met was her father. Is she prepared for the court she marries into? Should she have changed?

7. What is the role of a princess and/or a queen? What is their primary responsibility?

8. The real life story of Princess Henriette is a riveting one. What fairy tale does her story remind you of?

9. Should Princess Henriette have refused the king’s admiration? Would you have done so?

10. Louis has a complicated relationship with his brother, very much impacted by the nature of power and the nobility around him. Do you think he could have been kinder to Philippe? Why or why not?

11. The brothers are rivals in many ways. Is “all fair in love and war”?

12. Louis’s brother Philippe is gay. How does this impact his presence at court? Do you know someone who is gay in your family, among your friends, or at work? What have you witnessed about how he or she is perceived?

13. Would Louise de la Baume le Blanc have behaved differently if her mother had been at court? What kind of influence does Choisy have over her?

14. Louise de la Baume le Blanc seems to bring out a special quality in Louis. How would you describe it? Why would she be attractive to him?

15. In France, there is great controversy over Louis XIV’s arrest of Nicolas Fouquet. Is the Viscount Nicolas simply doing as has always been done as far as filling his coffers?

16. The boy in the iron mask seems to be Louis’s brother. Why is this dangerous?

17. Loyalty is one of the themes of the book. How do these different characters display loyalty:

    a. Viscount Nicolas
    b. Colbert
    c. D’Artagnon
    d. Henriette
    e. Philippe
    f. Maria Teresa
    g. Louise
    h. Guy
    i. Olympe
    j. Catherine
    k. Duchess de Chevreuse

18. Have you ever been disloyal? Is loyalty easy or difficult?



















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