Our Lady of the Potatoes

17 December 2009

Duncan Sprott’s amazing, entrancing and magical novel Our Lady of the Potatoes has been one of my all time favourite books, ever since the very first time I read it shortly after its release in 1997 and I can think of few other books that evoke so wonderfully, the luxurious and arcane world of eighteenth century Versailles and Paris.

Our Lady of the Potatoes tells the story of Louis XV’s enigmatic adolescent Irish mistress, Marie-Louise O’Murphy (21st October 1737 – 11th December 1814) who was briefly installed in Versailles in the sunset of Madame de Pompadour’s years at court and went on to bear the King an illegitimate child before being summarily married off and sent to the provinces.

Everyone turned to look at her, as if all Versailles had been advised that today the new mistress would be delivered; as if they had made a special effort to come and stare and make instant judgements on her suitability.

Ladies came running to look and made loud remarks about her old fashioned dress. She stood out at once. She was like nothing they had seen before. With lornettes raised, curiosity and desire aroused, gentlemen craned their necks and murmured admiringly as she floated past.‘ – Our Lady of the Potatoes, Duncan Sprott, 1997.

It really is a wonderful book and a worthy addition to any historical fiction fanatics reading pile!

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