Louise de La Valliere is not a bad story in of itself, but when held up against the rest of the saga, its weaknesses show. Still well written and full of compelling characters, the story focuses mainly on Louis XIV and his burgeoning love affair with the title character, who is a maid of honor for Louis’s sister-in-law. The majority of this novel reads a bit like a Shakespearean romantic comedy, with couples coming and going in the woods, and overhearing each other, and all sorts of contrivances to see one another. The scenes were beautifully painted and the characters brought to life, but the story itself just isn’t as compelling.
That said, Dumas does not wholesale abandon D’Artagnan, Bragelonne, or the retired Musketeers. They are all becoming wrapped much deeper in intrigue and plans, with Aramis taking a lead that was almost unexpected. The whole story ends on an emotional cliffhanger, leaving the reader with a need to jump straight into The Man in the Iron Mask in order to find out how it all ends.
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