I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? Did you find yourself wondering what would happen if Mean girls were set in 18th century France? Wonder know more! The Nesle sisters are here to answers all your questions! Seriously, this novel read just like Mean Girls set at the French court in the 18th century. The biggest difference between Mean Girls and The Sisters of Versailles? I liked Mean Girls. I still like Mean Girls.
The story begins with Louise, who much like Mean Girls', Cady Heron, is horribly naive when it comes to the ways of the French aristocracy, as well as the world. Louise is dull. She has no voice of her own and is perfectly content being pushed around by people with their own agendas. Catty princesses and courtiers are constantly calling her names behind her back and to her face. Her own sisters are constantly scheming against her. The whole time she just accepts it as the way the world works. I'm not saying that people like Louise don't really exist. It's just that people like Louise make poor heroines.
Pauline is Versailles' Regina George, without the amazing hair. She is in charge and does not care who she has to step on (including her sisters) to get to the top. I could not stand Pauline. It took incredible amounts of willpower for me not to throw things or skip anything from Pauline's point of view. The letters from Pauline at the start of the novel were unbearable. It's not that I don't love a good villain (like Kate Quinn's Lepida in Mistress of Rome) but Pauline was just too much. Pauline's story arch by itself took two stars away from this review.
Sister Diane provided Versailles with its own Karen Smith. There were points where Diane made Karen Smith look like Einstein. I was hopeful Diane might develop some brains after spending sometime at court. Not so much. There were points where I felt Diane was actually growing dumber as the novel progressed.
Hortense, much like Gretchen Wieners, was just there to be another pretty face. Hortense just sort of sat there and watched everything going on around her. She thought her opinions were more important than they actually were. Much like Gretchen Wieners, nobody really listened to Hortense. I hardly even listened to Hortense.
To round out the sisters, Marie-Anne filled a Janis Ian type role. Her past made her bitter. Marie-Anne felt scorned and her sole purpose was revenge. By the time Marie-Anne's story became the center of the novel, I was so fed up with reading, I hardly paid attention. As hard as she tried not to be like Pauline, Marie-Anne ended up being a more destructive version of Pauline.
I was leery of this book from chapter one. At the start of the novel, the reader is presented with five teenage girls. I was a teenage girl once. I have no desire as an adult to read books told from the perspective of a teenage girl. I pushed through the first few chapters of the book hoping the girls would develop and mature as they aged. Nope. Never happened. At several points, it was painfully obvious this novel was being told by girls aged 15-18 years of age. There was little development. Much like Peter Pan, these girls never grew up.