The exchange of princesses by Chantal Thomas




The exchange of princesses by Chantal Thomas

French fiction

Original title – L’exchange des princesses

Translator – John Cullen

Source – review copy


“Trophy Wife”

No nobody wants to be
No no one’s lover
No matter what they say
Lovers know they are the ones
Who one day have to go

Trophy wives
I know they wander
And find a young  young man
Trophy wives
I know they wander

One time you were a good rabbit
To all the girls
And all their lovely mothers
You tried a piece of everything
Now nothing turns you on

Trophy wives
I know they wander
And find a young young man
Trophy wives
I know they wander

I choose the National song Lyric Trophy wives although a modern term were the princesses trophy wives ?

Another challenge I tried for this woman in translation month was this book a french translation and a historic novel .I like 20th and late 19th century in fiction so I am not adverse to historic fiction but haven’t always connected to fiction from times earlier than that . But I was offered this kindly by Other press and I just liked the cover and with woman in translation month in the distant future I decided to give this one a whirl . Chantal Thomas is a noted writer philosopher and historian .Her best known book is Farewell my queen , which was about the last days of Marie Antoinette .This is her latest of  twenty books in various area she has published in the last thirty year .This book is also being made into a film .

Mile de montpensier is frowning ,She mutters that her corset’s too tight , that is beastly cold in the coach .Her father remains calm , but underneath the kind facade his impatience is perceptible .He wants to have done with this Farewell farce .

Sad really father seeing his daughter off for what might be the last time .

The exchange of princesses is novel of a true event in history when Philippe the second the leader of france , but by 1721 his life had taken its toll and with time running short he and the king of Spain worked out a plan that saw Phillippe son his chosen heir Louis Vx so he has chosen a wife for his daughter the four year old daughter of the King of Spain .As part of this deal their own twelve year old daughter is to marry another Spanish prince ,The book follows the two young princesses as they take the then actually quite long journey from each royal court , which sees how each princess fairs as they trade princesses to try to end years of conflict between the two countries .As one is to become heir to the throne through her husband and the other to marry a prince of Asturias but no heir .

Mile de montpensier ‘s people are returning to Paris ,Her cortege will form up again , just as before , except now the Infanta will occupy her place .Mile de montpensier her self sets out at the head of what was the infanta’s cortege .The french princess is surround exclusively by spanish courtiers , men at arms and servants ,

Imagine being left with a group of people from another country at just twelve years old so scary I think .


There is a saying truth is stranger than fiction , well this book is a perfect example of this . Now we know here in the uk how important royal marriages are and how much they mean to the country .But go back a couple of centuries and these royal marriages were more political than now as the royal families still had powers in their countries . So under this way of thinking marrying an eleven year old heir to the french throne to a four-year old princesses with the loss of your own daughter as part of the bargain is considered ok . I found this idea now such a scary concept for the girls and Chantal does get this across well to be pulled from your own world to another place and culture was so difficult .I felt the time with out feel overwhelmed by being in the time Chantal Thomas has a subtle story telling style that feels modern  but drags you into the past .

Have you a favourite historic novel in tranlsation ?

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sharkell
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 11:44:02

    I recently read Stone in a Landslide, a Catalan book set before and during the Spanish Civil War which has stayed with me since I read it a few weeks ago.


  2. 1streading
    Aug 09, 2015 @ 19:56:15

    Another book that would have passed me by without your intervention!
    My favorite historical novels are probably some which deal with the Highland Clearances – Iain Crichton Smith’s Consider the Lilies, Neil Gunn’s Butcher’s Broom.


  3. Trackback: That was August on winstonsdad | Winstonsdad's Blog

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August 2015


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