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The year is 1661. The boy King Louis XIV has reached his majority and has taken the reins of his Kingdom into his own hands. The French nobility, only recently in rebellion against the Crown, scampers to pay homage to the ruler and vies for the honor of being received at the Royal Court. Among those eager to gain favor with the King are the Marquis and Marquise de Valinquette. The Marquis’s father had been among the chief plotters against the Crown and the gray eminences behind the throne. But all that is in the past now. The Hôtel de Valinquette in the fashionable Marais district of Paris is the most sought-after salon and its hostess, the Marquise, the most brilliant new star on the social firmament. Everybody who is anybody is eager to mingle at Madame’s Thursday soirées. Poets and musicians write paeans to her beauty and charm; young noblemen languish at her feet and swear undying love. It’s all part of the game being played in this world of profligacy and make-believe. Yet, underneath the mask of frivolity, social connections are made and ambitions are advanced. It is only a matter of time, her husband assures her, before His Majesty will take note and will receive them at the Royal Court, restoring the honor of the Valinquette name to its right full place.

But the Marquise’s enigmatic smile veils only thinly the profound melancholy and secret that tears at her heart. The visitor, an old friend given up for lost, who suddenly appears out of the Marquis’s past, immediately senses that not all is well in the marriage. To even an old score, Guibert, Count de Mallac, presses his advantage and woos his friend’s love-starved wife who willingly succumbs to his advances. Antoine is at first too preoccupied with furthering his ambitious scheme of social advancement, in which his wife is a mere tool, to notice what is going in his house. When he is finally confronted with the truth and the love relationship is exposed, it is no longer revenge Guibert is seeking. Against his will, he has fallen in love with his friend’s wife and is willing to put his life on the line in a duel with Antoine. What neither of the two rivals seems to be aware of is that the object of their feud is by no means a puppet to be passed around nor is she a statue on a pedestal; she is a woman of flesh and blood with the will and determination to go her own way. As the story unfolds, she pulls off the social mask of deceit and pretense her husband had forced on her and embarks on a long journey into her past, a journey that takes her from the glamorous world of the aristocracy into the bowels of Paris, into the kingdom of beggars and thieves called the Court of Miracles. Confronted with mortal danger, and a series of misfortunes for herself and those she loves, she battles hunger and disease, the treachery of a dangerous criminal and the snares laid by a police chief to entrap her, she reveals time and again dauntless courage and strength, ingenuity and feistiness that help her to stand up against extreme adversity, hardship, and injustice.

At the center of the action stands a remarkable woman variously known as the Marquise de Valinquette as Galatée or simply as La Fauvette after the little birds in the gutters of Paris, who is torn between her passionate love for Guibert and tender feelings for Antoine. The male protagonists, Guibert and Antoine, who have been friends and rivals since childhood, are studies in contrasting personalities. Antoine, tall and dark, has a melancholy disposition and an artistic sensibility with an Iberian soul. Guibert, muscular and fair, the descendant of a lusty, Celtic stock of Breton nobles, is outwardly brash and rowdy. The passionate bond of love and hate between the three characters spurs them on to overcome deeply entrenched social conventions and no less formidable emotional barriers that threaten to divide them.

Court of Miracles is a ripping romantic yarn of love and deceptio

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