Let's get this out here first: if I wanted to bring back one 20th century British person to go to tea and just hang out, it would be Nancy Mitford (sorry, Jessica, you are my go to girl for rallies and being snide about people, I promise). Nancy Mitford's account of the life of Madame de Pompadour is immensely readable and well presented. From her beginnings as Jeanne Antoinette Poisson to the cultural curator of the French court, Nancy Mitford chronicles the rise and death of the most famous French king's mistress. Along the way she turns the characteristic Mitford sarcasm towards many of the people at court, especially the court physicians that readers of [b:The Sun King|12036907|The Sun King|Nancy Mitford|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1333580713s/12036907.jpg|1756316] will remember. Mitford refrains from judging Mme du Pompadour too harshly. Mitford's narrative consists of Mme du Pompadour going up against an engrained nobility (which in retrospect was not far from failing miserably) as a more bourgeois but also more authentically French personality. Mme du Pompadour couldn't help her upbringing, let alone rumors about her parentage, but she could renovate homes, collect art, and act as advisor to the King as well as be captivating enough to be the principle and steady mistress for twenty years. Mitford pulls no punches when discussing Pompadour's successor, Mme du Barry, as a classless woman of ill repute. Imagine the wrath of an English aristocrat for the French. And now make it witty, classy, and dismissive. Mitford retains some of her academic tone while also putting those she does not care for in their place, striking a balance between substance and commentary. Once again, Mitford has captured the spirit of a time as well as accomplishing an incredibly readable biography of a famous figure from pre-Revolutionary France. Also recommended are [b:Voltaire in Love|19392|Voltaire in Love|Nancy Mitford|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1167204534s/19392.jpg|1040208] and The Sun King, and I am very much looking forward to her biography of Frederick the Great that was just re-issued last month. Before Mitford Enlightenment France was not particularly a favorite subject, though now it is through Mitford's incomparable English style.