VODKA O’CLOCK 2023-02:


author of The Menagerie: Passion, Power, and Poison in the Court of the Sun King

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AMBER LOVE 27-FEB-2023 My work is supported by the generous backers at who appreciate my reviews and my stories; and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. Also, I have Amazon Lists so you can shop through my personal recommendations and buy my books.

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About Judy Willmore:

Judy Willmore has had a varied career-first journalist, then private investigator; then a big switch: back to college for a psychology degree. She is now a practicing psychotherapist and astrologer in Albuquerque, New Mexico and working on the sequel to The Menagerie.

Content Warnings for the show and the book:

Contains gambling, alcoholism, abortion, torture, murder, public execution; and themes of religious persecution, infidelity, and witchcraft.

Publisher’s Summary:

Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart de Mortemart (pronounced ah-TEN-eye-ees) had to have Louis, King of France, but his other mistresses stood in the way. Then she meets the very helpful sorceress and Athénaïs gets her wish. But soon Louis hears tales of witchcraft and poison, a conspiracy spreading through his court-like the beasts in the Versailles menagerie, courtesans are clawing their way to his favor, and his bed. He orders Lieutenant General of Police Gabriel-Nicolas de la Reynie to investigate. Mysterious deaths mount while La Reynie presses on, hauling in witches, charlatans, and the nobility alike. Grimy fingers point to Athénaïs, the King’s mistress, with whispers of a black mass celebrated over her naked body. Then La Reynie discovers a plot to kill her.

Françoise-Athénaïs de Rochechouart marquise de Montespan. She bore the King seven children, one died, they were eventually legitimated but it was one particular son, Louise-Auguste who appeared to be the only child she cared about.

She’s the clear protagonist, not necessarily likeable or sympathetic, but magnetic. I was captivated by her journey from this very young and naïve girl to a cold hearted competitive lady of the court who was constantly jealous of any woman the King talked to. Plus it was known and accepted to have mistresses. She goes from his public mistress to being sent to her own chateau and hidden from everyone. Taking her out of the spotlight and away from this man she even describes as stinky and unwashed, is the biggest punishment she could face. She loved the attention too much.

She ends up befriending a young embroiderer named Sylvie who is secretly reporting back on suspicious activity. But Sylvie and Athénaïs do become good friends.

For more information, you can look up the poisons affair from 1677-1682 which is a combination of poisonings, witchcraft, black magic, and a tangential case of forgery.


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