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Goddess by Australian author Kelly Gardiner is a witty, complex and beautiful novel re-telling the life of French historical figure Julie d’Aubigny in the seventeenth century. Julie’s character is fiercely portrayed and utterly fascinating, the famous (and infamous) woman who boldly defied social convention instead honouring the truth of herself. Julie d’Aubigny was a remarkable woman who lived during the era of the Sun King’s court at Versailles, France. A woman who was intelligent, educated and trained to sword-fight before becoming an esteemed opera singer, she was the lover of Europe’s powerful men and women and beyond equal. Not surprisingly, it was Julie’s wit, razor-keen intellect and volatile personality that often led to social conflict, duelling and other escapades. Although these seem only consequences of passion to d’Aubigny, Julie never succumbed to social convention. While being hunted with imminent execution, Julie d’Aubigny follows her lover, a nun, within a convent, where still in hiding, Julie dies aged 33. Despite this lonely end, d’Aubigny appeared a woman who lived vibrantly, acknowledged regret but not remorseful for its existence.
Goddess is a novel sparkling with a sense of wonder, empowerment and freedom.