Book Review: ‘The Myrtle Wand’ by Margaret Porter

I recently had the pleasure of reading The Myrtle Wand by Margaret Porter a couple of months ago, a story set in seventeenth-century France during the time of Louis XIV. Porter is the award-winning author of over a dozen books of historical fiction and historical romance (under Margaret Evans Porter). Although I have purchased several of her novels, this is the first one I’ve had the time to read.

I was struck by how beautifully she incorporated her own imagined storyline of the events that seamlessly merge with the story of the beloved classic ballet from 1841, Giselle, by French composer, Adolphe Adam (1803-1856). It was so well done, indeed, that my initial dislike of Albrecht (those who are familiar with ballet may understand why) was changed: she made the character much more nuanced than he can be in the ballet, in my opinion.

Giselle, the lovely and tragic titular character in the ballet, is actually a secondary character in this, which revolves more around Princess Bathilde. This young lady is very attractive in both personality and looks and we, as readers, become quite fond of her and her interactions with her friends. Porter has done a lovely retelling, with fictional characters interlaced with historical figures such as the French King Louis XIV and his brother, Philippe, duc D’Orlèans, to make a memorable historical fiction experience.

The prose in The Myrtle Wand is as elegant and cultured as the authoress herself, who is well-known for her love of gardening as well as for ballet and dogs (I think her own dog was the inspiration for Blisse the dog in the book). I don’t want to give the plot away, but I think this novel will be enchanting for both those who know and love the story of Giselle, and for those who don’t know the tale at all.

In short: an enchanting and stately novel. Well worth a read! (And then perhaps watch a performance of Giselle online?).


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