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MALICE is set in the 17thC court of Louis XIV of France. Madame, the second wife of the King's brother, Philippe Duke of Orleans, attracts the jealous hatred of her husband's favourites. Orleans' first wife Minette, equally resented by this treacherous quartet, was thought to have been poisoned by them. How can the second escape the same fate? Among the several thousand courtiers living in Versailles so many were deformed by accidents of birth or disease that it is rarely mentioned in contemporary accounts. Yet Berthon, the most ugly of them all, who Madame calls her goblin, adores her. It is he who saves her.