The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV - W.H. Lewis
This is a wittily-written, somewhat unsystematic survey of areas of social and institutional organization and experience in the second half of the 17th century. It's all colorfully and carefully laid out for the lay reader, with due mention of complexities without actually going into them. The author actually manages to point out the main points of the horrifically tangled system of taxation: impenetrable in theory, iniquitous in practice. He achieves the even more impressive feat of relating an internal doctrinal dispute among Catholics in a way that's not completely mind-numbing. In short, informative and fun.