Category Archives: HF Bloggers Round Table

>Lessons in French

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Potential Lead Character?

And now we have Lessons in French…Just kidding. Not really. Actually, that would be pretty awesome. I envision the setting.. me and Rupert Penry-Jones being tutored in French.  No, scratch that. Rupert tutoring me in French. (Long pause.. meditation..)
Ah, I digress. After reading the new novel of Catherine Delors FOR THE KING, I wonder who would play the detective, the main protagonist, Roch Miguel, in the movie. Because of course there should at least be a BBC Masterpiece Classic movie of this. Would Rupert suffice? I should say so!! I wonder what Catherine feels about that?

Have you read any French Revolution inspired books lately? I have not read as many Frenchified reads as I have read Tudor reads. I got the awful word Frenchified from those Tudor reads actually, because it was the Englishmen who hated the way Anne Boleyn was so Frenchified. In my forced learning days, I chose French as a subject when I was twelve so that I could further relate to my beloved father. I studied five years of French; my father and I tossed around French phrases amongst each other, he wrote me sweet little French endearments for years afterwards, and I dreamt of Paris. The End.

Fast forward eons later, I retain not much knowledge of those five years of learning, other than basic vocabulary words and those sweet endearments (which of course are priceless). Even in my mind, instead of thinking in English, what time is it, I think “quelle heure est-il?” and instead of saying to my daughter ‘Why?’ I ask “Pourquoi?”. Silly idiosyncrasies like that is what five years of French has done for me. Of course, the most fantastic thing has been the fact that I got to share that special something with my father, who is now my guardian angel in heaven.

So what actual France themed reads are out there? Let’s see.. of course there are the two novels by the beautiful Catherine Delors:
Mistress of the Revolution (2009) which has an astonishingly short synopsis considering the manuscript was longer than War and Peace: “An impoverished noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat is only fifteen when she meets her first love, a commoner named Pierre-André Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, forcing her instead to marry an aging, wealthy cousin.
Widowed and a mother before the age of twenty, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be swept up in the emerging turbulence—and to encounter the man she never expected to see again. Determined and independent, she strives to find her own freedom— as the Revolution takes an ever more violent turn.”

For The King (2010) “The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte’s route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel’s investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

Based on real events and characters and rich with historical detail, For the King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris and is a timeless epic of love, betrayal, and redemption.” (Read my review here; enter for the giveaway).

And onwards to some more France reads of which most are on my shelf, sitting prettily, as they must, since they mostly include the fashionable Marie Antoinette..

The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent  (read my review)
Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Frasier
Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever
Annette Vallon: A Novel of The French Revolution by James Tipton.. Comes highly recommended from blogger buddy Arleigh at historical-fiction.com (her review)
Napoleon: The Path to Power by Philip G. Dwyer
Fatal Purity: Robespierre & The French Revolution by Ruth Scurr
The Glass-Blowers by Daphne DuMaurier
The Diamond: A Novel by Julie Baumgold (another favorite of Arleigh’s, her review)
Flaunting, Extravagant Queen by Jean Plaidy
The Road to Compiegne by Jean Plaidy
Louis the Well Beloved by Jean Plaidy
The Queen’s Confession by Jean Plaidy
The Queen of Diamonds by Jean Plaidy.. Also a favorite of Arleigh, read her review at the Plaidy website she and Lucy contribute to, Royal Intrigue. Arleigh says you can’t go wrong with a Plaidy!

And another one of our favorite bloggers Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine (see Lucy’s Gulland posts here) totally swears by Sandra Gulland’s books, the trilogy of novels based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte: The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; The Last Great Dance on Earth. Arleigh says that ‘the trilogy is REALLY good’ and Lucy says ‘Gulland is by far the best on Jo.’

What of these books have you read? I hope to get to read these soon, and I really need to read another Jean Plaidy novel so I would probably start with one of hers.

For those of you interested in the rest of the posts at The Round Table, you can see the full calendar here.
Here at The Burton Review we have the review with the giveaway, and the guest post from the author herself. But there are giveaways at all of the blogs, so go hunting for the treasure!

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Filed under Catherine Delors, France, French Revolution, HF Bloggers Round Table, Napoleon

>Author Guest Post by Catherine Delors.. HFBRT Event!

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As part of the Round Table event this week, Catherine has obliged us and fashioned many many guest posts for us at The Round Table. What a sweetheart she is to take her time and compose all of these original essays, we all very much appreciate the dedication she has to her work. Let it not go to waste, please leave a comment letting her know you were here. Without further ado, here is Catherine and her newest guest post:

FOR THE KING: Meet the Assassins


Let us begin with Joseph de Limoëlan, the head of the conspiracy to assassinate Napoléon Bonaparte in Paris. He was 34 years of age at the time of the attack, a tall, handsome man with blue eyes and dark hair, gold-rimmed spectacles and an aristocratic air. After years spent as a Chouan, a royalist insurgent, he is the one who planned to detonate the bomb, placed on a horse-drawn cart, in the midst of a busy street. All the busier that evening because people wanted to see Napoléon Bonaparte’s carriage on its way to the Opera. It was also Christmas Eve, the shops and cafés were still open, and many were headed for the houses of friends to celebrate the holiday.

That did not give pause to Limoëlan, though he had to know that the collateral damage would be atrocious. There were dozens of casualties, and so many houses were blown up that the street itself was later condemned and destroyed in its entirety. Limoëlan himself had found a little street vendor, a girl by the name of Marianne Peusol, to hold the bridle of the horse that drew the carriage. He had to know that the child, closest to the bomb, was sure to die.

The man was the coldest of cold-blooded killers. Yet he was engaged to a young lady, a friend of his sisters, and every clue I found pointed to an attachment that was mutual, and very deep. I also found out that his father and several of his relatives, prominent members of the nobility of Brittany, had been guillotined in Paris a few years earlier as royalist conspirators. That is no excuse, of course, but it puts Limoëlan’s hate for the city and its inhabitants in perspective.

Pierre de Saint-Régent, who was Limoëlan’s second in command, was no less interesting. He was also a nobleman from Brittany, though from a minor and impoverished family. His pointed nose gave his face the look of a ferret, and he did not have the elegant manners of his comrade. Hardened by years of combat, first in the Royal Navy before the Revolution, and later in the royalist insurgency, he was the one who actually lit the fuse that detonated the bomb.

Nevertheless, in the days that led to the attack, Saint-Régent took great pains, and great risks, to purchase a pug, and order a sterling silver dog collar to present to his “lady.” Who was she? The real investigation never uncovered her identity, but trust a historical novelist to fill in the blanks… Of course the lady in question is one of the fictional characters of FOR THE KING.

The third assassin, François Carbon, nicknamed Le Petit François, Short Francis, is quite a different sort of character. I discovered someone totally repulsive, physically and morally. Squat, fat, abusive, vulgar, garish in his dress, and yet fancying himself a great favorite with the ladies… Also a Chouan, Carbon accompanied Limoëlan to Paris as his valet and jack-of-all-trades, and he helped the two other men drive the cart on which sat the bomb to Rue Nicaise. Comical as he may seem at times, he too was a killer. I could not find any portrait of him, though he is easy to picture from the descriptions of witnesses.

“How to” manuals purporting to teach the craft of writing warn the would-be novelist to stay clear of characters devoid of any nuance. But in this case I couldn’t help it: the real François Carbon was as I describe him in FOR THE KING. And actually some readers tell me they found him totally compelling, repellent as he is.

Thanks so much to Catherine for writing such a fun historical novel that was steeped in mystery with even a bit of romance! Read my review of the book here, and enter for your chance to win your very own hardcover of FOR THE KING, which is available for purchase July 6, 2010.

For the rest of the Events of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table group, please visit the Calendar of Events page where you will find all the links to other posts. There are many opportunities to win the gorgeous book as well.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, Author Interviews, Author Post, Catherine Delors, France, French Revolution, HF Bloggers Round Table

>Giveaway & Book Review: For The King by Catherine Delors

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For the King by Catherine Delors
Amazon USA
July 8th 2010 by Dutton Books
Hardcover, 352 pages
Isbn 9780525951742
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:FourStars!

The Reign of Terror has ended six years earlier, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers.

On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explores along Bonaparte’s route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel’s investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

For The King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris. It is a romantic thriller, a tale of love, betrayal and redemption.

I am not as historically in tune to French politics as I am with Tudor politics. With Catherine Delors’ newest novel that is focused on French politics, there is no preamble to the upheaval that France is facing after the pacification set in place by Bonaparte. The French Revolution had just ended and the novel begins in 1800 with a police officer called Roch Miguel who is investigating a bombing on the streets of  Paris that was a failed assassination attempt on Napoleon Bonaparte. There were several police agencies or ministries that were at odds with each other who were slightly hard to follow; along with who was Royalist, Jacobin or Chouan. If I had previously read a novel that dealt with the Republic and the aftermath of the French revolution I would probably have felt a bit less lost, but the writing of Catherine Delors pulled me through the story itself very quickly.

Written to be a historical mystery, the focus of the story is the investigation of the bombing in the Rue Nicaise. Roch, the investigator, is the main protagonist and is portrayed as a strong man with morals, and gets put in a bad situation when his father, affectionately known as Old Miguel, is suddenly arrested. Was he arrested to spur Roch’s investigation in another direction? Between the several different factions of the police government it is hard to tell if Roch should trust anyone in the fearsome political times. And he has to move fast otherwise his father will meet a torturous fate meant for traitors.

Napoleon crossing the Alps (1800)~Jaques Louis David

One of the mentions in the novel is of a painter known as Jaques Louis David, who painted the famous portrait of Napoleon on the magnificent white horse. I loved how Delors included these small details of history into her novel which helped me experience France and their culture more than I ever have. And I took five years of French! Catherine Delors helped to reawaken in me the spirit of France for which I had fallen in love with long ago as a child. She surrounds the novel in historic details that really help shape the atmosphere and the turmoil of France at that time.

Catherine Delors’ previous novel, Mistress of the Revolution (2008), was written in memoir fashion telling of a Frenchwoman exiled in England. For The King departs from that point of view as it is told in third person allowing for multiple views to be presented. Using this narrative allows the reader to get an entire circumspective view from all parties involved which is very helpful in this thriller/mystery setting. It also helps to lend a greater understanding of a complicated period of time that could easily befuddle the unaware reader, like I was at first.

I found the story to be fast paced and I felt empathy for the character of the investigator Roch Miguel, and Delors was subtle with the added romantic undercurrents that we are treated to. Some of the other characters shifted over time, becoming more ominous as the story wore on and the mystery of who was behind the attack unfolded. Although the reader knows the names of the three who are responsible for the attack from the very beginning, the unfolding of the multiple aspects that lead to the attack and their hopeful apprehension was expertly presented. Lovers of France and those eager to immerse themselves in its historic setting following the revolution will definitely love this book. I love the fact that Delors is focusing her next novel on another mystery setting and I will definitely be reading that one as well.

GIVEWAY:
One new GORGEOUS Hardcover Copy of FOR THE KING by Catherine Delors
Open to USA and Canada Residents ONLY
Ends on July 2nd

Must be or become a Follower of this Blog
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Please stay tuned this week as rest of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event unfolds! There are more book giveaways that you can enter as well as Guest Posts and Creative Posts presented to you by the wonderful Round Table Bloggers! Yesterday’s book review and giveaway was Enchanted by Josephine and an author guest post “The Perfect Villain” can be found at The Maiden’s Court.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to read Delors’ previous novel, check out Allie’s review of Mistress of the Revolution at Hist-Fic Chick which she read especially for the Round Table event.

43 Comments

Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Bonaparte, Catherine Delors, France, HF Bloggers Round Table, Josephine, Napoleon, Revolution

>Book Review: The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner

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The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W. Gortner
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 25, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0345501868
Review Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:FourStars!

 

The truth is, none of us are innocent. We all have sins to confess.

So reveals Catherine de Medici in this brilliantly imagined novel about one of history’s most powerful and controversial women. To some she was the ruthless queen who led France into an era of savage violence. To others she was the passionate savior of the French monarchy. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner brings Catherine to life in her own voice, allowing us to enter into the intimate world of a woman whose determination to protect her family’s throne and realm plunged her into a lethal struggle for power.

From the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the battlefields of the wars of religion to the mob-filled streets of Paris, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is the extraordinary untold journey of one of the most maligned and misunderstood women ever to be queen.

In this long awaited novel from the author of The Last Queen, C.W. Gortner brings to life another female queen who has perhaps been maligned by history. As this is my first novel primarily focused on Catherine de Medici, she has previously been a figure shrouded in the superstition that she was a witch, as she was known to have embraced Nostradamus’ teachings. She was a woman scorned by her husband as she was forced to stand by and allow her royal husband have a mistress who helped rule France. In Gortner’s telling, he begins Catherine’s story from when she was an orphan in Florence, Italy, who was caught between the political strife of the Medici and the Hapsburgs. Catherine is immediately portrayed as a strong character who recognized the need for self perseverance in times of political turmoil.

She is finally sent to France to wed Henry, the Duke of Orleans and the second son to King Francis of France. It is not apparent until later on that Catherine herself would eventually become Queen of France, but when that happened she enjoyed little from the title as she was seen only as a means to beget heirs. Catherine’s life at this point is written to be pretty dull as she gives the king many children in rapid succession in this story. When her husband King Henry suddenly dies Catherine’s life and her story turns into something more interesting as she is finally in control of some of her fate. She seeks the knowledge of the likes of Nostradamus to help aid her with the decisions of the future. Her son Francois is betrothed to Mary Queen of Scots, but she spends little time with them. The tensions increase as she finds herself Regent after her eldest son’s death, and she sends the young Mary Queen of Scots back home to Scotland.

The story then focuses on the pressures on Catherine as she is trying to balance the battles that began brewing between the Catholics and the Protestants. She tries to show leniency to the Huguenots, but her nobles will not hear of it. Eventually when her son Charles takes the throne he exhibits some of Catherine’s tolerance but welcomes a known traitor back into the courts. Catherine would rather not call attention to the leniency towards the Huguenots at this time, especially when the person is Coligny, a previous lover of Catherine’s. This is where the novel started to take off for me, the previous events did not show dramatic flair until at this point when Catherine is struggling to save France from unnecessary trouble.

Catherine is about fifty at this point in the novel, and it is here that we see more of the relationships between Catherine and her children. Although this is probably a novel that shows Catherine in a much more tender light than other authors tend to show, Catherine is not portrayed as an overly loving mother; though earlier on at the birth of one of her sons, she doted on him more than her others. But I felt that not much else was given to specifically characterize that Catherine truly cared for them as other than pawns for power. When the time comes for her sons to take the throne, she is more in a battle with the nobles to maintain control of the governmental issues. When Charles is in his twenties, she had to let go of the idea that she was in control, yet she relinquishes it unwillingly for the purpose to not cause friction.When she betroths her favored daughter Margot to Henri of Navarre is when we feel Catherine’s pain of being a mother to royal children; bemoaning the idea that princesses cannot marry for love but only for the good of the realm, although this empathy is quickly dispensed with, as the relationship between mother and daughter is made irreparable.

The title suggests murderous secrets and enlightening confessions are to be made by Catherine, but for the most part that would be misleading. I had envisioned more scandals and prophecy-type focus, but this was more humanizing rather than taking advantage of the Medici reputation. Being told in first person, it definitely gives a more personal slant on Catherine’s character, therefore it seems to take away some of the intrigues that are generally perceived of her. Gortner plays down the liaisons with the likes of Nostradamus, but does have Catherine fingering amulets with unholy thoughts. All in all, if you are looking for the same old same old on the scandals of Catherine, you may be disappointed. If you want what actually could be an accurate depiction of Catherine’s life, this would be a great start.  Encompassing a large period of time, Gortner also touches on some of the important issues that France experienced and tries not to confuse us with too many characters at once. The author’s note wraps everything up nicely for the politics of France, of which it seemed was Catherine’s driving force throughout her life. Instead of being portrayed as being in the eternal quest for ultimate power, Catherine is depicted as being the protector of France, and regardless of the dastardly deeds she may have done, they were for the good of the realm. This is a great read for those who would like to know more about the possible reality of how Catherine saw herself, and I am always intrigued at how well Gortner displays his heroines as he does it in such an effortless and comprehensive way. Although the book does not release for another few weeks, Goodreads is already showing a 4.45 average rating among 11 raters, with 7 reviews.
 

Stay tuned for the rest of the events at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table that continue for the rest of this week! A beautiful necklace is just one of the giveaways being held at the main site, so please go check it out!

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, C.W. Gortner, Catherine de Medici, HF Bloggers Round Table

>The Sunday Salon~ Stuff & More Round Table Events coming your way..

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The Sunday Salon.com


Happy Sunday! Sip along with your sweet tea or flavored fake coffee, click the pics to visit other virtual reading rooms.. tell us..what are you reading this week??

This week I tried and tried and tried to get into the reissue of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter. I am not giving up. I am putting it aside, which is book one of this quartet. I cannot stand it. But okay whatever we’ll see what happens when book two has to be read. This is the pitfall when you agree to review a book for a publisher. You cannot just throw it against the wall and use it for kindling. You must compose a cohesive thought, go over pros and cons of the writing and the plot, and get into the nitty gritty of the subject matter.

Normally that’s not a big deal. Millions of book bloggers do it every day. I am not sure if I can do it though, ever again. I will try, because I have invested a year in this book blog to make it something I am proud of. But what would make me ecstatic is to say I am going on hiatus, because my brain cannot handle one more written word.

But I made a promise when I accepted the backlog of twenty books that are impatiently waiting on my shelf for me to read and review. So I have to try. The Blogger Burn Out that I have mentioned before is still clouding my psyche. Obviously. I just have much much much more pressing things going on in my real life that have accumulated into one big tornado that is hanging over my head instead of going away. And it doesn’t just include the fact that I have a full time job, I am part of a family of four, and summer is coming.

Why am I torturing myself with piles of books that scream silently?  Because I honor my word, and I love my book blogging buddies. I do like to read books, but I am getting tired of the whole process where everything is scheduled according everyone else’s schedule. What about my schedule? When did the book review process become a review robot process? Wasn’t this supposed to be fun?

So I set aside The Brothers of Gwynedd and started Jane Feather’s newest release, All the Queen’s Players. This will fit in with the Tudor Mania Challenge that is underway right now. (got a Tudor read this summer? Add your link!!) The book is so-so, sort of fluffy, and contains really insipid lines that grate on one’s nerves but at least it doesn’t take me three hours to get through two pages like The Brothers of Gwynedd.

For the Tudor Mania Challenge, there has been confusion. Please enter the LINK TO YOUR REVIEW in the Linky tool. Enter the name of the book then the name of your blog in parentheses. Such as: Secrets of the Tudor Court (The Burton Review)

This linky tool is how I am determining the winner of the challenge. I will have to delete all entries that are not linked to a review. The linky tool is for the competition, the comments are for comments such as if you would like to join us. A comment is not required to enter the competition, a link to the challenge is not required, all that is required is a link to your Tudor Themed Book Review that has been posted between May, June and July. The reviewer with the most Tudor Themed Reviews linked up via Linky tool will win a book of their choice from the Book Depository of a $15 value. More details are on the post page. So far, Arleigh and I are tied for first place with one book review each! =)

This week I posted a review of Mitchell James Kaplan’s debut novel, By Fire, By Water. A wonderfully insightful read that really portrays a vivid characterization of The Spanish Inquisition via its main protagonists. I will welcome the author to The Burton Review with an author supplied guest post when it comes closer to its release date of May 18.
And this is after the main May event of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table featuring a blogger favorite, C.W. Gortner. Gortner’s previous release The Last Queen was touted by all and was a virtual wild fire of praise. His newest novel, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is going to garner even more praise as history lovers embrace the story of an evil queen made likable.

The event begins NOW and runs for the upcoming week. My review will post tomorrow. Scheduled posts for the event include the normal guest posts, interview and creative posts authored by the very talented bloggers who are members of the round table. You guessed it, I will just have the review as part of the event, as my brain simply cannot handle one more thing at this time. But you need to stay tuned to the main site for the Round Table and see what fabulous giveaways we have in store for you courtesy of the generosity of C.W. Gortner!! You will not be disappointed.

And last but not least, I sent Lizzy at Historically Obsessed my ARC of Jean Kwok’s book, Girl in Translation, for a book signing event at Powell’s on Friday night. This was a great book and I cannot wait to hear what fun times Lizzy had! I ran a giveaway for the book and using Random.org, the winner is….ICEDREAM!! Email has been sent. The book was fantastic and you all need to read it. This was one that I read in a single day, I could NOT put it down. It was a fabulous break from all the historicals that I have been focused on lately. (review) Goodreads shows it already has 79 ratings and a 4.25 average rating.

Happy Mother’s Day to all! May you be blessed with hugs and kisses and perhaps.. fine jewelry.

13 Comments

Filed under C.W. Gortner, HF Bloggers Round Table, Jean Kwok, The Sunday Salon, Why I Blog

>Camille Doncieux of Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell

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Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
Please visit the main Round Table page to follow the links for all of the events we have for the HF Bloggers Round Table: Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell.

As portrayed in Stephanie Cowell’s new novel, Camille Doncieux was Claude’s first true love. She was a Parisian girl with a bright future, yet she set her stars on the then unsuccessful Claude Monet. They struggled together throughout her lifetime to make ends meet, and she seemingly did it with style and grace just to be by Claude’s side, against both of their parent’s wishes.

What is behind the story of Camille that Stephanie writes? She does write of Claude using Camille as a model, and Camille was the subject of many of Monet’s paintings until her death. She exhibited such charm to Monet’s friends that she was the subject of many of their paintings as well. There are several paintings mentioned specifically in Claude and Camille that Camille posed for:

Women in the Garden
Circa 1866

Women in the Garden was painted as Camille modeled as all the ladies for Monet in Sèvres, a commune in the southwestern suburbs of Paris, France. She posed for several of these styles of domestic scenes for Claude, and also donned a wig for the La Japonaise painting in 1876. This became the last large scale portrait he did of her.

La Japonaise
1876

Auguste Renoir was a fellow artist friend and he painted Camille as she read La Figaro on the couch in 1872, and a few years later he painted Camille with her son, Jean Monet. Throughout Stephanie Cowell’s book, Monet seems to be struggling with the very idea of who was Camille?

Renoir

Claude Monet painted his muse many many times after meeting her in 1866. Camille Doncieux was his muse, and she only became his wife three years after giving birth to their first son. Camille was born in Lyon in 1847. Sadly though, she died not too long after their second son was born.

After a long illness, Camille died at age 32 in 1879, leaving Claude with their two sons. The painting above was done by Monet as soon as she died; he wanted to ‘keep her’. The grief of losing a loved one, the utter feeling of being alone and incomplete without hope must have been pressing upon him as he painted this. He ‘found himself desiring to reproduce the last image of she who would leave us forever.’

After Camille’s death, Claude begged her elder sister to explain some of the momentos left behind. Camille was portrayed as flighty with her moods, but almost always supportive of Claude and his artistic

In Cowell’s novel, Camille is portrayed as a woman with a vigor for life, and with a zest for creative outlets such as dramas, acting and writing. The death scene is not how she would have wanted to be remembered, and Monet may have known that which is why the death painting remained hidden for many years until his son allowed it to be viewed, years after Monet’s own death. Monet kept a portrait of Camille in his bedroom for the rest of his life.

Camille probably would have liked to be remembered as the charming young woman who was Monet’s muse. She enjoyed being known for the model as The Lady in the Green dress, the one in which Cowell tells us is the first painting Monet painted of her when she was nineteen years old. It was a large painting, and was accepted to the annual painting exhibition, the Salon, in Paris, the first major achievement for Monet. It would be fantastic if there were a wealth of information on her, but it seems she is to remain an enigma. I am eager to read a new book coming later this summer titled Monet and His Muse: Camille Monet in the Artist’s Life, written by Mary Mathews Gedo.

I visited the Dallas Museum of Art and was lucky that this month featured the exhibit of The Lens of Impressionism: Photography and Painting Along the Normandy Coast, 1850–1874. I was awe-inspired to be standing so close to paintings by Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, Edouard Manet, Degas and many others. It was a fantastic visit. A few of Monet’s earlier works were there. In one of the Monet’s there was a portrayal of a hotel, which is where Camille and Claude honeymooned in 1870, Hotel des Roches Noires in Trouville. The painting depicts an American Flag, which is quite unusual in Monet’s paintings. See the image here, the picture loader is not working at this moment. Is Camille in this painting? The couple vacationed with their friends as well during this honeymoon in Trouville.

In my search for Camille, I made the following compilation which includes both Monet and Renoir paintings of Camille. I included the Auguste Renoir paintings because the show a more vivid likeness of Camille, as opposed to Monet’s own very impressionistic style, with the wider strokes of the brush.

Turn up your volume to hear the accompanying music, Violin Concerto in E minor – Andante:

Also on the Round Table Bloggers agenda for today are:
Arleigh’s review of Claude and Camille at historical-fiction.com
A Guest Post featuring the author, Stephanie Cowell at Passages to the Past
See the main site for a full list of this week’s events, which conclude April 13th. Be on the lookout for special Monet-themed giveaways around the blogs as well.

6 Comments

Filed under Claude Monet, HF Bloggers Round Table, Stephanie Cowell

>HF Bloggers Round Table Review: Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell and Giveaway!

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Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell
April 6, 2010 by Crown Publishing
Hardcover: 352 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half stars!

Visit the main site for list of events!

“Sometimes he dreamt he held her; that he would turn in bed and she would be there. But she was gone and he was old. Nearly seventy. Only cool paint met his fingers. “Ma très chère . . .” Darkness started to fall, dimming the paintings. He felt the crumpled letter in his pocket. “I loved you so,” he said. “I never would have had it turn out as it did. You were with all of us when we began, you gave us courage. These gardens at Giverny are for you but I’m old and you’re forever young and will never see them..”



In the mid-nineteenth century, a young man named Claude Monet decided that he would rather endure a difficult life painting landscapes than take over his father’s nautical supplies business in a French seaside town. Against his father’s will, and with nothing but a dream and an insatiable urge to create a new style of art that repudiated the Classical Realism of the time, he set off for Paris.


But once there he is confronted with obstacles: an art world that refused to validate his style, extreme poverty, and a war that led him away from his home and friends. But there were bright spots as well: his deep, enduring friendships with men named Renoir, Cézanne, Pissarro, Manet – a group that together would come to be known as the Impressionists, and that supported each other through the difficult years. But even more illuminating was his lifelong love, Camille Doncieux, a beautiful, upper-class Parisian girl who threw away her privileged life to be by the side of the defiant painter and embrace the lively Bohemian life of their time.

His muse, his best friend, his passionate lover, and the mother to his two children, Camille stayed with Monet—and believed in his work—even as they lived in wretched rooms, were sometimes kicked out of those, and often suffered the indignities of destitution. She comforted him during his frequent emotional torments, even when he would leave her for long periods to go off on his own to paint in the countryside.

But Camille had her own demons – secrets that Monet could never penetrate, including one that when eventually revealed would pain him so deeply that he would never fully recover from its impact. For though Camille never once stopped loving the painter with her entire being, she was not immune to the loneliness that often came with being his partner.

A vividly-rendered portrait of both the rise of Impressionism and of the artist at the center of the movement, Claude and Camille is above all a love story of the highest romantic order.”

The inspiration and the beauty behind Claude Monet’s paintings have intrigued me for years. His impressionism style is a fantastically elegant thing that is really indescribable. When the news came that Stephanie Cowell was writing a novel about Claude and his lover Camille, I was so eager to get my inartistic hands on it. I had visited a Monet exhibit once in Las Vegas, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go, but I wish I had spent a longer time there. Like for a few days, perhaps. But, the line moves you along and boom your $30 bucks is spent. I just love his paintings and have for a long while, and I do own several Monet inspired gifty items.

Beginning to read the new novel, I had the feeling of something like a secret was about to be revealed to me. I could only hope that it lived up to my high expectations, and that of others. And it did. I found the read to be very pleasurable as Stephanie Cowell took me on a journey through Claude Monet’s life and into his heart as he struggled to reach his muse’s heart. Claude first saw Camille at a train station, and the visual of her plagued him for four years until he found her again, where she defied her family and stayed with Monet.

Instead of the somewhat tedious biography style type of read, the author Stephanie Cowell introduces Claude Monet to us as he is just another young man, struggling within the confines of a strict family. He is portrayed as the sensitive type, as expected, and is hurt badly when his mother dies. His father takes awhile to come around to Monet and to accept his artistic leanings, but we still empathize with the older man as he is forced to deal with the fact that his son will not be his father’s shadow. We witness Monet’s artistic tendencies as they develop and we meet some of the other famous painters of the time such as Renoir, Sisley and Bazille, and we learn of the struggles of the new impressionistic style of painting that he and his friends created.

We are weaved through the story of Claude as he struggles and continues to struggle, for in the whole book it seemed there was not an easy time for Claude Monet. He traveled from rented place to rented place, counting on hospitality and charity.. and through it all, his dearest inspiration Camille stuck by him. Camille, the girl who was bred to be a fine lady, fell in love with the artist and his dreams, and indulged Claude endlessly. The two seemed made for each other and it was a wonderful story to read about as I felt I had gotten to know part of the real Claude Monet through this writing of Stephanie Cowell.

I really enjoyed the small interludes the author inserted as the story briefly returned to Monet towards the end of his life, and I also felt that the author did well with the Parisian settings and the war. The imagery and visualization were quite palpable, as well as the utter despair and anguish that Monet repeatedly seemed to endure.

Since I shared a love for the French language with my father, I enjoyed the snippets of French words that the author inserted. Most of the time when the words were inserted, the English translation followed directly after, so that we would not be distracted at all with the french words there. Although, merde was said a lot, and the translation was not there, but that was the one cuss word that I had learned when I was twelve, with the admonition that it was used for luck for entertainers. I really enjoyed learning about the life of Claude and Camille, and I wish that it had been easier for him and his artistic friends.

I can totally see where readers of Claude and Camille who are current artists would relate to the same artistic frustrations of Monet, such as painting light and shadows and landscapes that shift with the wind. For that reason, I would not hesitate to recommend this artists as they can feel a kinship with a great painter of the past. I also recommend it for those who would enjoy an equally heart wrenching and heartwarming blend of romance, history and art.

Also today on the schedule is Author Guest Post w/sponsored giveaway at Historical-Fiction.com.
Visit my guest post featuring the author, Stephanie Cowell, here, and find your chance to win your own hardcover of Claude and Camille with that post, open to everyone in the USA.

And for now, we have a different type of giveaway! In honor of Claude Monet, I have a little Monet goodie pack to go out to one of my current followers, valued at over $15:

A brand new Monet bookmark featuring The Seine at Argenteuil
A brand new Monet Book of Postcards featuring 30 different images of his paintings
A brand new Monet magnet featuring his popular water lilies art

THIS IS NOT FOR THE BOOK!! This is for the items in the picture!

This is a special giveaway open to my current USA followers only.
Tell me you are a Current Follower, and leave your Email Address.

If you would like extra entries please do the following:
+2 Post the above Graphic on your blog’s sidebar, linking to this post, leave the link to your blog.
+1 Tweet this post, using the Retweet button at the top of the Post, leave a link to your tweet.

Good luck!
Ends April 16th
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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, HF Bloggers Round Table, Stephanie Cowell

>HF Bloggers Round Table: Author Stephanie Cowell: Growing up to write a novel about Claude Monet (Giveaway!)

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Please welcome Stephanie Cowell, author of the new release of Claude and Camille, as it is the main attraction for this month’s event at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table.

Growing up to write a novel about Claude Monet

By Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille

When I look back, I feel I was destined to write a novel about a painter and somehow settled on Claude Monet.

Bazille Studio

My parents were both artists. I grew up in the shadow of the easel, passing carefully by marmalade jars full of delicate sable brushes for pen and ink drawing, sturdier bigger ones for oil paint and colored pencils. My parents took me to museums and art exhibitions since my earliest memories when about all I could see were grown-up people’s legs and the bottoms of picture frames. Artists came to the house. The air always smelled of oil paint. And I learned the stories of the struggles of the great painters.

My mother taught at the famous Art Students’ League in New York City and one evening she took me with her. I was less than five years old and, quickly bored with her class on fashion illustration, wandered off down the hall to peek into another classroom. I was amazed at what I saw and rushed back crying, “Mommy, there’s a woman on the model stand and she has no clothes on!”

At age fifteen or so my mother also drew me half nude and hung it in the hallway, to the great amusement of my boyfriends when they came to see me. (Claude Monet did not paint nudes!)

But painting was the center of my life and even now, when I am tired of words as novelists can sometimes be, I wander in the Metropolitan Museum which is near my house and feel so enriched.

I discovered when I was very young, however, that I had no talent to draw or paint. One day my father let me try at his easel. I expected to have his skill but discovered no skill at all. It was rather embarrassing because, as I became a teenager and a young woman, people always asked me, “Do you draw like your mother?”

But one thing my parents admired of me was my ability to tell stories. And at one of my early readings, a woman turned to my mother and asked, “Do you write like your daughter?” My mother shook her head with a smile. And I think from that I learned that we all feel and love a great deal but the gift with which we express it is different: cooking, writing, sewing, gardening.
I still have my mother’s marmalade jar but now it is filled with pens.

~
Thank you so much to Stephanie for sharing with your readers the story behind your inspiration of your latest novel, Claude and Camille, which is available for purchase today!

Please visit the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table main page for the Calendar of Events featuring Stephanie and her novel Claude and Camille!

Here at The Burton Review I will have a review, a post on Camille and a goodie giveaway! (*And it’s not just a book!!)
There are many other fantastic giveaways that will be occurring, which are Monet related.. so be sure to keep up with the fantastic events this week! Today you will have two more chances for a giveaway at Passages to The Past and Historical-fiction.com

If you would like to win your very own copy of this book, then please comment on this post telling us anything you have previously learned about Monet or impressionism or if you have seen any of his paintings at a museum. LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.

For an extra point, tweet this post or facebook post it, leaving me a link to your status.
Book Giveaway open until April 16th to USA residents only.

Good Luck!

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Filed under Author Interviews, Author Post, HF Bloggers Round Table, Stephanie Cowell

>HF Bloggers Round Table: Book Review: The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

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The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick
Paperback: 592 pages
Sourcebooks Reissue March 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0751536591
Review copy provided by Sourcebooks, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars


The Legend of the Greatest Knight Lives On…
William Marshal’s skill with a sword and loyalty to his word have earned him the company of kings, the lands of a magnate, and the hand of Isabelle de Clare, one of England’s wealthiest heiresses. But he is thrust back into the chaos of court when King Richard dies. Vindictive King John clashes with William, claims the family lands for the Crown- and takes two of the Marshal sons hostage. The conflict between obeying his king and rebelling over the royal injustices threatens the very heart of William and Isabelle’s family. Fiercely intelligent and courageous, fearing for the man and marriage that light her life, Isabelle plunges with her husband down a precarious path that will lead William to more power than he ever expected.

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick is rumored to ‘stand-alone’ and said not to require one to read the previous book by Chadwick, The Greatest Knight. I would disagree, especially for newcomers to the Medieval era. If I hadn’t read The Greatest Knight (see my recent review), I would have had a fifty percent chance at finishing The Scarlet Lion. By reading the previous novel, I was able to become intrigued by the characters and get my mind around their habits and mindset (and fall in love with the Marshals). Once I began reading The Scarlet Lion, I thanked my lucky stars for getting the chance to read The Greatest Knight (hereafter abbreviated as TGK).

The reason for the luckiness is that The Scarlet Lion is much more low-key than TGK, and it is not written with the same sense of urgency and drama until the last half of the novel. It is still a great piece of work as I sense it is thoroughly researched and I appreciate the historical details. Dealing with the period of the late 1100’s, I was sucked into the dramas of the Angevin Kings in TGK much more so than what we have presented to us with The Scarlet Lion. And Queen Eleanor, whom I adore, was also more prominent in TGK. But with The Scarlet Lion, which picks up at year 1197, Eleanor is elderly and does die within a short time. And the remaining son who is King of England is her youngest son, John, who was once upon a time stylized as John Lackland because all of his elder brothers had multiple lands handed to them, but there was nothing left for John. And John didn’t seem to like that very much, as he is portrayed as an embittered, disgusting, vengeful and useless King. Records indeed indicate that his reign was quite disastrous.

The main protagonist is the sexy hunk of a man William Marshal. No, Chadwick never does actually come out and say he is sexy and masculine and gorgeous, but that’s how I’ve got him pictured from TGK, and he is indeed The Greatest Knight in my mind. Let him save me from my burning tower any day. To be fair, his wife is probably just as sexy and gorgeous, because these two folks get it on!!! I’ve lost count several times and couldn’t repeat their names, but the Marshals had somewhere around ten kids. Healthy ones. Ones that lived beyond birth! In fact, in the very first few pages of The Scarlet Lion we are welcoming a son into the family: ‘Ah,’ she said with satisfaction. ‘I was right, it is a boy. Ha-ha, fine pair of hammers on him too!’  Most of my reads have the royal babies being very much sought after, but never have they been as abundant as the Marshals. That was certainly a refreshing change of pace, to have babies popping out happily one after the other. William and Isabelle have wonderful sexual chemistry, so there is a bit of sexual content scattered throughout the book, but nothing too outlandish. I am pleased to say that William is not a whore monger who goes out and beds all the women in sight also (as the author tells us, anyway). So, it is a happy marriage, even with the cranky Irish mother-in-law, Aoife, but less so when King John I sinks his claws into William’s family and lands.

Oh, watch out for Aoife though.. rather, as Aoife says it (I just like typing Aoife), because it seems like she is hankering to put a spell on the Marshals..but it is just a heavy drop of dramatic foreshadowing. She says to watch out for the wolves.. sending chills and shivers down her daughter Isabelle’s spine.. oh whatever can she mean??? She means that while William is off protecting the idiot King John or the French or English Marshal lands, they are forgetting the lands that are Isabelle’s heritage in Ireland and that they must not let the evil Irish lords overstep their bounds. Or she means that King John is a wolf. King John I is keeping William kinda busy in Normandy and England, so of course we know what’s going to happen in Ireland. And it does.

Again, King John is a bad king. His character was so evil in this novel that I don’t think I could have my opinion changed. That being the case, for most of the novel I was silently screaming at William to run from King John to Ireland in order to at least protect Isabelle’s heritage. But instead, we watch William stand by King John as one blunder after the other follows William in his wake. We watch William and Isabelle’s offspring grow up and become heroic young men and the girls are betrothed in advantageous marriages. And Isabelle protects her Irish lands while of course William is away, and Isabelle is one tough lady when she lets herself be.

Since we don’t have the Angevin brothers’ angst in this novel, the political turmoil is focused on King Phillip of France against King John, the last Angevin brother standing which would have surprised everyone twenty years earlier. King Phillip of France is shrewd and cuts right to the point. He makes William an offer he cannot refuse. Is William going to go against King John? Could he ignore his oath to Queen Eleanor and the rest of her sons? How will King John take it? King John is shown here as a total jerk, and is hateful towards the Marshals. John had no sense of loyalty to his own family, thus the fact that his mother Queen Eleanor and her son King Richard favored the Marshals bore little meaning to King John, and perhaps even that made it worse. Bit by bit, King John whittles away at the lands, titles and the happy marriage that the Marshals have, and the reader is forced to turn the page with trepidation as King John strikes again and again. (Die King John, DIE!)

Finally, King John does die, but still leaves Marshal with the sense of loyalty to England that none can compare to. Even though in his sixties, William agrees to become the regent of England for John’s young nine year old son, Henry. There are more battles to fight though, and his sons may be with him or against him. The last quarter of the novel makes up for the lackluster beginning of this read, because it did take awhile to get my heart into this one. William Marshal stayed true to character, as the greatest knight, and the last third of the book made up for the slow beginnings.

I was thankful for the helpful family charts at the beginning of book, as well as a few maps to aid us in placing William’s whereabouts while doing King John’s bidding. The story had a slower pace, but not as many new-to-me words as TGK had for me, thankfully. Isabelle was featured a bit more due to the Irish lands angle, and due to the strife that King John knowingly put into her marriage; she was always listening quietly to gossip or heeding warnings. I enjoyed learning more about William Marshal and his family, but did not feel as in tune to the historical aspect of the story until the second half when the drama started to pick up.

Elizabeth Chadwick has been described as “a gifted novelist and a dedicated researcher; it doesn’t get any better than that” by my own favorite medieval author Sharon Kay Penman. If my opinion counts, Sharon Kay Penman would be first, and Jean Plaidy and Elizabeth Chadwick are presently battling it out for second place. I recommend this William Marshal series for any medieval history fan. Those new to medieval times may be a little less in awe to the story, and for them I would recommend Penman, of course, specifically the series that begins with When Christ and His Saints Slept. For those simply wanting the story of the greatest, most loyal and most chivalrous knight that ever lived, Chadwick’s William Marshal series is your primary source for that. She will make you fall in love with William Marshal with her unforgettable story of his life, as his memory is finally being given its just rewards. William Marshal fans will be delighted to learn that in one of her next releases, To Defy A King, the story focuses on William’s eldest daughter, Mahelt Marshal who married Hugh Bigod, and includes some of the other siblings within the storyline. But To Defy a King is a sequel to a novel that will be published by Sourcebooks in the fall of 2010 titled For The King’s Favour.

Please visit the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Calendar of Events to see the rest of the posts that have been scheduled for this event. As always, we will have guest posts, a 2 book giveaway, and reviews. I will have a guest post from Elizabeth Chadwick regarding the curse that was put on the Marshal lineage, and I also have my own post focused on the Marshals in Ireland.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=A7E17A&fc1=204409&lc1=1E4E93&t=theburrev-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=1402225180And don’t forget to visit the Facebook Fan Page for the Round Table!
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=A7E17A&fc1=204409&lc1=1E4E93&t=theburrev-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=1402229992For a giveaway of both of these novels, please check the main site at this post and enter there.

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Filed under 2010 Releases, 2010 Review, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth Chadwick, HF Bloggers Round Table, King John, Medieval Era, William Marshal

>Giveaway:HF Bloggers Round Table: The Secret of the Glass Event: Marriage or Cloister?

>Welcome to the continuation of the Round Table Week promoting The Secret of the Glass. Read my review of The Secret of The Glass here.

ENTER TO WIN THIS PENDANT AT THE MAIN HFBRT SITE!

You have two chances to win Donna Russo Morin’s newest historical novel, The Secret of the Glass.
The Round Table is giving away 1 paperback copy to a lucky participant who comments at the main site at http://historicalfictionroundtable.com/?p=175. A separate giveaway is running for the beautiful glass pendant featured above, click the picture to reach that contest form.

You can also qualify for the book giveaway of the ARC of The Secret of the Glass by following the instructions at the end of this post.

Marriage or Cloister? Which would you choose?


For devotes, the alternative to marriage was clear. The woman who did not marry had no respectable option but to embrace the religious life. “Maritus aut murus” – a husband or a cloister – these were her only choices. By custom and by law she was considered too weak to live otherwise. “The common expression which tells parents to give their daughter ‘either a husband or a cloister’ seems to be based on hidden law by which woman is born to spend her life under the control and the guidance of others.” ~ The Devotes: Women and Church in Seventeenth-Century France By Elizabeth Rapley

Although focusing on France, the above quote holds true for Venice in the time of Donna Russo Morin’s newest novel, The Secret of the Glass. The additional hindrance adding to the sad reality of the above quote was the fact that Italy had an impossible dowry system for many of the families. The fifteenth century saw a huge inflation to a required dowry in order to secure a suitable mate for a dreaded daughter. Many women were forced into convents due to the lack of a dowry, which was set at an extremely high amount. What was originally supposed to be treated as an inheritance for the bride to retain at the end of said marriage, became something that was inevitably lost to the future husband. Families struggled to obtain these large sums that the high dowries dictated as it was a harsh reality that had to be adhered to if hopes of a good lineage was to be obtained for anyone in the family. More than likely, the rest of the daughters were to be cloistered in a convent, some of which in those days were reputed to be no better than a brothel.  
Nun in cloister

In reading Sarah Dunant’s novel, Sacred Hearts in 2009 (my review), this issue regarding a young woman’s future was also considered a main theme. This story had focused on the women who were indeed compelled to choose God as their only mate as they were forced into a strict convent. In Dunat’s novel it also was apparent that the family who had enough money could at least choose a better convent as opposed to one not so popular. Some convents had access to funds from wealthier patrician families offering better foods, books, music or perhaps customs were not so strict as others. Interestingly enough, “nun” and the religious form of “sister” have distinct meanings in the Catholic Church, in most cases determined by the vows they take, solemn vows vs. simple vows, and the amount of good works devoted to the poor that are expected. To become a nun and live in a Catholic convent, the main requirement that is different that others is that one must eventually take the solemn vows and and recite the Liturgy of the Hours or other prayers within the convent community. A humble and honorable vocation indeed, and is to be admired and revered.

In The Secret of the Glass, the daughters are faced with the reality that when the elder sister marries, there will be no dowry money left to ‘purchase marriages’ for those daughters that remain.The main significance that the imposed dowry system imparts is the fact that women were essentially treated as a piece of property, to be bought and sold according to social status. In Dante’s Paradiso, he observed the contrasts between his time and that of the times of his great-great-grandfathers. The great-great-grandfather had not yet seen the high inflation of the dowry, and therefore was not privy to that sinking feeling of despair when a daughter was born. Yet, if you were of a wealthy, noble patrician family, more than one daughter could be provided for with the dowry system which would maintain the family’s higher social status. Through wills the wealthy would bequeath money to specific convents, or to a female family member for contributions to their dowry.

What is most mind-boggling is the reason why the dowries inflated so much, as there is no clear and specific reason for this. There were a myriad of forces at work from governmental loans and debts that were high, small costs of living and materials increases, and the inevitable supply and demand of the market with which to secure a future within a patrician family. In regards specifically to Venice, there seems to have been a favorable environment to increase and enourage the high dowries within the ruling class, with a widening circle of dowry contributors to promote lineage.  In Rome and Venice, when a father died, the sons were to take care of the daughters and the dowry; if there were no sons, the dowry responsibilites went back up the line through the male ascendants of the deceased father. When there are absolutely no male family members to be found, it is possible that the maternal side of the family would be responsible to help provide a dowry for the daughter.

Imagine yourself.. a second sister.. there is no money left over to buy you a suitable marriage. Before you are born, this fate has been set for you. When the time comes for you to grow up, you are sent to a convent to live out the rest of your days, regardless of what the extent of your devotion to God is. You have no hope for children of your own, to know the carnal knowledge of a man, never to have a home to call your own, no items of worth, not many secret treasures, no books other than the bible, seeing your family only sparingly… Such is the predicament for Sophia’s sisters in Morin’s The Secret of the Glass, unless Sophia figures out a way to change the sands of time.

In celebration of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table event, I am offering up to one lucky USA winner my gently read advanced reader’s copy of The Secret of the Glass, as well as a handmade bookmark featuring some glass beads (made by me so don’t laugh openly), but you must answer this question:

What do you think you would prefer, if you were a young woman and perhaps in Sophia’s shoes, who is betrothed to a man who she detests? Could you choose to become cloistered as a nun for the rest of your life almost in a state of poverty and neglect (depending on the convent)? Or would you prefer to at least have some material comforts in life and choose to marry someone who is horrid to you and treats you as a piece of furniture?

1 entry: Please provide your email address in your comment. (mandatory answer to question!!)
For extra +1 entry, follow this blog.
For extra +2 entries, put this graphic linking to this post in your blog’s sidebar:

Bookmark and Book Giveaway!
Contest ends March 6, 2010.

Open to USA addresses only.
GOOD LUCK!

Don’t forget to visit the HF Bloggers Round Table main site for a complete listing of events, from reviews, giveaways to more creative posts!
New posts for today include Book Review by Susie at All Things Royal and a new set of interview questions with the author Donna Russo Morin also at the main site. There is also a look at The Courtier’s Secret, Donna Russo Morin’s previous novel set in the time of Louis XIV.

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Filed under Donna Russo Morin, HF Bloggers Round Table, Venice