While researching The Game of Hope, intrepid traveller and fellow Francophil Ann Coombs sent me photos she took at a special exhibition at Malmaison. This was the one that took my breath away:
It’s a mock-up of the house Josephine rented before she met Napoleon, then on Rue Chantereine. After his victories in Italy, the street was renamed Rue de la Victoire, and Josephine had the house decorated in a military theme, a style she used again years later at Malmaison.
The tented entry is very like the one she added to Malmaison:
I thought Josephine made the tented addition to the house after marrying Napoleon, but according to “The House on the Rue de la Victorie” by Ira Grossman, she did this before she’d even met Napoleon. “She turned the terrace of the house into a veranda under a wooden tent which was hung with cotton draperies and decorated with painted or carved flags and pennants.”
It was especially exciting to see a mock-up of Chantereine because there was so very little known about this house. In writing about Hortense, I had a more accurate sense of the place.
Click here to read more of what I’ve discovered about enchanting Chantereine.
See also: The House on the Rue de la Victoire.SaveSave
Remember the first photos of Earth from space? It created a sea-change in our perspective.
As a child, my father found it amusing how disturbed I was by the idea of infinity. I am challenged anew, and in a rather marvellous way, seeing this amazing NASA video.
The word “perspective” has many meanings. It is an old word, dating from 1300s.
1387: Aristotle..made..problemys of perspective [L. perspectiva problemata] and of methaphesik.
a1661 W. Brereton (1844) 60 Wm. Daviseon offered to furnish me with a couple of these perspectives, which shew the new-found motion of the stars about Jupiter.
1692 tr. C. de Saint-Évremond 280 By the means of great Perspectives, which Invention becomes more perfect every Day, they discover new Planets.
1605 Bacon ii. sig. Hh3, We haue endeauoured in these our Partitions to observe a kind of perspectiue, that one part may cast light vpon another.
It’s this last, the sense of “putting things in perspective,” that this NASA video vividly evokes for me. What do our own small lives matter, after all?
I am consoled by William Blake’s lines from Auguries of Innocence:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
I begin each day working to create a world on the page. Every age has its moment of wonder, of awe, of expanded perspective. I’m wondering what that moment was for Hortense at the end of the 18th century.
Worth reading …
The Incident of the Fly Swatter, a blog post on Wonders & Marvels, on some historical perspective on the relationship between France and the Muslim world.
Yesterday was a crazy day: I sent out a newsletter, the U.S. paperback edition of The Shadow Queen came out, and — quite by coincidence — my INK e-book edition of The Shadow Queen launched in the UK and beyond.
Any one of these requires quite a bit of on-line attention, but to have all three in one morning?
By 11:00, I decided I needed a walk, so I went out to buy watercolour supplies for the class I’m taking this afternoon. Very therapeutic!
And soon … to the beach, where I will be reading the 4th draft of The Game of Hope with an editorial eye. I put the novel aside December 1. It will be interesting to read it afresh.
Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman. Excellent. Highly recommended.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. I’m only a few chapters in and I love it already. Will it last? I very rarely read speculative fiction. I suspect this one will hold me.
I explained in my last post what the Writers’ Blog Tour is about. Basically, writers answer the same four questions:
Why do I write what I do?
What am I working on?
How does my work differ from other work in its genre?
How does my writing process work?
I answered the first question yesterday, and so, for today, here’s the second:
What am I working on?
I’m back in the Napoleonic era after more than a decade away, writing about Josephine Bonaparte’s daughter Hortense. It’s a familiar world, but it’s also quite new to me, because this is a Young Adult novel. I’m finding it creatively stimulating to be tackling a new genre.
The novel is written from Hortense’s point-of-view during her teen years, and is therefore an entirely different perspective from that of her mother, who is the point-of-view character of my Josephine B. Trilogy.
Delving back into a once-very-familiar world has been an interesting—and pleasant—experience. The late 18th century feels so modern compared to the 17th! (The setting for my last two novels.)
Having previously immersed myself in the Napoleonic era for near-on two decades, one would think I wouldn’t have to do very much research. Wrong! There are new books and studies available, and there’s a ton more information on line. Although I have quite a leg-up (a 556-page timeline—single space, small type—for starters, and stacks and stacks of files), there is no such thing as no need to research. In any case, how can one resist?
Tomorrow: How does my work differ from other work in its genre? This, as you can imagine, is a thought-provoking question!
I sent out a newsletter on the 1st of the month, in time for Groundhog’s Day (or Candelaria in my winter part of the world). If you’re not on the subscriber list, you may read “On groundhogs, duets & lists” here.
I’m happy to see that the ebook special for The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. is still on: under $2.00. (I was told that it would end February 2, so I’m pleased.)
I’m in the habit of emailing myself articles to later note on this blog. My inbox has gotten way out of hand, so I’m going to clip away at it from the bottom up. Here is one note I’ve long wanted to share:
Leslie Fulton, who writes the delightful blog Pepy’s Wife, has filled out a book survey and I was very pleased to see that Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe was her answer to the question, “Best sequel ever,” and further, that she described the Trilogy as a tour de force. (Go, Josephine!) (And thank you, Leslie!)
I love to see Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe singled out: a difficult middle child of the Trilogy, it was a challenge to write. Bestselling author Anna Quindlen recently listed it as one of her top 5 favourite love stories. (Sigh.)
I’m so busy! Writing the 2nd draft of The Game of Hope (working title of the first Hortense YA novel), preparing for publication of The Shadow Queen (soon!), a winter round of ailments, website renovation, etc. etc. etc. Where does time go? Please forgive me for not showing up here more often. Hang in!