Jun 26, 2010

Lessons in French

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!