Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Bloggiversary with Author Interview and Fantastic GIVEAWAY!!!

Enchanted by Josephine celebrates its 1st year Bloggiversary!!!  
What started out with the idea of writing about what I love most- my passion for history, reading and writing, blossomed into a world that expanded into so much more than that.  (If you’d like to view that very first post, see here:   ) My bookblog has led me to meeting some of the nicest like-minded people I would have otherwise never met.  I’ve shared books, ideas, creations and a passion for history that has done more for my spirit and knowledge than solitary reading enjoyment could ever have fulfilled.  I’m thankful to all my readers and good friends out there- You made this all possible!

Along the way, I’ve also met fantastic historical fiction writers that have completely mesmerized me with their tales of intrigue, passion, sorrow and regality.  And, one very special author in particular, Sandra Gulland, has been instrumental in my starting to blog about history…and my favourite historical figure, Josephine…

For this merry occasion, the incredibly talented, Sandra Gulland, author of the Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun, has kindly agreed to grace my blog with this terrific interview! 

Please welcome, Sandra Gulland!!!

 Previously, I mentioned how Josephine is my muse for inspiration.  Can you tell us who or what inspires you to create the exquisite books you write? Do you have a muse?
Thank you, Lucy! I love books, and always wanted to write one. My muse? Research, I think: I’m always inspired as soon as I begin.

I am always fascinated by the way you bring out the endearing qualities in your heroines that other historical writers often fail to see or underline; especially Josephine, and Louise as well.  How do you choose your heroines-what is it about them that makes you want to write their story?
I became fascinated with Josephine quite by accident. When I began to write, Josephine appeared only as a shadow — and then, by degrees, the work came to be about her.

It seems that a question, a simple curiosity, starts it off. For Josephine, I was curious about the prediction that was made in her youth, that she would become “more than a queen.” Could it be true? (It was.) For Louise, I was curious how a timid young woman could become such an incredible horsewoman...and then mistress to the married Sun King. She was devout: how did she reconcile this with her faith?

I don’t really choose my heroines — rather, I become interested in a person, and then one thing leads to another. At a certain point, I have to ask: Is there a story here? And so far the answer has always been yes. 

We are very curious to learn about your next project.  Can you please tell us a bit about that? Any similarities between the heroine of your next book and those of past?
Claude des Oeillets is very different from both Josephine and Louise. She was raised by her actor-parents on the road, and although she had a daughter by the Sun King, she was never more than a confidential maid to his mistress, Madame de Montespan. Both Josephine and Louise were of the lower nobility. Claude is not noble in the least.

What I love about her (in addition to her spunk) is her involvement in the fascinating world of the theater. It was the period of the French theatrical renaissance. Claude’s mother was a theatrical super-star, yet even so, it was a life of constant poverty, and a way of life considered to be profoundly sinful by the Church. Actors were shunned! No doubt Claude thought her problems were solved when she got a position as maid to a woman of the Court, Madame de Montespan — only to become embroiled in a world of witchcraft and poison.

It’s a big story!

Since today is a festive day here on EBJ- we’d also love to hear about any special anniversaries or festive times foreseen for 2010 that you may be part of or planning.
Every year, just before New Year’s Eve, my husband and I and our two adult children share our resolutions for the year ahead. Last year, my main resolution was to finish the first draft of Claude’s story: and I did! My resolution for the year 2010 will be to finish a second and third draft. When I send that last draft to my agent, I will be feeling quite festive! 
Lastly, can you tell us something memorable about your travels and what your favourite destination is?
Paris is my favorite destination: always. How lovely that my research takes me there so often! My husband and I will be returning in the spring, staying in the neighborhood where Claude des Oeillets lived.

One memorable trip was a private tour through the chateau of Fontainebleau, into the dark and cob-webbed servants’ quarters. Every trip is a revelation.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog. Congratulations!

Thank You so much, Sandra !

And now...  for this very First Bloggiversary, I have a special GIVEAWAY to give homage to my Muse…someone you’ve no doubt come to learn about and love (not much choice on that if you stick around here awhile;)  the beloved namesake of my blog:  Josephine! This historical muse has inspired me to read, write and illustrate about that enchanting time which is the past. So, quite appropriately, to help celebrate this memorable year,  I will be selecting 3 winners for a fantabulous GIVEAWAY of:

 ALL 3 COURTESY OF Sandra Gulland and Diane Saarinen!!!  Can you think of a better mix than this amazing Author and fantastic Assistant!  These ladies are terrific- Thank you so much for making this possible!
 Open to US and Canada   Winners announced on Jan.3rd, 2010
To Enter:
1 Chance:  Leave a Comment
2 Chances every time you tweet or blog about this (send me the link)
3 Chances: Become a Follower of my blog (If you're already a follower, you get this automatically).
5 Chances: Post about this on your Sidebar
5 EXTRA Bonus Points for every new follower referred by you (mention this in your comments)

Good Luck to All! 
Once again, Thank you for celebrating this wonderful day with meJ  You guys are great and I appreciate all your kind support throughout.

What a great way to close up the year..and with this, I wish you all a Very Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer

Hurray for another excellent Heyer novel! Set in the time of Louis XV’s reign in France, the Duke of Avon, a distinguished English noble known for his no-heart aloofness, succumbs to what appears as accomplishing a good deed- though, for everything there is a purpose...

The story originates with the Duke of Avon claiming a street fight with a young hoodlum late one night. After some ruffling, the Duke discovers that the boy is actually running from his brother. The Duke ends up saving the boy from this terrible fate by purchasing’ him for a price- literally. The young man (figuratively speaking) becomes the Duke’s page- his name, Leon.

Leon owes his (?) life to the Duke and is forever thankful to him. He shows his gratitude through honorable service and total loyalty- he absolutely adores the Duke and is totally awestruck by him. The Duke has his reasons for having purchased this ‘page’…there is much similarity between this young man and his notorious rival, the Comte de Saint-Vire. What is the relation exactly? The Duke soon finds out and is ready to accomplish his mission. Leon primed and prepared by the Duke’s sister, will be presented in due time for his ‘debut’…

In all his nobility, the Duke, who is renowned for his grandness and, is an honoured and well received guest among the Royals. Everyone in high circles knows who he is; though his popularity is more due to the fear he brings along with his shrewd and calculating ways. As it would seem there is an alterior motive for the Duke taking such time to care and prepare Leon…will he use the page as a revenge or payback towards St-Vire? And what is so strange about this Page? Hmmm…These Old Shades is intriguing, comical, historical and entertaining, all in one.

You have got to get this book! For anyone who loves Heyer, this book will fulfill more than it promises. The period and characters are wonderfully described- it’s 18th c France and England at its best. There’s even mention of the Duke’s encountering Louis XV, the Queen, Madame De Pompadour, and other favourite historical figures. Set in my very favourite historical period, These Old Shades is destined to top my Heyer list.

Loved it! 

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for sending me this entertaining book:)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We Wish you....

Many Blessings for A Wonderful Holiday Season!! And hope you've had a very Merry Christmas too!!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Announcing 2nd Winner of Giveaway....

And here's to my Second Winner of Searching for Pemberley:


Congratulations!!!! Please email me your contact info:D

Announcing Giveaway WINNER...

On this picture perfect snowy winter day here in Montreal, I am delighted to announce my tropically sunny Floridian winner of Searching for Pemberley...

The Winner is...

Laura Hartness of The Calico Critic!!!

Congratulaitions Laura!!  Please email me your contact info:D

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Author Guest Post + GIVEAWAY!!

Today, I have the great pleasure of receiving Mary Lydon Simonsen


author of Searching for Pemberley, here on Enchanted by Josephine!

Thank you, Lucy, for inviting me to post on your blog! Today I’ll talk a little bit about why I chose post-World War II England for the setting of my latest book, Searching for Pemberley, and why I decided to write my novel from an American point of view.

“Write what you know” is a basic rule for many authors. Because I am a baby boomer, I grew up hearing stories from my parents and aunts and uncles about their wartime and postwar experiences. My mother and father had lived in Washington, D.C. throughout the war, and like everyone else in the District of Columbia, they worked for the government. My uncles fought in the Pacific and European theater of operations, and one aunt worked for a government agency in a bombed out Berlin in 1945. I wanted to know everything about their experiences, and when I began to write Searching for Pemberley, I drew on many of their stories for my novel, including that of my main character, Maggie Joyce, who worked for the State Department in Washington during the war.

I have often thought that I was born one generation too late because I love everything about the 1930s (except for the Great Depression) and the 1940s (excluding a war being fought across the breadth of Asia and Europe). The clothes, music, dances, and movies of those decades have great appeal for me. Like my parents, Maggie grew up in Minooka, a dirty coal-mining town in the Pocono Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, during the Depression era. In order to escape the ugliness outside her window, she would read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and be transported to a simpler time.

Ever since I first read Austen’s novel decades ago in my high school English class, I have been reading about the Regency Era. It was a time of balls staged in candlelit ballrooms, where women, attired in Empire dresses, performed complicated dance steps with their partners, men who would be dressed in a dark coat, waistcoat, elaborate neckcloth, breeches, and high leather boots, and where “polite” society was truly polite and followed an unwritten set of rules about how a man and woman would interact.

After the war, Maggie goes to work for the Army Exchange Service in London where she learns that the characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, the main characters in Pride and Prejudice, may have been based on real people, William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison. She travels to Montclair Manor in Derbyshire, which may be the storied Pemberley, to find out. While there, she is befriended by Jack and Beth Crowell, who live in a nearby village, and who know if the legend is true. They have their own love story, which is set against the background of the First World War.

In Searching for Pemberley, the epic events of World War I and World War II are contrasted with the elegance of the Regency Era, so I had the three time periods that I was most interested in in one book and where decades of reading and research were put to good use.

The experience of growing up during the Depression and being swept up in the great political and military events of the Second World War shaped the people of my parents’ generation. I admired their perseverance in overcoming the poverty of their youth as well as how they answered the call of their nation to go fight in a war in places so far from home and so different from their own experiences, which is why I chose to write Searching for Pemberley from an American point of view. I wanted to tell their stories. One of those young people affected by these great events is Maggie Joyce, who wanted to get beyond the Pocono Mountains into the wider world, and went to live in England, a country still reeling from the devastation caused by German bombs. While living in London, she meets two men: Rob, an American and former bomber pilot, who saw too much combat, and Michael, a possible descendant of the Lacey/Darcy line. Maggie must choose between the two and, hopefully, will find her own Mr. Darcy.


Set against Regency England, World Wars I and II, and postwar England, three love stories intertwine in surprising and fateful ways

American Maggie Joyce, touring Derbyshire in 1947, visits, Montclair, an 18th century Georgian country house, that she is told was the model for Jane Austen's Pemberley. More amazingly, the former residents of the mansion, William Lacey and Elizabeth Garrison, were the inspiration for the characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

Through letters, diary entries, and oral history, Beth and Jack Crowell, a couple who lives in the nearby village of Crofton, share stories of the people they say inspired Jane Austen. They also tell their own love story, made difficult by their vastly different backgrounds—she was one of the social elite while he was the son of a servant. When their son, Michael, travels home from his RAF station in Malta, Maggie may have just found her very own Mr. Darcy.

About the Author
Mary Simonsen grew up in North Jersey with the exciting venues of New York City easily accessible. She is largely self-educated and is especially interested in American and European history and 19th Century novels. In Searching for Pemberley she was able to combine her love of history (World War II and postwar England) with Austen's characters, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, and being a romantic, the novel includes three love stories from three different time periods, all thanks to Jane Austen. She lives in Peoria, Arizona. For more information, please visit http://searchingforpemberley.weebly.com/


Sourcebooks is graciously giving away 2 copies of this wondeful book.  Thank you Danielle! 

Open to Canada and US.


1 chance:  Leave a comment telling me what you found most interesting in this guestpost.

5 chances: Become a follower (if you're already a follower, you automatically get this)

5 extra chances for:  every time you Tweet or blog about this

10 bonus for putting this on your sidebar

***Make sure you leave me all links in your comment;)

Good Luck to All!!

Winner announced on December 23rd.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ABC Historical Fiction Challenge: Letter B

Today is the 15th- the fortnight of my post for the letter B for Historical Tapestry’s ABC Challenge. For this one I’ve chosen to blog about:

The Raucous Royals, by Carlyn Beccia

I loved reading about the gossip and truths in this wonderfully illustrated history book. I read it together with my youngest daughter, Sophia. She also helped write the review for it. You can read that here. 

Beccia kept us entertained throughout by doing a fantastic job at retelling history in a unique and creative way. She also helped set a lot of the facts straight. This was the most enjoyable history –geared-to-children book I’ve ever read. The reason behind this is that The Raucous Royals is an interactive book that motivates the reader to keep on reading just to satisfy the curiosity. The gossip is simply irresistible- the images captivating and the history completely accurate. It’s become a family favourite.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ANNOUNCING A New Historical Fiction Site!!!!

Do you remember back in September when a few blogger friends and I  got together for The Historical Fiction Blogger Round Table Event?  It was an idea that originated from Marie of The Burton Review.  She let the bug out and it soon spread into this  phenomenal creative energy that had us posting giveaways, reviews, creative posts, author guest posts and interviews..and so much more.

Well...Since that wonderful event was such a huge success, all eight of us historically-crazed- ladies decided to get together and make it an official site!

Charter Members:

Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
Amy at Passages to the Past
Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com
Heather at The Maiden's Court
Lizzy at Historically Obsessed
Marie at The Burton Review

The Historical Fiction Blogger Round Table site will be the hub place for new historical fiction releases involving author announcements, giveaways and all other release events scheduled on a monthly basis- and linked to our own individual blogs.  I could go on and on- but to get a picture of what I'm talking about, please visit our new site and feel free to leave a comment:)

We love our readers- so please come follow as well!  2010 will be an exciting year for readers of Historical Fiction with fantastic authors ready to delight us with stories of the past screaming to be told.

Be sure to join the fun- See you there!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book Moments: A Few More Challenges...

My motto is:  Since I'm already reading... I may as well Challenge myself;)

So, I've added the ABC Challenge that is hosted by Historical Tapestry. It's a fun one because you get to post about books that you have both, read in the past, or are presently reading, according to the letter assigned. This works for first letter of titles, character names, author. It's do-able!

The next challenge I've joined begins January 2010 and will end in December 2010:  The Historical Reading Challenge, hosted by the ladies at Royal Reviews.
Of course I love this one because it requires I read what I read best- historical fiction!


'There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 Historical Fiction novels.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 Historical Fiction novels.

-- Addicted – Read 12 Historical Fiction novels.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 Historical Fiction novels.'

For now, I'm aiming for the Obsessed level.  I think I can manage 20 HF novels in a year (especially since that's pretty much all I read)...hmmm, let's see!

And another:  The Art History Reading Challenge.

The 4 levels of Participation are:
  • Curious - Read at least 3 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
  • Fascinated  - Read at least 6 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
  • Enamored- Read at least 9 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
  • Utterly enchanted - Read at least 12 books about art, either fiction or non-fiction.
I'll start with Curious...but bet I'll end up with Fascinated!

What are you joining?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Announcing GIVEAWAY Winner...

Happy Monday Everyone!

The Winner of Jane Austen's cumulative works (red background instead of blue)

Northanger Abbey- Lady Susan- The Watsons- Sandition is...

Laura Fabiani!!!

Congratulations Laura! Please email me your contact info.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Book Review : The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen + GIVEAWAY!!

  The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Brilliant! What happens when the lost memoirs of the adored author, Jane Austen, are found in a long-lost and forgotten trunk? Syrie James rewrites the author’s secret memoirs to reveal a poignant tale of dreams, love and the surrendering of hope. Bliss and sadness meshed into a story that could end in no other way…

In The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, her soul mate, Mr. Ashford, is the great, yet impossible love of her life. Taking us through her father’s death and relocation of her family (sister Cassandra and her mother)from one brother’s house to another, Jane retells how through various acquaintances she meets her Mr. Right. The story, resembling many of her own writings, does not take the smooth road to bliss. Mr. Ashford was betrothed to the young Isabella since birth- a commitment he cannot reverse…or can he? The turn of fate that is presented leads Jane and Frederick (Mr. Ashton) back into eachother’s arms..but for how long?

Brilliantly written, James blends historical facts with fiction to bring us a credible memoir that may ultimately lead to wishing it were so…

Like waking from a dream that you wish were reality, the disappointment quickly fades and you’ll be delighted to have been indulged in a purely splendid tale that would have made Jane Austen very proud.

I absolutely LOVED this Austen spin-off and highly recommend it. It’s an easy read that keeps you entertained from beginning to end. ..How I wish it were so!

I'm pleased to say that this completes my six reads for The Everything Austen Challenge! I thoroughly enjoyed reading these books- giving me good reason to finally get them off my TBR list:)

Please note that I am also entering this one for a new Challenge started by the wonderful blog, Historical Tapestry:

The ABC Historical Fiction Challenge for ther Letter A (Austen)

In the spirit of this excellent read and to further the enjoyment of Austen books, I’ve decided to do a GIVEAWAY in honour of this exceptional author…

I’m giving away one gently used copy of:  JANE AUSTEN NORTHANGER ABBEY-Lady Susan-The Watsons-Sandition.

This book contains 4 of the 6 books I read for this challenge.  I hope the lucky winner will enjoy this as much as I have. (Please note that the cover on the one I'm giving away is red- not blue as the one shown in image.)

Open to Canada and US

To Enter:
1 Chance: Leave a comment telling me what you love most about Jane Austen’s books
2 Chances: for every time youTwitter or Blog about this Giveaway(send me the thread)
3 Chances: Post this Giveaway on your sidebar
5 Chances: Become a Follower of my blog (If you’re already a follower, you get this automatically)

Winner announced on December 7th

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Historical Flavour of The Week: Henrietta-Maria of France-Happy Birthday too!

This is one feisty lady with a streak of stubbornness, determination, unswerving loyalty to theCatholic religion and undying love and faithfulness to her husband Charles I of England.

Henrietta Maria was born 400 years ago today. Her illustrious ancestry makes it that she was the daughter of the Great Bourbon King, Henri IV and Marie De Medici- no ordinary- quiet- lifestyle personalities either…

Born the youngest child in her family, she barely knew her father the Great King; he was assassinated before she even turned one. Henrietta Maria would grow up to be a very charming bright-eyed princess with a case of strong personality to spice things up.

She met Charles I after he had declined to marry the Infanta of Spain. Although he immediately took a liking to her, it took a while for the two to become compatible- to say the least. Henrietta was quite argumentative and could not do without her grand entourage that she hauled over from France to be by her side. To make matters more difficult for the King of England, his pretty Queen was a Catholic with a zest for conversion as her ultimate goal.

Their life together decidedly got better when the Duke of Buckingham, Charles greatest friend and confidant, died; leaving the King to rely and confide solely in his wife. She had finally earned her right as confidante and closest ally to the King. The King also managed to convince her that ridding herself from her French staff and followers would be beneficial to get their marriage back on the right track. When all that was cleared up, things finally settled and from that point on the two were inseparable in both love and royal business.

The marriage produced six children. The firstborn, Charles II was different from the rest. Henrietta considered him to be very ugly, too tall, but irresistibly charming with the distinguishing advantage of being born with a grand and definite kingly allure. Her last child would be her favourite; Henrietta –Anne, or Minette, as she was often called (read about her here).

Henrietta Maria dedicated much of her time helping the King with his business, and of course, a lot of the country’s turmoil had to do with Royalty and religion. The Puritans, whom Henrietta Maria hated because of their rigidity, fervor, and ugly ‘roundheads’ as she called them, had much to do with the doomed fate of the English King.

No sooner were they separated due to the aggressive and fast-paced circumstances, Charles was imprisoned and then soon after beheaded. By that time Henrietta had already fled, as agreed by both to be the best solution. She was in France when she heard about the tragedy. This was a devastating blow she would never get over from.

During her time in France, Henrietta managed to care for her baby, Minette while she raised money to help re-install the monarchy through Charles II, her son. All the while, being a fervent believer and promoter of the Catholic faith, Henrietta also founded a convent, where she later lived.

Henrietta Maria of France, Queen Consort of England, Scotland and Ireland was mother to two kings: Charles II and James II. She was also grandmother to Mary II, William III and Anne of Great Britain.

I just finished reading a Jean Plaidy book on her: Myself My Enemy, which was fabulous to say the least. If you wish,
you can read my review here.

Interesting Tid-Bits:
I was so interested to learn that the state of Maryland was named after her by her husband. Also named after her is Cape Henrietta Maria in Northern Ontario, where James Bay and Hudson Bay meet.
Another, but very tainting and not so pleasant fact: there was a slave ship carrying slaves to the US that sank in the Key West named after her as well.

British Civil Wars, Britannica,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Book Moments.. My Romanticized AMR List

For me there’s nothing better than the comforting feeling of curling up with a good book and a cup of tea- Except that these days that’s a real cliché…
It's more like- Hurry! Read, Read, Read!
It s seems like I have more of my share to read than I can actually handle.  The problem is that a lot of the books on my TBR list are for me ABSOLUTE -MUST –READS; now how’s that possible?  Am I the only one?
Let me tell you a bit about some of the books on my list- it wouldn’t be so bad if that’s where they stayed…The problem is that now they’ve become a constant ‘think- about- getting-to’. Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t have it any other way- I actually live for this kind of adrenaline-and I will get to them probably faster than my worries will have me stressing...but still!
Right now here are the books I’m dying to read; which are part of what I have now renamed my AMR list (Absolutely-Must Read- List). They’re not necessarily all for review (could be)- Just exceptional ones that have me longing to get to!


To name a few..and this is not counting all those deleiciously tempting, famous memoirs staring at me at this very moment…

I’d love to know what’s on your AMR List?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Announcing Giveaway WINNER...

The WINNER of Cleopatra's Daughter is....

Wanda of Winnipeg Manitoba!!!


Send me an email with your contact info please:)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaser Tuesday-Upcoming Historical Fiction and More...

Today, I have the perfect Teaser Tuesday for you…

I just read three chapters of what seems will turn out to be a fascinating new historical fiction novel!

Do you know Melanie, better known as Erzibet from: Madame Guillotine (Kill Them All, God Will Know His Own) 

For history buffs or anyone interested in fantastic detailed information on French history (my personal favourite), and historical figures, Melanie’s blog is the place. In this terrific blog, Melanie exhibits her true talent as a writer. Her knowledge in history is backed by an astounding repertoire of history sources and bibliographies that are certain to baffle. Besides the history, I also enjoy reading some of her ‘life’ posts that she interjects every once in a while to give us a brief look into her everyday life (which by the way, is pretty colourful in itself). A mother, wife, friend, historian and writer, Melanie is so interesting to read about!

-And for some of you Marie Antoinette lovers (make some room for me amongst you all), Melaine has another blog entitled: The Journal of Marie Antoinette where she writes her own fictional version of what Marie Antoinette’s journal might have been like. Go check it out-You’ll love it!

So now that I’ve updated anyone who hadn’t already heard of this wonderful upcoming author-back to what I initially intended to write about when I started my post:

Teasers of Melanie’s first three chapters of her novel set in 18th c France- during the revolution…

Each of the chapters is written in the first person by a different lady, at a different time.

Chapter 1 is on Sidonie- Paris, October 1773.
(Here are several excerpts put together to form the teasers):

‘They came for me while I was still asleep... ‘You are to come with us, Madame,’ said a tall pockmarked man that I had never seen before who stood a little apart from the others, his dirty, straggling hair hanging down the back of a threadbare purple velvet coat that had clearly seen better days...
We made our way down the wide, marble staircase, its steps worn away in the middle by years of use that led down to the candlelit entrance hall and for a brief moment I paused in front of the portrait that Greuze had painted of me in happier days, when I was just sixteen, had recently given birth to Lucien and was still flushed and ecstatic with the joy of new motherhood. ‘Take your last look,’ my husband’s sardonic voice called up from the hall below, ‘like you, it will be gone by morning.’...
I heard my baby wail in her crib at the top of the house and the sharp clip clop of her nurse’s shoes against the floorboards as she went to tend to her. ‘Adélaïde...’ I began, before tears overwhelmed me and I had to stop, not trusting myself to speak without sobbing.
‘She will be treated in the same way as her sisters,’ he replied coldly. ‘No one who bears my name will ever suffer unjustly.’ I reached out and grasped his wrist, clinging on as he twisted his arm and tried to shake me off.’

Chapter 2: Adélaïde, Paris, February 1789.

‘I woke with a start, clawing at the damp bed sheets and twisting my head from side to side, just as I always did when I had The Dream.
‘Adélaïde?’ Hortense hissed from the next bed. I turned my head to look at her, unable to see much more than her pale, round face, prim white cotton night dress and long blonde plaits in the gloom. ‘Did you have the dream again? The one about your mother?’ Her soft, still faintly provincial voice was concerned. We had slept in neighbouring beds for seven years, ever since she had first arrived at our school and she had been woken by The Dream at least twice a week during that time...
‘Maybe she will come back one day,’ Hortense whispered now, just as she always did.
I nodded. ‘Maybe.’ Neither of us really believed it. She had been away for so long and I didn’t even know if she was alive or dead. No one had ever told me and I was too afraid to ask. All I knew was that she had gone and that she had not taken me with her...
I had lived in this room for seven years ever since I had first arrived at Penthemont at the age of nine along with my older sisters, the twins Lucrèce and Cassandre. Up until that time we had lived on our father’s country estate under the care of one of his unmarried sisters, Mademoiselle Aglaé until she had died and it had been decided that we should be sent to school.’

Chapter 3: Lucrèce, Paris, July 1789.

‘Soft summer rain began to fall against the windows, pattering delicately against the glass. I stared at it, remembering how it had rained on my wedding day as well, three long years ago... We had met only once before, six months earlier when he had come with my father to Penthémont and I could barely remember him, recalling only his great height and the way he had not smiled as his blue grey eyes looked down into my blushing, anxious to please face, scrutinising me for defects. ‘She is very small for fifteen,’ he had remarked carelessly to my father, in the manner of one who feels that they have been presented with a poor bargain. ‘I do not like how thin she is and you did not tell me that she has red hair.’...’

Enough of a teaser? All I can say is that I had a difficult time figuring out which teasers to post, since every single line is captivating and urging to read on. Melaine tells me she is presently writing her next chapter on Cassandre, Lucrece’s twin. I can’t wait to read more and find out what happened to Sidonie- where did she end up? Where is she now? Will her children ever hear from her again? And what of Adelaide, the youngest sister with the talent for art? Lucrece is now a Duchess, a sad one- despite the looks of a blissful marriage...her innocence and dreams shattered by the lusty encounter she wished she had never witnessed...
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of this descriptive and intriguing18th c novel.

I'll keep you posted;)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Cleopatra's Daughter + GIVEAWAY

Michelle Moran’s books have helped revive my fascination for all that is ancient.  The characters encountered in her books, such as in Nefertiti, the Heretic Queen and now, Cleopatra’s Daughter, are ones that many of us have read about before.  Never though, have they been portrayed as incredibly interesting, intricate, deep and real as seen in Moran’s books.

Cleopatra’s Daughter grabbed my interest immediately.  The thought of reading about Cleopatra’s children; their thoughts and emotions within the first pages and throughout, was exhilarating to say the least.  I can’t think of a book that has yet to have transported me into ancient times with such vivid imagery as this one.  The ancient world is not one that can be depicted with ease.  Yet, Moran magnificently brings out the splendor, the glitter, the gold, the exquisite and the opulent-living in contrast with the coarse  and crude, all at their origin. 
I was amazed by the clash of class and refinement between the Greeks (and Egyptians, both in Alexandria) and the Romans of the times.  The differences in not only customs, fashion, architecture, but especially in languages and education, left me in awe. Cleopatra stands out as the regal queen of knowledge meshed with beauty, glamour and class.  She  also strongly believed in equality between genders- allowing her daughter the same privileges as her sons.  Culture and Education were most important to her and she made sure that Marc Anthony also was taught Greek and more; there where his Roman upbringing lacked.
But this was not only a story of awesome history and facts- Cleopatra’s Daughter mostly focuses on Selene and Alexander’s life after the death of their beloved parents.  Forcibly brought back to Rome, these last surviving heirs of Alexander The Great, were expected to live as Romans within the palace of Augustus (Octavian), the man responsible for the dreadful fate of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.
I loved learning about life in ancient Rome and how these teens (throughout the story they seemed so much older than their actual age) dealt with every obstacle and challenge they faced.  So much is dealt with in this book.  These royal twins faced with an unbelievable turn of fate were extremely close.  I enjoyed that they could speak in a different language when secrecy was necessary; another of the benefits brought about by Cleopatra’s expectations of culture and education at its finest.
In this beautiful novel, we encounter many historical figures such as Octavia (Marc Anthony’s wife prior to Cleopatra- and also Augustus’s sister),  a Numidian Prince, Augustus’ daughter, Julia, Marcellus, Octavia’s son, a beautiful Gaelic slave, Gallia, and the infamous architect Vitruvius, to name a few.  Each has a superb role in this novel that unravels to perfection, culminating in an ending that will leave you breathless- Let me just say that the last fifty or so pages kept me glued with anxiety and endless tearing.
A story that absolutely needs to be read! Excellent!
Side Note:  Moran provides a glossary of terms, list of names, a map of the time, as well as, an historical follow-up of the characters and their fate.
Cleopatra’s Daughter will appeal to readers of history, mystery, love, romance, intrigue, arts and culture, anthropology and so much more-without an ounce of drudgery- an incredibly easy-to read page turner.  There’s something for everyone in this fabulous book.

NOTE: Because this book touches upon the relevance of equality in women seen by how Selene was brought up by the Great Cleopatra - for the way she was educated in architecture (amongst other disciplines), a field only accessible to men at the time- and brought up as an equal with her twin brother...I deem this book perfectly qualified for the Women Unbound Challenge.

And now … who will be the LUCKY ONE to win this GIVEAWAY???
A Big Thanks to Michelle Moran and Crown-Random House, I have an extra copy here for one of my lucky followers! 
(US and Canada only)

1 Chance:  Leave a comment with your email.
5 Chances: Become a Follower of my Blog (If you’re already a follower, you get this automatically)
5 Chances: Place this on your Side bar or Blog about it.
2 EXTRA Chances every time you tweet and leave me the link
Winners announced on November 22nd.