Gerald Everett Jones: “Mistress of the Revolution” a mistressful story of class struggle and sexual politics

I met fellow writer Gerald Everett Jones at Goodreads, just a few weeks before my book signing at Dutton’s Brentwood. He lives in Los Angeles, and had had events there himself, so he gave me helpful pointers. And he agreed to read my book.

Gerald writes nonfiction, most recently on the subject of digital movie production, in addition to stage plays, screenplays and boychik lit. I have to admit that I had never heard of boychik lit before meeting him. If you are similarly unenlightened and wish to learn more about that literary genre, I invite you to visit his blog. In any case, the fact that he is neither a historical fiction author, nor, to put it mildly, a female-centered writer, makes his perspective all the more valuable to me.

Mistresss-of-the-Revolution

Mistresss of the Revolution, by Catherine Delors

So here is what Gerald says: “Mistress of the Revolution is a masterful (mistressful?), serious literary work about the widely ignored–and unlearned–lessons of history. As the very best historical novels do, it reflects and highlights the political and social dramas of the present day.”

Wonderful! Indeed that is the highest ambition of any historical novelist: bring the past to life to make the reader reflect upon the present.

And what does Gerald think of my characters? He sees Gabrielle as a rape victim, Villers as a bully, and Coffinhal as an ambitious young man who becomes “a judge and a close ally of the charismatic leader Robespierre… working overtime sentencing scores of aristos to cruel and bloody deaths daily.” Certainly Coffinhal was no slouch when it came to his judicial functions.

I mentioned that Gerald is a screenwriter and knows the movie business. Well, he thinks that “there is not a single male star in Hollywood, now or ever, who would risk the ire of his fan base to behave on the screen as Coffinhal does at his worst toward this woman.”

If you follow the comment trail under the review, you will see that Gerald somewhat qualifies this statement. Yes, a male star may agree to play Coffinhal, but only after the character has been declawed, defanged, bleached and cleansed of any sin. I can’t wait to see the movie…

Gerald seems to have really enjoyed Mistress. “The thing that I find fascinating,” he writes, “is the author’s boldness at not offering up the expected romantic arc, giving us a chilling portrait of female sensibility as it calculates what it must do to survive.”

This review made me very happy. First, what author would not be delighted to hear her novel called mistressful? Also, as I read and reread the review, and shared it with my son, we had a great laugh out of it, because it is very funny, even when it says very serious things. That was most welcome after a stressful day spent meeting the deadline for an appellate brief.

But what I loved most was the fact that Gerald, beside raising some very interesting issues on what it meant for a woman to live and survive in 18th century France, was giving me a new take on my characters. I must have done something right if my readers, depending on their personality and standpoint, react to them so differently. That is what happens with real persons. To me it means that my characters have really come to life.

Thank you, Gerald!

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8 Comments to “Gerald Everett Jones: “Mistress of the Revolution” a mistressful story of class struggle and sexual politics”

  1. Treme says:

    Cheers, excellant post.

  2. CATHERINE DELORS says:

    I am all for it, Gerald!

  3. John Malkovitch is one of the world’s most accomplished actors but these days he is considered a character actor for the purposes of casting, not a leading man.

    “Girl with a Pearl Earring” did about $12 million at the box office and $26 million in DVD rentals. That’s not too bad for a film in which nothing explodes and no skin below the neck is exposed.

    Historical dramas in today’s market are more often “event movies” on cable, e.g., “John Adams” currently running on HBO. Actually since this plot is so episodic and involved, I think it would work best as a miniseries. BBC co-production, shot at Cinecita in Rome (recycled props and sets!) with locations in Hungary or Czeko. Piece of gateau, Citizens!

  4. CATHERINE DELORS says:

    Malkovitch a bit light (physically speaking) for the part but he obviously loves to play, let’s say, “difficult” characters. Dangerous Liaisons, The Wings of the Dove… I don’t think his fan base would mind either.

    I believe Gerald was referring to actors such as Brad Pitt, or Leo Di Caprio. See what happened to The Road to Perdition. I have never seen Tom Hanks or Paul Newman act better. Great direction, screenplay, art direction, everything, beautiful themes of guilt and redemption, and yet it failed commercially. Tom Hanks’s fans wanted to see him play Mr. Perfect for the 400th time.

    As for the garter scene in Mistress, I will give you the phone number of the producer, et you settle that with him/her when it comes to that.

    This is all daydreaming anyway: Stephanie, my agent, has warned me that movie rights to historicals are notoriously difficult to sell. Too expensive to turn into movies… But it doesn’t hurt to daydream, does it?

  5. Franklin Michaels says:

    Hey, in his day, I could have seen John Malkovitz playing the role no problem, even if he would have been better suited to play Villers. The scene where the garters are mailed back to the homestead is too delicious for words. It stays in the picture!

  6. It’s poor Rollo’s fate to fail repeatedly, upward. As they say in showbiz, that’s the “engine of comedy.”

  7. CATHERINE DELORS says:

    With a name like that, and under your pen, how could a character fail?

  8. Catherine, I am likewise gratified that my review, in your opinion, is “very funny, even when it says very serious things.”

    If I can achieve the same in my Rollo Hemphill novels, perhaps boychik lit will find an audience after all!

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