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.
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!