The Berkeley Square Affair, by Teresa Grant
Today it is my pleasure to welcome as a guest blogger my friend and fellow author Teresa Grant, whose new novel, The Berkeley Square Affair, was released yesterday. Congratulations, Teresa, and welcome to Versailles and More!
After five years, three books, and two novellas of adventures on the Continent (in Lisbon, Vienna, Brussels during Waterloo, and post-Waterloo Paris) my new release brings Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch to England. But the Continent and France in particular still hang over their lives and the plot of the book, The world of the British beau monde, to which the husband and wife spy team have removed after their adventures on the Continent, has long standing links across the channel. Aristocrats of Malcolm’s parents’ generation, such as the real life Duke and Duchess of Devonshire (below) and the duchess’s sister Lady Bessborough and her husband spent a great deal of time in Paris before the French Revolution and in the early days of he Revolution the duchess went to France to give birth in secret to her child by Charles Grey.
Young aristocrats fresh from Oxford and Cambridge made the Grand Tour and brought back works of art to fill their houses. The British flocked to Paris again during the brief Peace of Amiens in 1802. When hostilities with Napoleon’s government broke out again, such as novelist Fanny Burney had to stay until after Waterloo. After Waterloo, fashionable London once again crossed the Chanel, including the Devonshires’ sonny then the duke himself, and their daughter Harriet and her husband Lord Granville.
But in the aftermath of the French Revolution, when the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars largely closed the Continent to British travelers, it was French aristocrats fleeing the Revolution who flocked to Britain. The Comte d’Artois, later Charles X escaped to Britain in the aftermath of the Revolution and lived in Edinburgh and London, with a generous allowance from George III. In 1807 his elder brother Louis XVIII fled the Continent and took up residence in Norfolk in Gosfield Hall, leased from the Marquess of Buckinghamshire.
Families like my fictional Lacloses and the real life Duc and Duchesse de Gramont settled into life in Britain. At first an air of romance surrounded them, but the émigrés were largely penniless and as time wore on their welcome began to pall. Those with powerful friends fared better. The Gramonts were friends of the Devonshires. Their daughter, Corisande de Gramont, grew up close to the Devonshire House children and married Lord Ossulton. But even émigrés with friends were in the not always comfortable position of depending on their friends’ charity. Those without powerful friends often subsisted in genteel poverty.
In the wake of Waterloo, many émigrés returned to France, seeking to have their estates restored. But others sought refuge in England. Charles de Flahaut, who had been Napoleon’s aide-de-camp, narrowly escaped arrest or formal exile with the help of his father Prince Talleyrand (Flahaut was Talleyrand’s illegitimate son though nominally the son of his mother’s husband).
Flahaut, who was also the former longtime lover of Hortense Bonaparte, the Empress Josephine’s daughter, sought refuge in England and married the Scottish heiress Margaret Mercer Elphinstone. Not that Flahaut precisely found an unconditionally warm welcome in England either. His wife’s father didn’t talk to them for many years.
My fictional character actress Manon Caret, also seeks refuge in England. A former Bonapartist agent, Manon, escaped France in the previous book in the series The Paris Affair one step ahead of Fouché‘s agents.
So the London of late November 1817 in which Malcolm and Suzanne are living when The Berkeley Square Affair begins is a city that, despite years of war, has close political and personal ties to France and its glittering capital, Paris.