Archive for the ‘Books & Films’ Category

Versailles: The Dream of a King (France 2 version)

This film ran on the BBC a few days ago, and is available for streaming on the France 2 site (from France only, 1.99 euros.) You can also watch it from anywhere, and for free, at Dailymotion. The DVD is sold at under the original title Versailles, le reve d’un roi (careful with the […]

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Pauline Bonaparte Flora Fraser

A biography of Pauline Bonaparte, by Flora Fraser

Flora Fraser is the daughter of Lady Antonia Fraser, author of the best-selling biography of Marie-Antoinette and the stepdaughter of the late Harold Pinter. So writing runs in that family. I came across this New York Times review of the book. Actually it is more a summary than a true review since the author of […]

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Maria Sibylla Merian and daughters

Maria Sibylla Merian and Daughters: Women of Art and Science

I would be tempted to add: and business. Do you remember my post on the beautiful exhibition at the Getty last summer? Maria Sibylla was not only a gifted artist and a pioneer of entomology, she also established a thriving business out of her passion for painting, flowers and insects. Well, Ellen at Eighteenth Century […]

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Queen s Necklace Mossiker

The Queen’s Necklace, by Frances Mossiker

Before reading this book, I thought I had a fairly good knowledge of the infamous Affair of the Necklace. Here goes the story: the Cardinal Louis de Rohan, Grand Almoner of France, Prince of the House of Rohan, was one of the most prominent courtiers in Versailles. As Grand Almoner, he was in charge of […]

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Bayard Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong

Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong, by Pierre Bayard

First I must thank Arnie Perlstein, fellow member of Eighteenth Century Worlds, for bringing to my attention this essay, subtitled Reopening the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles, by Pierre Bayard (no relation to Louis Bayard.) I became all the more interested that the plot of The Hound of the Baskervilles is eerily similar […]

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George Sand Charpentier

George Sand’s Christmas memories

George Sand is one of those novelists who enjoyed extraordinary fame and success during their lifetimes, only to become unfashionable posthumously. Let’s hope that this injustice will be repaired soon. It is about time to rediscover this great lady of French literature. In her Histoire de ma vie (“Story of My Life”) George Sand, whose legal name was […]

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Doomed Queens Kris Waldherr

An interview of Kris Waldherr, author of Doomed Queens

Doomed Queens: Royal Women Who Met Bad Ends, From Cleopatra to Princess Di, is Kris Waldherr’s new book. Lavishly illustrated by the author herself, it contains brief biographies (two or three pages per Queen) from all eras and continents. While the format precludes any in-depth study of any of the characters reviewed, I found the compilation […]

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Versailles Petit Trianon Belvedere

Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles

I recommend Marie-Antoinette and the Last Garden at Versailles by Christain Duvernois, with photographs by François Halard. I own, thanks to a gift certificate that was burning a hole in my pocket, a copy of the French version, more soberly titled Trianon: le domaine privé de Marie-Antoinette (“Trianon, the private domain of Marie-Antoinette.) I guess […]

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the duchess Keira Knightley

The Duchess

I had read many reviews of this film, some rather good, some rather bad, so I went to see this film with an open mind. That was two weeks ago, upon its release in France. Now I realize I shouldn’t tarry anymore in writing my review because this is not the kind of movie that […]

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Georgiana Duchess Devonshire Reynolds

A prayer for a child, by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

A poem written by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, about the child (by her lover Charles Grey) she was forced to give up. Yes, Georgiana was a writer too, though it is easy to overlook it if you limit yourself to the film The Duchess. Unhappy child of indiscretion, poor slumberer on a breast forlorn pledge […]

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