Last week, we explored a gallery of the historical characters who show up in The Garden Intrigue. There are also a whole bunch of real people who are mentioned but never actually put in an appearance. Just so you know who the characters are talking about….
American Envoy to France from 1794 to 1796, Monroe brings his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, and his daughter Eliza to France with him, enrolling her in Mme Campan’s school– as well as his wife’s (fictional) niece, Emma Morris. Poor man. He never imagined that his niece would create an international scandal by running off from Mme Campan’s and eloping with a Frenchman.
A former lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette, her school in St. Germain-en-Laye becomes the It place for the daughters of the new regime. Her pupils included Hortense de Beauharnais, Caroline Bonaparte, Eliza Monroe, and Aglaé Louise Auguié (future wife of Marshall Ney).
Napoleon’s younger brother was about as thrilled to be married off to Josephine’s daughter Hortense as Hortense was to be married to him. The match is pushed by Napoleon and Josephine, with the deal that Hortense’s and Louis’ kids will be Napoleon’s heirs. Depressive and moody, Louis suspects his sunny-natured wife of all sorts of iniquities. It doesn’t help that right before the marriage, his brother Lucien imparted the malicious rumor that Hortense was having an affair with her own stepfather. In short, Louis is miserable and does his best to make Hortense miserable, too. In 1804, they have one child and another on the way.
Napoleon Charles Bonaparte
Pictured here with his mother in 1806, Hortense’s oldest son is only one and a half in the summer of 1804, when Garden Intrigue takes place. Possibly heir to Bonaparte, the poor, wee thing is a sickly child, causing Hortense a great deal of worry. (Our characters don’t know this at the time, but he dies in 1807, at the age of four.) It doesn’t help that Caroline Murat’s son, Achille, is a healthy little rabble-rouser. (For Hortense’s long-standing feud with Napoleon’s younger sister, Caroline, see last week’s Teaser Tuesday.)
Not to be confused with the guy who was stabbed in his bath (i.e. Marat), Murat was a dashing army officer who caught the eye of Napoleon’s teenage sister, Caroline, who insisted they be allowed to marry, despite her older brother’s reservations. Murat has a taste for flamboyant clothing and an eye for the ladies. (Although “lady” might not be quite the right word.) We’ve see him in the Pink books before. He’s been around griping about Caroline in Pink I and dallying with an actress during his stint as Governor of Paris in The Orchid Affair. In summer of 1804, he’s just been made a Marshall of France. He also happens to be buddy buddy with our good friend, Georges Marston.
Hortense’s older brother is pretty much the opposite of Murat in every way. Josephine’s son by her first marriage is well-liked in Bonaparte’s court, good-natured and hard-working. Along with Bonaparte’s relatives, he’s raised to the style of Imperial Highness in the summer of 1804. More importantly, he’s been a sort of surrogate brother to Emma during her years in France.
I see the point of the hype. Underneath the post-apocalyptic framework, the book is essentially a classic, fairy-tale quest, and very compelling. Something about it reminded me of one of my old favorites, Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword— so I read that next.
I’m not quite sure how I got from Francie Nolan to Florence King’s memoir of growing up eccentric in 1930’s Virginia. A brilliant prose stylist with a quirky sense of humor, King doesn’t take much seriously– with the exception of grammar.
I don’t have a Pink-in-Russia book on the agenda just yet, but I’m seriously tempted after watching this video, sent to me by Anya. Aren’t the costumes fun?
In one of those strange coincidences, a couple of years ago I picked up a research book, The Cavalry Maiden, about a Russian noblewoman who successfully disguised herself as a man, became a cavalry officer, and served with distinction for several years.
In reading through the page proofs of The Garden Intrigue, I’ve noticed that the thing is riddled with real historical people, running around as though they’re fictional. So, since it’s rather nice to be able to put faces to names, here are some of the (real) folks you’ll meet in The Garden Intrigue:
Emma’s cousin is just at the end of his tenure as Envoy to France and ready to return to his Hudson home, Arryl. While in France, Livingston has teamed up with an inventor named Robert Fulton to experiment with the idea of a ship run by steam.
Emma has known the American-born inventor ever since he created a stir in Paris in 1800 with the first ever panorama– they even named a street after him: the Rue des Panoramas. Fulton has been of invaluable assistance to Emma, helping to come up with ingenious engineering solutions to the drainage issues on Emma’s (deceased) husband’s estate. Not to mention that he’s pretty useful when it comes to making special effects for a masque.
Emma’s best friend since their days at Mme Campan’s school for young ladies, Hortense is the daughter of Josephine Bonaparte by her first marriage. Hortense is locked into a loveless marriage with Napoleon’s younger brother Louis. (For more about Hortense, see my prior post, here.)
Napoleon’s youngest sister has cordially detested Hortense ever since their school days at Mme C’s– and she detests Emma by extension. She’s a prime mover in the attempt to get Bonaparte to discard his wife and take a younger model. The Bonapartes and the Beauharnais do not get along.
Her real name may have been Rose, but when Bonaparte started calling her Josephine, why object? Easy going and good-natured, Bonaparte’s Creole wife has a potent charm and a taste for expensive things. She’s also several years older than her husband (although they both lied about their ages on their marriage certificate) and under attack for her inability to provide an heir.
You saw this one coming, right? In the summer of 1804, Napoleon has just had himself voted Emperor of the French– but he’s miffed because none of his admirals like his plans for the invasion of England.
There are also a bunch of admirals floating around, but since this post is getting long, I’ll save the next batch of historical characters for another round.
Welcome to the first of our series of Mistletoe Mondays! Every Monday, one participant, chosen at random, will receive a Mischief of the Mistletoe calendar magnet.
To kick off Mistletoe Mondays, here’s our first question. Last week, I hosted the first ever Pink website live chat, with Dr. Andrea Bonior, who very graciously consented to be my live chat guinea pig.
Would you like more live chats here on the website?
If so, who would you most like to see come visit?
(The magnet winner will be announced on Wednesday!)
Many thanks to Coffee Time Romance for giving The Orchid Affair a full four cups! (You know how I feel about caffeine.) Virginia writes, “A historical plot line blended with a modern one, The Orchid Affair is riddled with edge of your seat suspense and fade-to-black variety passion. The details in this story really bring it to life for the reader, effortlessly transporting them from French Revolutionary Paris to the modern grace of today’s city in the flip of the page.”
Coming to Book Expo America? I’ll be signing at the MWA booth on Wednesday from 1:15-1:45 with Deanna Raybourn and M.J. Rose. And I’ll have Mistletoe magnet calendars to give away!
For those not at BEA, the first of our Mistletoe Mondays starts here, on the News page, tomorrow….
With the apocalypse a-coming, I’ve been taking the time to re-read some old favorites. (Okay, so maybe it had more to do with it being rainy and grim outside.) You may have seen some of these mentioned on this page before:
It’s a toss-up for me whether this or Secrets of a Summer Night is my favorite Kleypas. Kleypas is brilliant at evoking emotion, and Sebastian, the hero of Devil in Winter, bears a certain resemblance to Lord Vaughn in his quick wit and self-serving attitude.
Everyone has a series blind spot, a book in a series that you just keep missing. I’ve read Gaudy Night at least a dozen times, but, somehow, I’d never read Unnatural Death before. There’s death, and, yes, it is unnatural.
What have you been reading?
p.s. has anyone read Game of Thrones? Thumbs up or thumbs down?