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Showing posts from June, 2009

Juana of Castile: Mad for Love or Political Pawn?

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History has been written by men about men for centuries. So for writers of women’s history, one has to take the written record with a grain of salt, wonder if there are hidden agendas. This is especially true when it comes to the life of Juana of Castile. While most people are familiar with the story of her sister Catherine of Aragon and her marriage to Henry VIII, not many are familiar with the story of her older sister Juana. If she is known at all it is as Juana la Loca, Joanna the Mad, a woman who lost her mind after the death of her husband, the object of her obsessive love, prone to jealous rages who kept her husband’s moldy decrepit coffin nearby so that she could spent her nights talking to him. But is this true, or was Juana a political pawn, torn between her loyalty to her husband and her loyalty to Spain and her parents. Or does the truth lie somewhere in between? Juana was the third child and second daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. While the marriage of Ferdina

The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie

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On December 3, 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared from her home in Sunningdale, in Berkshire. Her car was found at eight o’clock on Saturday morning, abandoned several miles away, with some of her clothes and identification scattered around inside. There were no signs of foul play but newspapers immediately reported that the car was believed to have been deliberately run down Newlands corner with its brakes off. All that weekend, the police searched for her on the North Downs. Agatha had written several confusing letters to her husband, her secretary Charlotte Fisher and others before vanishing. One, to her brother-in-law, said she was simply going for a vacation in Yorkshire; another, to the local chief constable, said she feared for her life. A quarter mile from where her car was found there was a lake called Silent Pool that she had used in one of her books; one of her characters had drowned there. The policy promptly had the lake dredged, without result. Hearing of the husband's

Aristocrats: Ladies Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox

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Ah, the BBC, nobody does it quite the way you do. For every piece of crap like the recent Merlin and the god-awful Robin Hood , they give us a sumptuous costume drama like Aristocrats . Aristocrats is a 1999 mini-series, based on the biography by Stella Tillyard about the fabulous Lennox sisters. The Lennox sisters aren't just any aristocrats, no they are the creme de la creme of aristocrats, the great-grand daughters of Charles II and his mistress Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth. Their story, spanning almost the whole of the 18th century, is one of one of the noblest families in England and the changes that they see in their life-time. The sisters grow up in a world of immense privilege. From childhood, they are surrounded by servants, and family members. Both their parents were courtiers to George II, consequently the children grew up around the Royal Family, waiting for the time with they too will make their debut and take their place amongst the elite of the count

Scandalous Book Review: Cherie Blair's Speaking for Myself

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Last November I had the chance to hear Cherie Blair (wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair) interviewed at the Times Center here in New York. I was fascinated with her story and bought the book, but life and other Scandalous Women intervened and I didn't get the chance to really finish the book until now. With all the media attention on Michelle Obama and her role as First Lady it was nice to read about what it was like for someone on the other side of the pond. Cherie Blair never even had the honeymoon period that Michelle Obama had. From the beginning, every little decision from how she dressed to the fact that she was the first wife of the Prime Minister to continue working after the election was scrutinized. More unflattering photos were taking of Cherie Blair than I think of any wife of any world leader. Even Hillary Clinton had better press than Cherie Blair. Cherie Booth was born in Lancashire in 1954, but raised in Liverpool. Her parents were young actors who

Coming soon to Scandalous Women: Author Susan Holloway Scott

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On July 2 (take note of the new date), I will be posting an interview with Susan Holloway Scott, author of The French Mistress , a new historical fiction novel about Charles II's mistress Louise de Keroualle, the Duchess of Portsmouth (ancestress of the current Duke of Richmond and Lennox). Susan is also the author of Royal Harlot (about Barbara Castlemaine) and The King's Favorite (about Nell Gwynn). Please plan on stopping by, because we will be giving away a copy of Susan's book. Here is a brief description to whet your appetite: The daughter of a poor nobleman, Louise leaves the French countryside for the court of King Louis XIV, where she must not only please the tastes of the jaded king, but serve as a spy for France. With few friends, many rivals, and ever-shifting loyalties, Louise learns the perils of her new role. Yet she is too ambitious to be a pawn in the intrigues of others. With the promise of riches, power, and even the love of a king, Louise creates h

Art Lover: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim

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Peggy Guggenheim was an American art collector who was as well known for her private life as for her art collection. She was born on August 26, 1898 in New York, the middle daughter of three and christened Marguerite. Her father Benjamin Guggenheim was one of 11 children of the wealthy Guggenheim family, but he had left the firm along with his younger brother William. Consequently, he didn't share in any of the profits of the company after 1906. Although he still had an income of over $250,000 a year, he also had an extravagant lifestyle with homes in New York and Paris, where he had several mistresses. Peggy's mother Florette Seligman's family had looked down on the Guggenheim's. Although the Guggenheim's were wealthier, the Selgiman's had come to the United States ten years before the Guggenheim's and still considered them nouveau riche. Peggy's parents were unhappy together from the beginning. Her mother was an eccentric who sprayed Lysol on everyth

Scandalous Movie Reviiew: Elizabeth The Golden Age

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Cast Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I of England Clive Owen as Walter Raleigh Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis Walsingham Abbie Cornish as Elizabeth Throckmorton Samantha Morton as Mary, Queen of Scots Susan Lynch as Annette - Lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots Jordi MollĂ  as Philip II of Spain Rhys Ifans as Robert Reston Eddie Redmayne as Anthony Babington Tom Hollander as Sir Amyas Paulet David Threlfall as Dr. John Dee Adam Godley as William Walsingham Laurence Fox as Christopher Hatton William Houston as Don Gerau De Spes Christian Brassington as Archduke Charles of Austria Directed by Shekhar Kapur Written by William Nicolson and Michael Hirst Produced by Working Title/Universal, 2007 'When Queen Elizabeth's reign is threatened by ruthless familial betrayal and Spain's invading army, she and her shrewd advisor must act to safeguard the lives of her people. But when a dashing seafarer, Walter Raleigh captures her heart, she is forced to make her most tragic sacrific