Showing posts from January, 2014

My Night with Madame Jumel

The Morris-Jumel mansion at night taken by Leanna Renee Hieber   Last November, I decided to do something different for my birthday. Instead of going out for dinner or having drinks at one of my favorite bars, I decided to invite a few friends to join me for a paranormal sleepover at the Morris-Jumel mansion here in Manhattan. The mansion, which is located less than twenty blocks from my house, is one of the oldest structures in Manhattan. It is a jewel of a museum, a pre-revolutionary mansion once owned by Roger Morris, a loyalist who left New York to return to England. The house was then used as George Washington's headquarters for a few months before the British took the city. Later the mansion was bought by a wine merchant by the name of Stephen Jumel, who lived in the mansion with his much younger wife Eliza. You can read guest blogger Audrey Braver's post on Eliza Jumel Burr here . Eliza Jumel was a piece of work to say the least. Not many people know her name n

Josephine: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon - A Review

Title:   Josephine: Desire, Ambition, Napoleon Author: Kate Williams Hardcover: 368 pages Publisher: Hutchinson (7 Nov 2013) I've been waiting to read this biography ever since it was announced that Kate Williams' next book was going to be a biography of Josephine Bonaparte.  I devoured her  biography of Emma Hamilton, and her dual biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales and Queen Victoria. I think she is one of the best biographers around and not just because she has lovely curly red hair. Even though I saw the book in Waterstones when I was in London in December, I waited until I got back to order it. My suitcase was heavy enough as it was. So I ordered it from Amazon. It was the perfect companion to Heather Webb's novel BECOMING JOSEPHINE. By the time I was finished, I felt that I had a true portrait of the former Empress of the French.  Although Josephine grew up on a plantation, her family were not wealthy. At one point, the family were actually living in

Reign Recap: "Left Behind" and "Fated" - SPOILERT ALERT

I'm so sorry for getting behind with my REIGN recaps.  I went to England for a week, and I forgot to set my DVR to tape "Left Behind" and then I was so jet-lagged when I got back that I totally forgot that there was a new episode before the holidays.  In the meantime REIGN inexplicably won 'Best New Show' at the People's Choice Awards, which means that this show will probably be getting a second season.  Truthfully, it was really hard to watch these two episodes. I get so frustrated with this show! It has moments where it's decent, but for the most part these episodes are execrable for different reasons. The biggest problem that I have with this show is the lack of atmosphere. The French court should be teeming with people, the royals should have no privacy whatsoever. Instead, Mary and ladies wander around the halls of the palace in their nightgowns at all hours of the day and night.  Where are Catherine's ladies-in-waiting, her flying squadron o

Queen Victoria's Children (Documentary)...

I watched the first two parts of this documentary, and I found it fascinating. Although none of the information is new, it was interesting to hear from Lucinda Hawksley, the author of a new biography of Princess Louise, as well as one of my favorite historians, Helen Rappaport. The other two parts are also available on YouTube.

January Book of the Month: Becoming Josephine

Title:   Becoming Josephine Author:   Heather Webb Publisher:   Penguin/Plume Pub Date:   December 31, 2013 From the back cover:   Rose sails from Martinique to Paris to trade her plantation ways and Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. But her haughty Parisian husband dashes her hopes when he abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll. After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the unwelcome love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century—Napoleon Bonaparte. BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stability, and ult