Book review & giveaway: Paris Ever After, by K.S.R. Burns

Paris Ever AfterK.S.R. Burns

on Tour May 1-14 with

Paris Ever After

(women’s fiction)
Release date: May 1st, 2018
at Velvet Morning Press
ASIN: B079H32ND3
260 pages
Author’s website
Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Can Amy’s rocky start in Paris turn into a happy ever after?

Amy didn’t realize how stale her life was until she jetted off to Paris without telling a soul—not even her husband—and had the adventure of a lifetime. Now as she tries to establish herself in the City of Light, she finds that despite a fun (and quirky) group of friends and the ability to indulge in French pastries whenever she wants, reinventing her life is much harder than she imagined.

Then on Amy’s thirtieth birthday, two unexpected visitors leave her wondering if she will soon be saying au revoir to Paris and the new life she’s struggled to build. Her estranged husband, Will, shows up—but is he interested in reconciliation or separation? And a young woman who arrives on Amy’s doorstep unleashes chaos that could push Amy out into the street.

As Amy’s Parisian dream starts to fall apart, she must decide: return to the stability of Will and Phoenix (if that’s even still an option) or forge her way forward in Paris? Amid secrets and surprises, set in enchanting gardens, cozy cafés, and glittering Parisian streets, Amy must choose between two very different worlds. And each has a claim on her heart.

***

MY REVIEW

I’ve read The Paris Effect (and reviewed it) and it didn’t take me long to dive right back in for its sequel (which I’d wished for, and so glad the author delivered!). Amy has established a life in Paris, though one that still seems a bit tenuous, as she is relying upon the goodwill of her friend Margaret for a place to live. She finds this to indeed be tenuous when Margaret has an unexpected guest, and that change leaves her more vulnerable than she expected.

It’s a struggle to write this review without giving away spoilers, so it’s going to be a bit short. Amy’s complications mount, and I couldn’t put this book down, wondering what would happen next, and how she’d get herself out of all the difficulties. I also was reading this on the plane on my way home from a trip to Paris, and I loved being able to relive some spots I’d visited. I may even have to re-read The Paris Effect, and then read this one again, just to have that fun once more.

I’m delighted to hear that The Paris Effect has been optioned for film rights. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be able to see the film/tv program soon!

NB: The author’s previous book, The Paris Effect, featured here on France Book Tours, was just optioned for Film & TV!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

k-s-r-burns

K. S. R. Burns
is the author of the Amazon bestseller, THE PARIS EFFECT, its upcoming standalone sequel PARIS EVER AFTER, and THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF WORKING GIRL: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. She has lived and worked in four countries and 22 cities, including Paris. No longer a wanderer, Burns now resides in the Pacific Northwest, where in addition to novels she writes a weekly career advice column for The Seattle Times.

Visit her website.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Buy the book: Amazon | Kobo | iTunes | Nook

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Book review: The Last Days of Oscar Wilde, by John Vanderslice

About The Last Days of Oscar Wilde

• Paperback: 350 pages
• Publisher: Burlesque Press, LLC (January 15, 2018)

How is it possible that the genius author of such 19th century classics as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest died destitute in Paris at the age of 46? In John Vanderslice’s vivid and heartbreaking novel, we meet Oscar Wilde after a two year incarceration in an English prison for gross indecency. Once free, his reputation and finances in ruins, he leaves England for Paris where, frequently inebriated, he stays in shabby hotel rooms paid for by his few, remaining friends.

In Vanderslice’s deftly-imagined portrayal, Wilde’s idiosyncratic and affecting greatness is revealed. Through his thoughts and interactions, we experience the heart and mind of a literary giant brought down by the “morals” of his time. For a while, Wilde manages to maintain his legendary sense of humor and joie de vivre, a superstitious religiosity, and the dogged pursuit of beautiful young men. Sadly, the formerly prolific author and raconteur no longer has the desire to write. Instead, he distantly observes the world and is ultimately felled by serious illness. It is at his funeral that his artistic reputation begins its slow rehabilitation as friends and a small devoted public flock to the church to honor the artist, who spoke openly about homosexuality, the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the importance of art for art’s sake.

My Review

Almost immediately, you’re drawn into Oscar Wilde’s life. It only takes a page or two, and his personality is so vivid that I began to feel as if I might know him. I don’t know much about Wilde historically, so I can’t speak as to the accuracy (or not) of this fictional story to the real history, but to me it was very good at painting a vibrant picture of not only his life, but of Paris at the time.

I really felt for Wilde, and I knew that his decline was coming as I read, but the last part portrayed it well, in fits and starts as I’d imagine his last days would seem, sober and then not, in pain and then not. The book gives me a greater appreciation of Wilde, and I will have to seek out more of his work (I’ve only read Dorian Grey).

I’m also impressed with the writing of the author, John Vanderslice. I may also be looking up some of his other works, too!

I was provided this book by the author for an honest review.

Praise

“With elegant prose and a glittering wit of which Wilde himself would approve, John Vanderslice brings to life this agent provocateur’s final act. Masterfully merges insight and imagination with the historical and literary record to provide a portrait that is rich and nuanced and utterly compelling.” – Rachel Hall, author of Heirlooms.

“John Vanderslice lays bare the consequences of Wilde’s betrayal by those whom he loved and trusted. The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is a grim reminder of the destructive power of senseless persecution.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky.

“A quiet, tender portrait of a literary giant.” Kirkus Reviews

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice is the author of Island Fog (Lavender Ink), a collection of ten stories and two novellas set on Nantucket Island, named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction titles of 2014. A native of the Washington DC area, John has an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL). After graduating from ULL in 1997, he began teaching at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), where he is a much loved professor of writing. His fiction has been published in many leading journals, as well as several anthologies, including Chick for a Day and The Best of The First Line.

Book review, excerpt & giveaway: One Sip at a Time, by Keith Van Sickle

One Sip at a TimeKeith Van Sickle

on Tour November 6-17 with

One Sip at a Time:
Learning to Live in Provence

(travel memoir)
Release date: January 28, 2017
at Dresher Publishing
ISBN: 978-0998312002
192 pages
Author’s page | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence?

Keith and Val had a dream – to live in Provence, the land of brilliant sunlight, charming hilltop villages and the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean. But there were two problems: they weren’t French speakers and they had full-time jobs. So they came up with a plan…

Follow their adventures (and misadventures) as they quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine.

If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

EXCERPT

Fear the Beard
My beard trimmer broke so I went to buy a new one at the Intermarché.  I found it on the same aisle that had hair dryers and curling irons and things like that.  Except that the beard trimmers were kept in a locked cabinet.  Quoi?

I tracked down a clerk and asked her to unlock the cabinet so I could get the one I wanted, one that only cost about twenty bucks.  She took it out but wouldn’t give it to me. No, no, that would not be secure, monsieur!  Beard trimmers must follow a special security procedure! I think it must be like the one for a nuclear weapons factory.

First, I was told to go to the “Special Bureau” at the front of the store.  I did that, expecting the lady there to give me the beard trimmer so I could go pay.  Oh no, monsieur!  That would not be secure!  Instead, she gave me a long code to hand to the clerk in the checkout line. This mystified the poor clerk, who must only deal with women, children and clean-shaven men.

But eventually we sorted it out. I paid him and got another piece of paper, this one with a new code, to take back to the Special Bureau.

At this point, I was nervously expecting a retinal scan or maybe a cavity search, but happily I got my beard trimmer.

I asked the lady at the Special Bureau why beard trimmers were kept locked up while the much more expensive hair dryers were not.  She looked around carefully, leaned forward and said in a low voice, “Because of the thieves!”

Yes, it seems that beard trimmers were the most-stolen items in Intermarché stores
nationwide, thus prompting the lockdown.  I thanked her for this important news and held the trimmer tightly, scanning the parking lot as I walked carefully to my car.

Later I thought, is this really the best way to deal with the nationwide epidemic of beard
trimmer robberies? Is French society well served by having its thieves unable to trim their
beards, eventually looking like refugees from a ZZ Top concert? Maybe I should lead the other men in town for a protest march, a very French thing to do.
After trimming my beard, of course.

MY REVIEW

The title really says it all. One sip at a time. Lots of short pieces on living in Provence, and it’s easy to read a few in one sitting, or many (how about half the book? Let’s just say dinner was late that night!) As a not very skilled speaker of French, I could feel awkward along with them, and wince or nod or smile, and then laugh. The stories really make me want to go to Provence!

One anecdote that especially made me chuckle (and wince!) was France’s Worst Off-Ramp. Who knew that the French too had horribly designed roads? No traffic circles, cloverleafs…. just survival of the fittest. I wanted to clench my steering wheel with white-knuckled hands, if I’d had a steering wheel.

This book was a welcome indulgence, a way to live vicariously through the fun and travails of others. Now, though, I think I need to go book a trip to France.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One Sip at a Time Keith Van Sickle

Keith Van Sickle
is a technology industry veteran
and lifelong traveler
who got his first taste of overseas life
while studying in England during college.
But it was the expat assignment to Switzerland
that made him really fall in love with Europe.
After returning to California, he and his wife Val dreamed of living abroad again
but were unable to find another expat gig.
So they decided to invent their own.
Now they split their time between Silicon Valley and St-Rémy-de-Provence,
delving ever deeper into what makes France so endlessly fascinating.

Find the author on Facebook and Twitter
Visit his website

Subscribe to his mailing list and get information about new releases.

Buy the book on Amazon.com

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Book review & giveaway: Drawing Lessons, by Patricia Sands

Drawing LessonsPatricia Sands

on Tour October 2-13 with

Drawing Lessons

(women’s fiction)
Release date: October 1, 2017
at Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 978-1542045872
352 pages
Author’s page | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…

Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.

Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.

MY REVIEW

I’ve read Ms. Sands’ book Promise of Provence and quite enjoyed it, so I was excited to be able to read and review Drawing Lessons as well. Her descriptions of France and of her characters are so vivid that I find it quite easy to bring them all to life in my mind. Of course, it also makes me wish I could be there with them! In this case, in Arles, creating art.

I really felt for Arianna in this novel as Ms. Sands skilfully took me through her everyday life, and the difficulties and sadness that she was experiencing. I wanted to reach through the pages and hug her. Dementia of a loved one is a tough challenge to meet, especially when it progresses to the point that your loved one remembers little to nothing of their family and friends.

This book was on the quieter, introspective side, and it was just what I was looking for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I Promise You This Patricia SandsPatricia Sands
lives in Toronto,
but her heart’s other home is the South of France.
An avid traveler, she spends part of each year
on the Côte d’Azur
and occasionally leads groups of women
on tours of the Riviera and Provence.
Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club,
is a book-group favorite,
and The Promise of Provence, which launched her three-part Love in Provence series
(followed by Promises to Keep and I Promise You This),
was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award
and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award,
was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013,
and was a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance.
Sands also contributes to such Francophile websites as The Good Life France
and Perfectly Provence, and she appears as a public speaker for women’s groups.

Find Patricia on Facebook,
on Twitter
on Instagram
at her Amazon Author Page
or her website

Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases.

Buy the book on Amazon.com

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Book review & giveaway: That Spring In Paris, by Ciji Ware

That Spring in ParisCiji Ware

on Tour August 15-28 with

That Spring in Paris

(women’s fiction / romance)
Release date: May 25, 2017
at Lion’s Paw Publishing
ISBN: 978-0988940871
ebook: 978-0988940864
468 pages
Website
Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Two Americans literally collide at the entrance to a Paris hospital, each desperately searching for friends felled in the same unspeakable tragedy.

Patrick Finley Deschanel, an expatriate former U.S. Air Force pilot, quit the military after a career flying helicopter rescue missions in the Middle East. Now resident on a classic barge moored on the Seine, Finn is a man with both physical battle scars and psychic wounds that overshadow his day-to-day encounters at every turn.

Juliet Thayer is a fledgling landscape painter who seeks escape from a tyrannical older brother and her job at his violent video war games company in San Francisco. Her emergency trip to Paris also raises doubts as to her impending engagement to a colleague where she serves as packaging design director and “Chief Branding Officer” of GatherGames, a highly speculative enterprise in which her parents are heavily invested.

As Finn and Juliet form a tenuous attachment in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that traumatized the French capital November 13, 2015, they wonder if the “City of Light” can provide a path out of the darkness for two emotional exiles who fear–along with the world at large—that their universe has descended into a permanent state of chaos and that the renewal of spring might never come.

New York Times bestselling novelist and Emmy-award winning news producer Ciji Ware displays her formidable skill at weaving fact and fiction–delivering a gripping story about the discovery of love and regained serenity in the wake of horrifying events.

MY REVIEW

It didn’t take me long to become immersed in this book, set as it was during some very recent events. The terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, are still a very fresh memory, albeit one made by television and internet news sources (for me, at least). But the author didn’t sensationalize the attacks; her characters were affected by them, and the attacks formed the catalyst for the book, but the events were treated with sensitivity.

The characters were engaging, and I felt I could relate to both Finn and Juliet, though I am neither soldier nor game developer. I especially felt for Juliet, trying so hard to support her family, even though she was becoming increasingly unhappy in her role, and for having to deal with parents that treated her brother as the golden child. Finn’s struggle was portrayed well, and I felt both characters had depth.

There was romance, but it did not overtake the rest of the story; the author had a good balance between the external and internal plots, the personal struggles of both characters, and their growing support of each other. It was a book that was hard to put down, and it had a satisfying conclusion. I’ll be going to find more of this author’s work for sure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

That Spring in Paris - Ciji Ware

Ciji Ware,
a graduate of Harvard University in History,
is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author
of historical and contemporary fiction,
and two works of nonfiction.
An Emmy-award winning
former radio and TV broadcaster for 23 years in Los Angeles,
her numerous writing accolades include a Dorothy Parker Award of excellence,
and being short-listed for the Willa [Cather] Literary Award.
Her family circle includes a husband of many decades,
a grown son and daughter-in-law, and now two grandsons under four,
along with a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Cholly Knickerbocker.
Ware lives in a cottage by the sea on San Francisco Bay.

Visit her website
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

Buy the book: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBook | Kobo

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Book review & giveaway: The Madeleine Project, by Clara Beaudoux

Madeleine Project-CoverClara Beaudoux

on Tour July 12-18 with

The Madeleine Project

(biography/history)
Release date: September 12, 2017
at New Vessel Press
ISBN: 978-1939931498
288 pages
Website
Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman’s attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion.
Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.

MY REVIEW

The blurb for this book fascinated me, as I’ve always wanted to be the fortunate one to discover a treasure trove of personal items from a time past. (So far, I haven’t had much luck!) The book covers the first two “seasons” where Clara finds and begins to dig through Madeleine’s effects, left in the cellar in suitcases and boxes. Each little bit of the past intrigued me, and though I enjoyed the book, it was also frustrating. The format is such that the pages are filled with the author’s Twitter posts. Nothing wrong with that overall, but you can’t enlarge any of the photographs she’s placed in the tweets. For me, liking detail, it defeats the purpose of the book altogether.

I did, however, go find the author’s website and read through all four seasons, clicking happily to enlarge photos or to watch video. It was far more satisfying. (go here: http://madeleineproject.fr/ — Google can translate a lot of it for you if you don’t speak French, though Chrome doesn’t seem to like translating the storify’d pages of tweets.) I expect this book would be better in its print format than on ebook (I was provided a copy of the PDF via Edelweiss, which I found limiting), as a record of Clara’s experiences.

Don’t let the formatting put you off; the material itself was fantastic and fascinating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Project-Beaudoux

Clara Beaudoux
is a Paris-based journalist for the France Info news network.
The Madeleine Project has been wildly popular in France.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Clarabdx

In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page,
and the author’s main website

Follow New Vessel Press on Twitter | on Facebook
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Buy the book: on Indiebound | on Amazon

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Book review, excerpt & giveaway: The Enemies of Versailles, by Sally Christie

enemies-of-versaillesSally Christie

on Tour March 20-31 with

The Enemies of Versailles
(historical fiction)
Release date: March 21, 2017
at Atria Books/Simon & Schuster
416 pages
ISBN: 978-1501103025

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.
“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”
After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.
Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.
MY REVIEW
I knew very little about this part of French history, aside from the very basics of Marie Antoinette’s story (though as I recently read Will Bashor’s new book, I know a lot more about Marie Antoinette and her time in prison, I’ve begun to know more), and I had only passing knowledge of the Comtesse du Barry, and less still of the king’s daughter, Adelaide.
I should have known there’d be scheming, and lots of it. Even from prim and proper Adelaide, though a lot of hers seemed to stem from her desire to be pleasing to her father and to have his company. The scheming of the du Barrys (and not just the Comtesse) was staggering, and even a bit cringe-worthy. From the first (getting Jeanne married to a du Barry) and then further one (trying to get the king to marry her), sometimes I wanted to slap her (and her associates) and other times look on in wide-eyed admiration for their nerve/gall. And yet, all the women in this book, particularly the main players, seem somewhat let down by their circumstances. If only they’d been able to do something with their lives beyond scheming and men and position. But given the period, of course, women weren’t even full citizens yet, if I recall correctly. So their roles are not surprising.
This is a great book, very rich in detail, and entertaining. It’s a good way to get an introduction to the period that won’t bore you with a dry history tome. I really need to make a point of reading the other two books in the series, because they sound quite good.
EXCERPT
excerpt-enemies

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sisters of Versailles - Sally Christie

Sally Christie
is the author of The Sisters of Versailles
and
The Rivals of Versailles.
She was born in England and grew up around the world,
attending eight schools in three different languages.
She spent most of her career working
in international development and currently lives in Toronto.

Learn more her Versailles trilogy on her website
Become a fan to hear about her next novels!

Visit her Facebook Page

Check her Pinterest page

Follow Simon & Schuster on Twitter and Facebook

 

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Review, excerpt & giveaway: Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days, by Will Bashor

MARIE ANTOINETTE’S DARKEST DAYSWill Bashor

on Tour March 13-24 with

Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days:
Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie

(history – nonfiction)
Release date: December 1, 2016
at Rowman & Littlefield
392 pages
ISBN: 978-1442254992
Website | Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the waiting room for the guillotine because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely knew her days were numbered, but she could never have known that two and a half months would pass before she would finally stand trial and be convicted of the most ungodly charges.

Will Bashor traces the final days of the prisoner registered only as Widow Capet, No. 280, a time that was a cruel mixture of grandeur, humiliation, and terror. Marie Antoinette’s reign amidst the splendors of the court of Versailles is a familiar story, but her final imprisonment in a fetid, dank dungeon is a little-known coda to a once-charmed life. Her seventy-six days in this terrifying prison can only be described as the darkest and most horrific of the fallen queen’s life, vividly recaptured in this richly researched history.

MY REVIEW

Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days is aptly named, given the subject matter. Though I’d known the basics about her imprisonment and execution, Bashor’s book brought to life in great detail the hellish, difficult days and nights that she endured in prison. The historical research was immense (and many pages of notes and references are included, if you’re the sort that likes to go back to primary sources!)

I found it fascinating that there were so many plots to try to save Marie Antoinette’s life. Notes rolled up in carnations, invisible ink, letters written by poking a pin through a page… they were all there. Even in her darkest days, she had many supporters, both within and without the prison, and people at the highest ranks trying to negotiate to save her from the guillotine. Unfortunately (and as we all know), they were unsuccessful as things dragged on and she became less valuable as a hostage/pawn in the negotiations between France and Austria.

I definitely recommend this book to those interested in this period of French history, whether from the side of the royals or the rebels.

EXCERPT

When Rosalie received word that the queen of France was doomed, she fled to her room, stifling her cries and sobs. At seven o’clock, Warden Bault ordered her to go down to the queen and inquire if she would like something to eat. When Rosalie entered the queen’s cell, she found two candles burning and the young guard sitting in the corner. The queen was dressed in black, lying down with her face turned toward the window, her head resting on her hand.

“Madame,” Rosalie said with a trembling voice, “you did not eat anything the night before and almost nothing yesterday. Will you have something this morning?”

Tears rolled down the queen’s cheeks. “My child,” she said, resigned to her fate, “I no longer need anything; everything is over for me.”

“But, madame, I have some broth for you on the stove,” said Rosalie.

Recovering herself, and perhaps out of compassion for her servant, the queen said, “Well, Rosalie, bring me some of your broth.”

When Rosalie went to fetch the bouillon, she discovered that the Commune had given orders that the queen not be allowed any food at all. Although Marie Antoinette had been condemned to death, the Commune still wanted to show the people of Paris a woman weakened by terror and stripped of her noble pride. When Rosalie returned an hour later, the queen asked her for help dressing. The queen first stepped between the bed and the wall to hide her body from the guard’s view as she let her black dress drop to the floor. When the young guard approached the queen to watch more closely, Marie Antoinette immediately put her scarf over her shoulders

“In the name of decency, Monsieur” she said, “allow me to change my linen in private.” “I cannot consent,” the guard replied. “I have orders to keep an eye on all of your movements.”

The queen sighed. She removed her bloodstained chemise, replacing it with a clean one. In addition to the long trial and her hunger over the past few days in the cold, dank cell, the queen’s hemorrhaging had exhausted her even further. She then put on her white negligee and draped a large muslin scarf over her shoulders, tying it under her neck. After the queen had arranged her white mourning cap on her head, Rosalie watched as she carefully rolled up the bloody chemise and tucked it into one of its sleeves. The queen looked around and found a small crack in the wall in which she hid the tattered garment.

Rosalie was too distressed to bid Marie Antoinette adieu. The queen sat trembling from the October cold when Rosalie left the cell. A sworn priest named François Girard arrived next. The former curé of Saint-Landry demanded to hear her confession, but the queen refused.

“You are guilty,” said the priest.

“Ah, sometimes careless,” said the queen. “Never guilty.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Bashor picture

Will Bashor
earned his M.A. degree in French literature
from Ohio University
and his Ph.D. in International Studies
from the American Graduate School in Paris
where he gathered letters, newspapers, and journals
during his research for the award-winning
Marie Antoinette’s Head: The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution.
Now living in Albi, France,
and a member of the Society for French Historical Studies,
his latest work, Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie,
was released in December 2016.
He is currently working on the final part of his historical trilogy,
Marie Antoinette’s World: The Labyrinth to the Queen’s Psyche.

Visit him on his website
and here are many ways to follow him:

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Book review, excerpt & giveaway: The Paris Effect, by K.S.R. Burns

the-paris-effectK.S.R. Burns

on Tour January 9-13 with

The Paris Effect

(women’s fiction)
Release date: June 1st, 2016
at Velvet Morning Press
ISBN: 978-0692710852
246 pages
Author’s website
Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Friendship, loss and a tantalizing trip to Paris in this highly praised #1 Amazon Best Seller!
Amy and Kat had planned a secret trip to Paris. Even Amy’s husband wouldn’t know about it. But when Amy loses Kat to cancer, she knows the plan is gone forever. Or is it?

Guided by memories of her friend and dissatisfaction with her own calorie-counting life in Phoenix, Amy sneaks off to Paris while her husband is away on a business trip. Once there, she’s robbed, stalked, arrested and almost kidnapped. Worse, she finds that all her problems have come right along with her.
Through her adventures, laced with luscious descriptions of food and Paris, Amy learns that often in life, love and friendship, nothing is exactly as it seems. Grab a croissant and settle in for a decidedly non-touristy trip to the City of Light.
MY REVIEW
This book really hit me hard, as I recently lost a very good friend of mine to cancer, similar to the main character, Amy. I actually had to stop reading for a bit because it was too much for me. But when I did start reading again, I couldn’t really put the book down.
I cheered Amy on as she finally got up the courage to go to Paris, and was then concerned (and then relieved) as she got into scrapes, and then was somewhat rescued by a nice Englishwoman named Margaret. And yet, got into more scrapes. But, that’s par for the course, it seems. Very much Amy.
The book was a satisfying read, and the ending seemed just about right. I’d like to read more of Amy, and see what she gets up to next. Perhaps the author will give us a sequel. I hope!
EXCERPT

When I was six Dad gave me an old record player he picked up at a carport sale. I loved that thing—the hard rubber turntable, the chunky plastic dials, the dusty electrical smell. It came with half a dozen albums from the swing era, one of them “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook.” My mother didn’t listen to any music at all and Dad liked only fifties rock‐and‐roll, so to them the records were worthless.

But on Saturdays while they were out working in the yard, I would drop Ella onto the turntable, place the needle into the groove just right, so it didn’t squawk, and play the record over and over. Sometimes I’d tie my old blue baby blanket around my waist and waltz around my bedroom.

My very favorite song from that album was “I Love Paris.” Ella loved Paris in the springtime. She loved it in the fall. She loved it in the summer when it sizzles. She loved it in the winter when it drizzles.

At that age I didn’t know if Paris was a where or a who or a what. Well, okay, I was pretty sure it was a where. What I was totally sure about, even at age six, was that every single note of that song is about yearning.

About desire.

Paris assumes that if you are not in Paris, whatever, whoever, wherever you are is legitimate cause for dissatisfaction. Because if you are not in Paris, you are nowhere worth being. Because—mais oui!— in Paris life is bigger, better, and more beautiful.

Most of all, you can be who you really are in Paris.

Unlike in Phoenix, Arizona, an ugly, makeshift, temporary place, a place that feels nailed together just yesterday, a place of lost losers, a place that has never felt like home. This knowledge felt like a secret and possibly shameful thing I wasn’t meant to possess, insider information forbidden to obscure‐ish people such as me and my parents, people living in a two‐bedroom bungalow in central Phoenix, thousands and thousands and thousands of miles away from sizzling, drizzling Paris.

Eventually I realized how lame the whole thing was. Still, Ella Fitzgerald is the reason I defied conventional wisdom and studied French in high school and college instead of Spanish.

Now high school and college are long over and the faraway Sacré‐ Coeur quivers on my guest bathroom wall. Whispers, “The Plan.”

Whispers, “It’s not too late.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

k-s-r-burns-the-paris-effect

Unlike her character Amy in THE PARIS EFFECT,
K. S. R. Burns has never ventured down
into the scary and forbidden catacombs.
Nor has she run away from home,
but she has lived and worked in 22 cities,
one of them Paris
(because she does definitely share Amy’s passion for Paris).
Burns is also the author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF WORKING GIRL:
REAL-LIFE CAREER ADVICE YOU CAN ACTUALLY USE (Running Press 2009),
because while living in 22 cities she racked up a total of 59 jobs,
thereby learning a lot about the world of work.
She currently writes a weekly career advice column for The Seattle Times.
No longer a wanderer, Burns currently resides in the Pacific Northwest
with her husband and cat.

Visit her website.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Enter here

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Book review, excerpt & giveaway: Occult Paris: The Lost Magic of the Belle Epoque, by Tobias Churton

occult-paris-coverTobias Churton

on Tour December 15-21 with

Occult Paris:
The Lost Magic of the Belle Époque

(nonfiction – history – occult)
Release date: October 30, 2016
at Inner Traditions • Bear & Company
ISBN: 978-1620555453 – 528 pages

 

SYNOPSIS

Historian Tobias Churton explores the magical, artistic, and intellectual world of the Belle Époque Paris. He brings into full perspective the personalities, and forces that made Paris a global magnet and which allowed later cultural movements, such as the “psychedelic 60s,” to rise from the ashes of post-war Europe.
EXCERPT – Chapter Three
Meetings with Remarkable Men
We can see that symbolic powers, occult powers, and poetic powers emerge from the same source, the same depths.Gaston Bachelard, Preface to Richard Knowles’s Victor-Émile Michelet, Poète ÉsotériqueDuring the 1960s and 70s, British historian Dame Frances Yates astonished and perplexed the community of historical scholarship by her reasoned advocacy of the view that a highly significant factor in promoting the genesis of modern science and its representative the “scientist” was the Renaissance Hermetic movement’s veneration for the Magus. The Magus is concerned with extending his powers over all aspects of creation, even unto immaterial realms. In analyzing the life of Dominican friar Giordano Bruno in particular (Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, 1964), Yates demonstrated how the opposition of the Catholic Inquisition created the idea of Bruno as a “martyr to science”–he was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600 as an impenitent heretic–when his actual views were regarded in the main as superstitious claptrap by many 19th-and 20th-century scientists operating on “Newtonian” lines. Rekindled in Florence after 1460, Yates declared the gnostic “Hermetic Tradition” stimulated the rediscovery of Man as a free-willed Operator in the universe, a co-creator with the divine, to whom no secret need remain hid. [. . .] Thus “occult philosophy” was not in fact “hidden philosophy”–the deliberate cultivation of esoteric obscurity–but revealed what had formerly been hidden to the eyes of the fearful and the ignorant; in another word, science, but science with esoteric and spiritual balls: Gnostic science was the vehicle of revelation.

What is truly fascinating about developments in Paris in the 1880s and ’90s is that at the very time when many scientists had reached an apogee of materialist certainty verging on hubris–feeling themselves and their experimental methods utterly alien to the figure of the Mage who “dreamed but did not get real results”–yet at that very moment we find the Magus’s position as the desirable ideal and archetype being assumed not as the ideation of the scientist, but as the apotheosis of the ARTIST. The aim? That Art trump Science. New men will embrace the new religion, universal, already hidden in spiritual symbols, which, while the traditions and cultures around them might differ superficially, exist as one in essence.

Esotericism insists there is correspondence between all things. One thing opens a door to another: all rooms are connected. The new religion was at home in the Temple, whether of ancient Egypt, the Panthéon in modern Paris, or the contemplative mind in its study, or with like-minded friends. [. . .] In this religion, the Magus and prophet is not the scientist who limits the universe to measure it, but the Artist who seeks the infinite, the one who accepts the “open secret” of the universe as mystery. The Artist becomes one who reveals the hidden truth, not of matter itself, but of Man and the determinative occult world behind nature. Hail the Artist as custodian of spiritual being, of idealization, of beauty, of essential truth!

The dizzy heights of this realization were given verbal form in sweeping style by Bailly bookshop habitué Joséphin Péladan: “There is no reality other than God. There is no Truth other than God. There is no Beauty other than God.”3 Péladan deduced that the greatest art had necessarily been generated for the Catholic Church and the time had come for the Church to realize that the true hierophant of the mysteries was the Artist, the Magus come to the cradle of the Lord with gifts. [. . .] He was sacrificer and bridge-builder between the invisible and the visible, between this world and the world to come: the master of the ikon and of memory. The Artist’s business was with the ideal and the spiritual, not with reproducing the visual plane of nature like an ape. Paraphrasing Hermes Trismegistus, Péladan concluded: “Artist, you are Magus: Art is the great miracle.” The materialist scientist will only take you further into the endless darkness of matter, progressively enslaving the spirit to rational categories and destroying the divine humanity. The Magus, of whom Leonardo was a shining exemplar, combined search into the quantitative visible world with a no less penetrating search into the invisible and symbolic world, the infinite worlds, the boundless worlds of imagination, not to be confused with merely external fantasies as in the vulgar notion of “surrealism” or visual whimsicality. He was a man of imagination and his genius transcended his time, perhaps time itself.

So we see the figure of the Hermetic Magus return, and his gift was to justify the position of the artist, to secure him at the heights. [. . .] Hermetism made exalted sense of the Artist and his peculiar life and vocation. It thus became desirable for the new artist, who, like Redon, found the “ceiling” of the Impressionists too low for comfort to explore occult traditions, to partake more fully in the insights of the condemned gnosis. For this purpose, the L’Art Indépendant shop in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin and the Librairie du Merveilleux in the Rue de Trévise became essential calling points. In those oases of the ideal freedom, the movement could take its store of inspiration while sharing thoughts and carrying them out into the artists’ apartments, studios, informal salons, and café meetings. Now joined, Symbolism and Occultism shared mutual waves that would rise into an aesthetic flood, rolling through the streets of Paris in an attempt to sweep away the barricades of materialism, to oppose the Barbarians at home and abroad with unearthly Beauty and the power of the Spirit. After all the historic, failed revolutions that promoted what was perceived to be Paris’s decline into decadence, a spiritual revolution was afoot. Its weapon: ART, perceived as the exercise of the “High Science,” that is to say, Hermetic magic.

“Occult Paris by Tobias Churton © 2016 Inner Traditions. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
MY REVIEW
I really had no idea what to expect with this book, but what I didn’t expect was to be overwhelmed with names and places and events, basically being plunged headfirst into Symbolism, Decadence, Impressionism, and Hermetic philosophers… among others. I’ll be honest and say that this book took me a long time to read, and I still do not feel entirely certain of my knowledge of its contents. I rather feel like I should have read a Wikipedia (or other) primer of the cultural movements referenced, and especially of the men mentioned.
There were a great many mentioned, but I still do not have any real idea as to why/how the various persons noted became Symbolists, or Martinists, or Theosophists (etc).  What was the underlying motivation? There is a great deal of information in this book, and for someone better versed, I have no doubt that it would be a gold mine and inspiration, compelling and intense. I’m afraid I’m not that person, or at least not yet, not without learning an awful lot more first.
I am somewhat intrigued, however, and I am wondering about the role of women in these movements, aside from being ‘feminine’ inspirations, or symbols of wisdom, like Sophia. The art in the book often shows women, but they appear to be objects or symbols rather than real people. I suppose it would be a question to put to Churton himself, whether or not any women participated in these movements, and if there were any known more generally.
A note on the book itself: the hardback is a handsome edition, high quality, and has very good colour photographs in an insert. Definitely one for display on the shelf, if that’s your thing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

occult-paris-tobias-churton

Tobias Churton
is Britain’s leading scholar
of Western Esotericism,
a world authority on Gnosticism,
Hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism.
An Honorary Fellow of Exeter University,
where he is a faculty lecturer,
he holds a master’s degree in Theology
from Brasenose College, Oxford,
and is the author of many books,
including Gnostic Philosophy and
Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin.
He lives in England.

Visit his website.

Follow Inner Traditions/Bear & Company on Facebook | Twitter
Subscribe to their newsletter

Buy the book: on Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

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tweeting about the giveaway everyday
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[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

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3 winners will receive a print copy of the book

 

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