Saturday, July 31, 2010

Upcoming Releases - August 2010

This is a compilation of titles we have found in several places on the web, feel free to add your suggestions if we missed them.

Historical Tapestry is now a Book Depository Affiliate and all commissions earned from sales through our links will be used to fund future giveaways.

August 1
Justinian: The Sleepless One - Ross Laidlaw
Georgette Heyer's Regency World - Jennifer Kloester

August 3
Poison - Sara Poole
The Red Queen - Philippa Gregory
The Secret Eleanor - Cecelia Holland
Dracula My Love - Syrie James
His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester - Jeane Westin August

August 5
Boxer, Beetle - Ned Beaumann
The People's Queen - Vanora Bennett
His Last Duchess - Gabrielle Kimm
The Empress of Ice Cream - Anthony Capella
Killer of Men - Christian Cameron
Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto - Maile Chapman
Sacred Treason - James Forrester
Unholy Awakening - Michael Gregorio
The Butterfly Cabinet - Bernie McGill
The Elephant's Journey - Jose Saramago
The Player's Curse: A Bella Wallis Mystery - Brian Thompson
The Loveday Vendetta - Kate Tremayne

August 10
Dracula in Love - Karen Essex

August 12
The Road to Rome - Ben Kane
The Personal History of Rachel Dupree - Ann Weisberger
A Royal Passion - Katie Whitaker

August 14
The Girl in a Blue Dress: A Novel of the Life & Marriage of Charles Dickens - Gaynor Arnold

August 19
Juliet - Anne Fortier
My Last Duchess - Daisy Goodwin

August 20
The Armour of Achilles - Glyn Illiffe

August 26
Snobbery with Violence - M C Beaton
Hasty Death - M C Beaton
Music of the Distant Stars - Alys Clare
Snow Hall - Elizabeth Gill
Sugar and Spice - Ruth Hamilton

August 31
The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet - Arturo Perez-Reverte
Empire - Steven Saylor

Friday, July 30, 2010

Guest Post: Frances Hunter on Rediscovering America (includes giveaway)

If you were a kid in America in the 1970’s, July 4th, 1976, was the biggest deal in the world. That Sunday marked the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the glorious capstone of America’s Bicentennial year. I vividly remember festooning the house with flags and watching President Ford’s speech from Independence Hall in Philadelphia on our old black-and-white TV. As the sound of the Liberty Bell rang from two thousand miles away, my sisters and I gathered on the front step at high noon to bang out “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a toy piano.

My other indelible memory of that year is of my mother reading John Jakes’ The Kent Family Chronicles, also known as “The Bicentennial Series.” John Jakes, a relatively unknown writer from Chicago, was tapped by Doubleday to write a series of books to tell the story of the founding of America. The first book hit the streets in 1974 with the jaw-dropping title of The Bastard. It told the story of Phillippe Charboneau, the poor illegitimate son of a French innkeeper, who through a series of improbable events ended up in Boston in 1775. Caught up in the tide and tumult of Revolution, Phillippe embraced the cause of liberty, changed his name to Philip Kent, and founded a fictional family that would manage to be involved in just about every momentous event in American history from the Alamo to the Civil War to the Johnstown flood.   

Jakes’ books were full of strife, romance, and struggle; they had body doubles, crazy villains, and plenty of suffering and sex. They also unabashedly celebrated the American experience. The 8-volume “Kent” series sold over 50 million copies; Jakes’ follow-up book, a Civil War saga called North and South, sold over 10 million copies, was made into a TV miniseries, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993, Jakes earned a second Pulitzer nomination for his immigrant saga Homeland.

A generation later, Jakes’ success is hard to imagine. In the eyes of big publishers, historical fiction about American topics is all but dead. At a time when non-fiction biographies of America’s Founding Fathers are frequently on the best-seller list, we are told that nobody wants to read fiction about American history, certainly not about American men. In the historical fiction genre, we now shy away from sweeping stories of the American experience and retreat to time travel, Tudor England, and romantic tales of somebody’s wife/sister/daughter/mother/Aunt Hilda. So what has changed?

For one, I think a generational change has taken place in the reading public. A few years back, history-based fiction like Jakes’ The Kent Family Chronicles and Howard Fast’s April Morning and Citizen Tom Paine were snapped up and devoured by the “greatest generation,” who saw themselves in the struggles of characters battling for liberty over the Old World forces of evil. Many people had been through Depression and war; many were still close to the immigrant experience depicted in best sellers they loved, like Irwin Shaw’s Rich Man, Poor Man or James Michener’s Centennial. People loved the idea that America was special; they still believed in liberty and democracy as a wonderful, ever-evolving experiment we could all be a part of.

Boy, have times changed. Nowadays, cynicism reigns. What began with the disillusionment of Vietnam and Watergate has reached its fruition in the post-911 world, reinforced by decades of historical revisionism in the halls of academe. To many readers, the founding sagas and frontier tales of the past seem ethnocentric and hoary. Rightly or wrongly, many people no longer feel like America is so special. In a world of constant and sometimes discouraging change, we are struggling to hold on to the thread of the American story.
It seems to me there is all the more need to tell that story, in a way modern readers can relate to. The reading public is hungry for heroes—perhaps not the swashbuckling heroes of John Jakes’ day, but real, flesh and blood heroes who fight, laugh, and bleed along with the rest of us, who dare to do great things, and more importantly, dare to fail. This is what we are going for in our books To the Ends of the Earth and The Fairest Portion of the Globe – Lewis and Clark not as cardboard heroes, but as real men.
Sister's Mary and Liz Clare writing as Frances Hunter
In 1976, John Jakes’ books depicted the greatest generation’s view of what it meant to be an American. In 2010, we see a more imperfect union than we saw back then. We are bruised and sometimes battered; our heroes are not square-jawed and intrepid but raw and real. But with all their flaws, they are just as worthy of celebration. Publishers, wake up. By picking up the thread, by telling the story, fiction writers can help readers discover America – and their own American experience-- all over again.


Frances Hunter’s new historical thriller, The Fairest Portion of the Globe, has been praised by critics as “invigorating” and “wonderfully exciting,” and was “urgently, wholeheartedly recommended” by Historical Novels Review. (Reviews . Her first book To the Ends of the Earth, earned a “highly recommended” rating from Library Journal, won the Independent Publisher “IPPY” Book Award silver medal, and was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year.


Thanks to Frances Hunter we have one copy of The Fairest Portion of the Globe to giveaway.

- contest is open worldwide
- leave a comment telling us about why you do or don't like to read about US history and your email adress (one entry per household)
- contest closes 15 August at midnight GMT.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Captivity by Deborah Noyes

Captivity is actually two stories intertwined that took place mostly in upstate New York in the early to mid 19th century. The first is about the real life Fox Sisters. They were a family of women who were mediums who claimed that they could communicate with the deceased. They had many followers but were also constantly questioned by people who wanted to discredit them. They were put though numerous tests which included improper poking and prodding of the women by men. The Fox Sisters inadvertently gave birth to the Spiritualist Movement.

The second part of the story is about the fictional reclusive Clara Gill. She long ago suffered the loss of her secret lover William. The scandalous affair came out and Clara never fully recovered. Her mother had died in childbirth and she lived with her father all of her life, until his death. She never married.

Maggie Fox is invited in by Clara's father to work. She served Clara tea in her room, which she rarely left. Slowly Clara started to respond to Maggie and they became friends, even though Clara didn't believe in the Spiritual Movement. Because of their friendship, Clara starts coming out of her room and eventually starts going out into the community again.

There are many layers to this story and they are slowly peeled away, layer by layer until the very end. Deborah Noyes shows both sides of the historical Spiritualist Movement/ debate of the time, while crafting interesting characters and plots. At times I found the story dragged and in fact, I had trouble getting through the first 100 pages and almost gave up. However, I was rewarded greatly with my perseverance and I discovered a gem.

If you're looking for a fast paced story with a neat and tidy, all questions answered ending, this is not a good book for you. However, if you are a patient reader you will be greatly rewarded with a thought provoking and insightful story.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HT News

How would you like to visit the sites of Tudor England? What about with a best selling author, both of non-fiction and historical fiction as your guide? In June next year, Alison Weir is hosting the Tudor Treasures tour. For full details (including the itinerary) head over to the Tudor Book blog.

Over at Austenprose, Laurel Ann is Celebrating Georgette Heyer all through the month of August. There will be reviews, guest posts, giveaways and more, so head on over to find out more.

You can win your choice of a book from Sandra Worth's backlist over at Royal Reviews.

There is a copy of His Last Letter by Jeane Westin up for grabs at The Burton Review

Monday, July 26, 2010

For The King by Catherine Delors

The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte's route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel's investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

After tackling the French Revolution in her first book, Catherine Delors now uses an attempt on Napoleon's life to show the police force's investigative methods, while portraying the new society that emerged after the end of the monarchy.

In Roch Miquel, the son of a skin man turned tavern owner, she presents us with a hero whose worth is based on his convictions and abilities instead of his birth. And he is a man who believes in method, investigation and patience to discover the truth instead of the torture his colleagues use. In such precarious times though, his past and the lives of his loved ones are also connected with his relationship with Fouché, the powerful minister of Police, and Fouché's ability to stay in Napoleon's good graces.

The story opens with the description of the attack and it is not difficult to feel disgust and anger towards an action that takes as first sacrifices an impoverished child and an animal. We first get to know the perpetrators and then Roch Miquel, the policeman charged with the investigation.

It is not easy to navigate in this world where there seems to be more shades of gray than black and white. If justice for all was one of the Revolution's demands then things don't seem to be going well. People are still convicted on weak evidence just because a scapegoat is needed and if the aristocracy of previous years is now reduced to a precarious position or living in exile, the newly rich seem to behave in much the same way and social injustice seems as common as before. Not to mention that Napoleon, who is not yet emperor but is already paving the way to power by calling former aristocrats to his court and having famous artists paint his portrait and glorify him.

In the course of his investigation Miquel interviews a great number of people of different social status and motivations. He is eager to find the culprits to please Fouché but his favouritism with the Minister means he is not trusted by his superior. Fouché has his own reasons to want the men brought to justice and even leads Miquel in the right direction at first. But he has his own agenda and is not above blackmailing Miquel with his father's imprisonment to get the results he wants. The attack of the Rue Nicaise, as this event would become known, is considered the first scientific criminal investigation and at least some of the perpetrators were eventually brought to justice.

As most of the characters, Miquel is not exactly likeable in the beginning, he is too devoted to his work and has a strained relationship with his father who wants him to settle down with a friend's daughter. Miquel has his own ideas about it, and believes himself already in love with someone else. As the story progresses he will have quite a few surprises about said woman and he starts to feel more vulnerable he will also become more interesting and complex. The romantic intrigue that Delors adds to the story was nice but I felt sorry not to read more about Alexandrine, we just have a glimpse of who she was and I thought she seemed very interesting.

One of my favourite things about the story was how well Delors portrays the common people - nobody seems too surprised by having to able to account for who they are and what they are doing or by having the police knocking on their doors at all times. I was also surprised by how well organised the Royalists were, how wide were their connections and how determined they were to restore the monarchy. Then the story is populated with real people and it was really interesting to read the author's note and then going on a "googling expedition" to find out more about them. For The King is not an easy and quick read but it is definitely worth the time you spend with it.

Grade: 4.5/5

I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of this book. And don't forget to check HT's conversation about For The King!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Guest post: Charles II's London in July 1660

Gillian Bagwell is the author of the upcoming novel The Darling Strumpet, based on the life of Nell Gwynn, who rose from the streets to become one of London’s most beloved actresses and the life-long mistress of King Charles II.

This is the third in a series of monthly articles chronicling the events from May 1660 through January 1661, in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Restoration of the English monarchy, the reopening of the playhouses, which had been closed for eighteen years under Cromwell, and the first appearance of an actress on the English stage, in contrast to the old practice of boys playing women’s roles.

For further information about the articles and Gillian’s books, please visit her website,

JULY 1660

July 1660 was another busy month for the newly restored Charles II and his government.

More men who had been responsible for the sentencing and execution of Charles I were arrested.  On Thursday, July 12, Thomas Scott and Colonel Daniel Axtell took up residence in the Tower, and the cell doors slammed on Sir Arthur Haslerig and Sir Harry Vane a day later.  The identity of the King’s executioner had not yet been determined, and in fact it never was, but one suspect, William Giffen, was imprisoned in the Castle of Edinburgh.

In April 1660, before Parliament invited him to return to England, Charles II had issued the Declaration of Breda, promising full pardon to anyone who applied to him for their actions during the wars.  The only people to be exempted were “Oliver Cromwell, Henry Ireton, John Bradshaw, John Cooke, their pretended solicitor, and all others who did actually sit and vote in the murder of our royal father.”  The House of Commons passed the Indemnity Bill in early July, but the House of Lords wanted to exempt everyone who had either sat in judgment on Charles I or signed his death warrant, with the sole exception of Colonel Hutchinson.  The King, frustrated by the delay and the possibility that the Lords would negate his promise to his newly-loyal subjects that they wouldn’t have to look over their shoulders in fear, went to the Lords and harangued them to pass the Bill as he had originally intended it.

As always, money was a problem.  The Army and the Navy were costing £6000 a day.  To give a general idea of how much money this was, according to Liza Picard’s Restoration London, a penny would buy a pound of the cheapest cheese, three red or white herrings, or a loaf of bread, depending on the size.  Not everyone thought the expense of the armed forces was necessary or advisable.  Lord Falkland argued that it was inconsistent for there to be both a Parliament and an army, and now the wars were over, the army should be disbanded in favor of the Trained Bands.  Colonel Birch thought an army endangered the people’s liberties.  Not surprisingly, the King didn’t agree, and the issue of a standing army remained contentious throughout his reign.

Another pressing problem was whether the Church of England would keep some of its Presbyterian aspects or whether the bishops would be returned to full authority.  On July 9, the Grand Committee for Religion debated all day and through an hour of darkness until candles were brought it, and then while the candles were twice blown out.  Finally they decided the King could “call such a number of divines as His Majesty shall think fit to advise concerning matters of religion,” and adjourned until October.

Not all was business.  On Thursday, July 5, the King, his brothers the Dukes or York and Gloucester, and both Houses of Parliament were entertained at the Guildhall with an elaborate pageant, “London’s Glory Represented by Time, Truth, and Fame.”  The Diurnal of Thomas Rugg recorded that “A lane [was] made in the Citty … by the livery men of several companies; and many pageants in the streets….  At Cheap sid his Majesty beheld a famous pagien, and staid there for som little space, where were speeches made by the lady paganetts.”  John Evelyn “… saw his Majestie go with as much pompe & splendor as any Earthly prince could do to the greate Citty feast … but the exceeding raine which fell all that day, much eclips’d its luster.”  Ah, summertime in London.  The average temperature for the month was 15˚C/59˚F.  Evelyn noted the “immense cost” of the event, which according to several sources, was £7888 2 s. 6d., enough to support those expensive soldiers and sailors for about 31 hours.

Our friend the diarist Samuel Pepys took up his post as Clerk of the Acts, after making a deal to pay £50 a year to old Mr. Barlow, who had held the post under Charles I and who Pepys had been dismayed to learn was still alive.  The King was continuing to reward his loyal supporters with titles.  Pepys’s patron became the Earl of Sandwich.  General Sir George Monck, who had almost single-handedly engineered the Restoration, was made the Duke of Albemarle and Master of the Horse.  James Butler, the Marquess of Ormonde, who had been one of the King’s most valued companions and advisors in exile, was made Grand Master of the Royal Household. 

Londoners continued to flock to have Charles touch them to cure them of the King’s Evil, as scrofula was known.  In fact there were so many people lining up to be touched that some limits had to be imposed.  Charles touched 250 people at the Banqueting House on Monday, July 2, but then it was announced that he would touch only on Fridays, would only touch 200 people each week, and those wanting to be touched had to apply to the Royal Surgeon, Mr. Knight, in Russell Street, for tickets.  Still no democracy, however –Mr. Knight would call at the homes of “persons of quality” who wanted tickets. 

The King was engaged in other touching that was not so wearisome.  On Friday the 13th, Pepys heard “great doings of music at the next house,” and learned that Charles and his brothers were “there with Mrs. Palmer, a pretty woman that they have a fancy to, to make her husband a cuckold.”  Pepys was uncharacteristically behind on keeping up with the gossip.  Charles had met Barbara Palmer in Holland in February and she had almost immediately become his mistress.  In fact by the time Pepys was writing, she was already about six weeks pregnant by the King.

Although the playhouses had not yet been given official permission to open, at least three companies were performing.  Sir Henry Herbert reminded the actors that the Office of the Revels had had authority for “the allowance of plays, the ordering of players, and the permitting of playhouses … time out of mind,” and started cracking down.  On July 28, John Rhodes was fined £4 6s. for unauthorized performances at the Cockpit up to that date, and he and Christopher Beeston at Salisbury Court each promised to pay Sir Henry £4 a week when their companies acted.

Meanwhile, Thomas Killigrew and William Davenant were taking swift action to secure a monopoly on theatre in London.  Davenant had a patent issued by Charles I in 1639 giving him permission to build a theatre and establish an acting company.  On July 9, 1660, Killigrew got an order for a royal warrant permitting him to do the same.  On July 19, Davenant drafted a further order to be presented for the King’s signature.

It provided “a Grant unto our trusty and well beloved Thomas Killigrew Esquire, one of the Groomes of the Bedchamber and Sir William Davenant Knight, to give them full power and authoritie to erect Two Companys of Players consisting respectively of such persons as they shall chuse and apoint, and to purchase or build and erect at their charges as they shall think fitt Two House or Theatres with all convenient Roomes and other necessaries therto appertaining for the representations of Tragedys, Comedys, Playes, Operas, and all other entertainments of that nature.”

Davenant took a bold step further.  The document, written in the voice of the King, ordered, “Our pleasure is that there shall be no more places of Representations or Companys of Actors or Representors of sceanes in the Cittys of London or Westminster or in the liberties of them then the Two to be now erected by virtue of this authoritie, but that all others shall be absolutely suppressed.”

Sources and further reading:


The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Met Office Hadley Center Observations Datasets


1660: The Year of Restoration, Patrick Morrah (Beacon Press, 1960)

The Commonwealth and Restoration Stage, Leslie Hotson (Cambridge Harvard University Press, 1928)

The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. Guy de la Bédoyère (Boydell Press, 1995; First Person Singular, 2004)

The London Stage, 1660-1800, A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments, and Afterpieces Together with Casts, Box-Receipts, and Contemporary Comment, Part I, 1660-1700, ed. William Van Lennep et al. (Southern Illinois University Press, 1963)

Pepys’s Diary, Volume I, selected and edited by Robert Latham (Folio Society, 1996)

Restoration London: Everyday Life in London 1660-1670, Liza Picard (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

HT News

Christy English is giving away a copy of The Queen's Pawn to members of Yahoo's Romantic Historical Fiction Group. Didn't know such a group existed? Me either!

News of a couple of big giveaways for historical fiction lovers. Allie from Hist-Fic Chick is giving away 6 books in celebration of her first blogiversary, and Carrie from The Tome Traveller is giving away 7 books to help clear some space on her shelves. Check out the links for the details of the books that are available and the rules.

Other giveaways:

For the King by Catherine Delors at All Things Royal and at Booking Mama
Adam and Eve by Sena Jeta Naslund at Let Them Eat Books
The King's Mistress by Emma Campion at Fashion_Piranha

We've had the Outlander novels, and the discussion of Outlander movies, as well as the upcoming graphic novel, and now there is Outlander the Musical. Check out more at the website, but here is just a taste of the music. Gave me shivers just listening to it!

Galore by Michael Crummey

It's sometime in the early 19th century, Newfoundland in a small fishing village called Paradise Deep. The village is anything but paradise and times are tough. The fish are no longer biting and a whale has beached on shore. There is no way to save the whale and the hungry villagers are waiting for it to die before they carve it up and portion it out. They will also harvest the oil for their lamps.

The whale finally dies and the villagers are carving away when all of a sudden a man pours out of its stomach. At first he appears to be dead but then it is discovered that he is alive. The Devine Widow is a healer and midwife and takes him home to nurse him. He is washed but no matter how many times he is washed he still stinks like dead fish. The other family members insist that he is kept in the shed.

He is mute but after a short time, healthy. They decide to call him Judah. many of the villagers decided that it is Judah brought them bad luck and that is why the fish left. They go after him but the widow has him hide.

The next day a bunch of the fisherman go out to try to catch some fish. They are desperate and feel it is they duty to try even though they now they will fail. They start rowing out but can't figure out where that nasty "dead fish" smell is coming from, when all of a sudden Judah comes out from under their gear. They decide it's too far to row back to shore and give Judah a turn at the oars. The men still call him "stranger".

Judah puts a line out and the fisherman think he's crazy they way he is doing it. However, "The stranger struck in then, hauling the line hand over hand, arms straining with the weight. The first pale glove of flesh let loose a pulse of oily ink as it broke the surface." Its squid, so many squid. The men fill up their boat and then hand of the line of squid to the next boat, and the next boat, until they couldn't carry any more. They discover that Judah is good luck, after all. After that they insist that he go with them every day they fish and then the cod start biting again.

This is a multi generational historical fiction saga. It chronicles two rival families, the rich Sellers family that pretty much owns the town and the Devine family, who try to scratch a living from fishing. When Judah is discovered from the whale, Mary Tryphena Devine is only nine years old. When she become of marriage age, she turns down every possible suitor, holding out hope that her secret love, Absalom Sellers will come back home and ask for her hand despite the rivalry between families. Mary Tryphena is finally talked into marrying Judah, to save him from King-Me Sellers.

Though Mary can't stand the smell of him, they consummate the marriage, in the shed and then Tryphena goes back to the house. Nine months later she has their son, Patrick. Later they have another son, Henley but is he really Judah's?

In part two of the book, Mary Tryphina is an old woman and still married to Judah, who still lives in the shed. The book goes on to follow her, her children, and her grandchildren, as well as the Sellers family.

I am a big fan of Michael Crummey. I absolutely loved the River Thieves and really enjoyed his follow up book, The Wreckage. He was born and raised in Newfoundland and it's the setting for his books. He took a departure from his usual writing style with Galore and I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it as much as his other works. He used a lot of folklore and some magical realism.

I am not a fan of magical realism at all. However, when I found out the Michael Crummy was finally coming to Vancouver (a friend of mine and I kept bugging the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival until they finally invited him) I had to buy Galore to get it signed. (See my meeting Michael Crummey post.)

That was back in October and now I finally got to read it. I was quite surprised by it. Even though I usually have a very strong dislike for magical realism, I actually liked this book. Though those parts were not my favorite by any stretch, Crummey is such a gifted writer that I was able to lose myself in the story. He has such strong character development and let me tell you, there were a lot of characters. His poetic prose from his other books was still there and pulled me in. I wonder what his next book will bring?


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner

Shortly after I finished reading and reviewing The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, I asked him if I could review The Confessions of Catherine de Medici when he was finished writing it. I loved The Last Queen and I wanted more by this talented author.
I'm so glad that he agreed!

In this fictional memoir, Catherine De Medici, the last of the Italian Medicis, is sent to France as a young woman to marry Henri, the son of King Francois. Henri has no interest in Catherine, as he has a mistress, Diane le Poithers, that he is very much in love with. After years of not having a child together due to lack of trying, Catherine is forced to bargain with Diane to have a heir and secure her future in France. They come to an understanding and Diane even stays in the room while Catherine and Henri have sex, coaching them into different positions that will help Catherine become pregnant.

They finally have heirs but what Catherine doesn't bargain for, is that Diane raises her children. The later come to resent Catherine for that arrangement, even though it was beyond her control.

After Henri dies Catherine seizes power to secure the crown for her sons. Four of her sons became King, in succession but Catherine either served as regent or advisor to each of them.. She tried to broker peace and tolerance between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots again and again.

History has labelled Catherine De Medci as an evil witch, as Queen of France however, C.W. Gortner shows a different side of her. He treats her in a much more balanced view, as a mother, friend, lover, and Queen. He pulls this off smoothly and keeps the pages turning in a fury to see what happens next.

A lot of the story focused on the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestant Huguenots. Although Gortner had to do this, I thought the story got just a little bit bogged down with all of the details. This is a very minor flaw and otherwise the story seems flawless.

I don't know what Gortner's next book will be about but I can hardly wait! I'd love to review it Christopher.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Mary Boleyn catches the eye of Henry VIII when she comes to court as a girl of fourteen.
Dazzled by the golden prince, Mary’s joy is cut short when she discovers that she is a pawn in the dynastic plots of her family. When the capricious king’s interest wanes, Mary is ordered to pass on her knowledge of how to please him to her friend and rival: her sister Anne.

Anne soon becomes irresistible to Henry, and Mary can do nothing but watch her sister’s rise. Anne stops at nothing to achieve her own ambition. From now on, Mary will be no more than the other Boleyn girl. But beyond the court is a man who dares to challenge the power of her family to offer Mary a life of freedom and passion. If only she has the courage to breakaway – before the Boleyn enemies turn on the Boleyn girls…
I read this book for the first time 2-3 years ago when everyone was talking about it and the movie adaptation was in the making. Undecided if I should part ways with it or not, I picked it up again for a reread. My opinion of this book didn’t change much since the last time, but I was even less tolerant towards the irritating Mary and the obnoxious Henri VIII. This is my original review with some changes…

I still remember getting really annoyed the first (and even the second!) time I read this book with the historical liberties taken by Philippa Gregory. The Other Boleyn Girl is loosely based on real facts and far from being an accurate historical portrayal. This was clearly getting on my nerves, which is never a good sign. Many parts of this story were based in unproved theories and even Mary Boleyn’s life is mostly a mystery. There’s very little information, especially about her relationship with her sister or/and the King Henry VIII.

Sometimes I don’t mind historical inaccuracies if the author creates a gripping story that makes you forget everything else. No matter how much I tried, it was almost a struggle to keep reading and just try to get to the end without actually trowing the book against the wall.

It’s rather obvious that the author has a huge sympathy for Mary Boleyn and even, occasionally, a bit of a condescending attitude towards the young, pretty and naive girl who fell helplessly in love for her king. Now, Anne is an entirely different matter, she’s described as a true villainess! An intelligent and ambitious young woman who did everything she could to attract Henry’s attention and become a Queen. Two sisters. The fair and the dark one. The generous and the ruthless. This omnipresent dichotomy was kind of annoying and took some of the characters complexity and richness.

Henry VIII gained here a portrait of the perfect man that I never really imagined he could be. He might have been a charismatic king, even charming occasionally but someone physically attractive, sweet and gentle and an attentive husband? For some moments, I even had the feeling that everyone had their schemes and intrigues, except for him. He is clearly a victim, just like sweet Mary.

What really bothered me in this story was the sensationalized end. The incest with the brother, the accusations of witchcraft and treason. Gregory gives reason to the king for murdering his wife when nothing, absolutely nothing proves she was guilty of all those crimes. Even knowing the flaws, the historical inaccuracies and trying to keep this as a light read, I just couldn’t stomach this one without some frustration.

The last time I read this book, Gregory’s writing style made up for the less pleasant parts. This time around, I was simply exasperated by this over the top drama.
Grade: 3/5

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Muskoka is the summer playground for the very wealthy families that want to escape the stifling heat of summer in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The year is 1914 and one such family living there in the summer is the Wyndwoods. This large family lives an easy and fun filled summer with servants to meet their every need. The matriarch of the family is Augusta Wyndwood who took over the running of the family and business when her husband died. Al she has to do is threaten disinheritance and the family members jump to attention and do as she bids.

There are too numerous characters to mention here however I will mention the main characters of this story. Victoria is the headstrong granddaughter of Augusta. She would like to have more of the freedoms that men have but Augusta would like to marry her off to a wealthy cousin, Justin who is in love with Victoria. Victoria however is in love with her other wealthy cousin, Chas.

Then there is Jack, Augusta's grandson. He shows up, when the story opens, as a waiter at the resort restaurant that the family goes to every Monday for dinner. The next day he shows up at the Wyndwood estate and is introduced by Augusta. Jacks father was disinherited by Augusta for marrying beneath himself. His family was very poor and he died fairly young, leaving his family to survive on their own. Jack hopes to ingratiate himself into the family.

The family live there usual glutinous summer on the lake, boating, swimming, playing tennis, and the other things in their idyllic lifestyle. However, things start to turn dark when WWI is threatened and many of Victoria's cousins go off to war, to eventually become part of "the lost generation."

This story travels from Muskoka, Ontario Canada to Britain, and the skies of war torn France. It includes the horrific bombing and sinking of the famous Lusitania ship of the shores of Britain. There is a little of something for everyone including, wealthy living, romance, mystery, adventure, and war.

It is evident the Gabriele Wills did her research of the period. She has beautiful writing and very interesting characters that leap out from the pages. There are a couple more minor story lines that I didn't really care for. For instance Helena, who marries Victoria's father James later in the story. She is a stereotypical conniving stepmother. This took away from the story for me. That said, I really did enjoy this book over. This book is the first of a trilogy and I hope to read the other two books.


Gabriele Wills was our guest back in April and she did a guest post on Why I Love Times of Monumental Change.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why I Love Cemeteries by Vicki León

Some people collect art. Or classic cars. I collect final resting places. That might sound a little morbid. Are you wondering why I’d spend any of my days on earth, exploring a Roman necropolis, sharing a picnic with the dead at Athens’ oldest cemetery, or studying the female gladiators depicted in the ruins of Ephesus?

Because a cemetery is one of the places where the action is. Where the stories are, for a writer. Where unsung history can be found—and I’m a finder. After 30 years as a nonfiction author, I’m firmly addicted to researching the deep past.

The Mediterranean lands are my special focus, but I relish travel to more faraway places, too. Invariably they have burial sites, from humble niches to elaborate monuments, where ancient ritual and superstition intersect. I look at my voyages as a privileged form of time-travel, combining mental excursions with physical journeys.

Oddly enough, this graveyard enthusiasm of mine has enriched my foreign language studies. For instance, my interest in inscriptions on stelae helped me learn Greek. (Trying to locate cemeteries also motivated me to learn how to understand Greek answers to my questions!)

During Rome’s long heyday, tombs in Rome and throughout the Empire came to resemble “billboards” in stone. From them, I’ve gained insight into countless human stories. The iconography is often literal: for instance, the busy clan of the Haterii, a family of Roman builders, put exquisitely detailed bas reliefs on their tomb, showing their architectural projects, right down to the building cranes. Butchers, bakers, shipwrights, and silversmiths proudly displayed the tools of their trades on their graves. So did doctors. Charioteers and gladiators posted won-lost records on theirs. Even humbler folks, including slaves and freedwomen, created elaborate tomb visuals.

Tomb of Haterii. Bust of man. Cast in Pushkin museum from original in Musei Vaticani, 79-80 AC. Found in 1848 near Porta Maggiore, Roma. Photo by shakko published under the Creative Commons license.

These funereal works of art must have been a comfort and source of pride to the deceased’s family. Today’s historians, archaeologists, and writers like me are equally thankful for these invaluable clues about the everyday joys and sorrows of the past.

There’s nothing solemn about many of these places. Among the earthy Greeks and Romans, certain sexual saleswomen routinely used cemeteries to post adverts for potential clients. And later, as rendezvous sites. After seeing the solid concrete “beds” of the Pompeii brothels a few years ago, I’d say that a horizontal crypt might look like an upgrade.

Hanging out in these cities of the dead, I’ve had shivery moments as well. In researching my book on science and superstition (How to Mellify a Corpse) I’ve had to delve into Greco-Roman attitudes towards death—and why they feared ghosts so much.

Here’s part of the answer: “Death rites had high priority among those still above ground. Neither Greeks nor Romans were sanguine about the prospects of a rewarding afterlife. The final launch, however, had to be done right because ghosts were easily enraged by corner cutting. Since even those of modest means were meticulously memorialized, the funerals of the great or even the quasi-great had to be spectacular.”

Cranky ghosts notwithstanding, visiting the ancient dead gives me a sense of history, a peek at the awesome sweep of centuries. Their fine and private places reveal to me how much we have in common with the men, women, and children who lived and died thousands of years before us.


Vicki León’s love of travel, her fondness for foreign languages, and her craving for exotic foods and archaeology would be enough to make a satisfying life. As it happens, however, her passions have led her to become a multi-faceted writer of non-fiction for young and old. Beginning in 1989, she’s written nine well-reviewed books on women’s history that have sold over 350,000 copies and become evergreen backlist titles. The best-known: the 4-book Uppity Women in History series for Conari Press. She is also the author of the acclaimed Working IX to V. Her new book, How to Mellify a Corpse was released July 6, 2010. To know more about Vicki you can visit her website:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Winner of the Book Cover Mystery

We have collated the names of all those who got all the correct answers  and we have selected a winner using The winner is:



Please send your shipping address and three book choices to historical.tapestryatgmaildotcom

Here are the answers:

1 - For the King by Catherine Delors

2 - Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

3 - Band of Angels by Julia Gregson

4 - Madame Serpent by Jean Plaidy

5 - Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

6 - The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani

7 - The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier

8 - Devil's Brood by Sharon Kay Penman

9 - Angélique: The Marquise of the Angels by Sergeanne Golon (or Anne Golon)

10 -Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

Congratulations are also in order to all the amazing ladies who relentlessly searched for all these covers during this week. Thanks for participating in this game. We truly hope you had fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Challenge: The Alphabet in Historical Fiction

It's time for a new letter in The Alphabet in Historical Fiction but first let's take a look at our entries for the letter N:

1. Teddy (So Many Precious Books) - N is for Newfoundland
2. Cat (Tell me a Story) - New York by Edward Rutherford
3.  Marg (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) - N is for New York
4. Sarah (Reading the Past) - N is for Némirovski
5. Ana (Aneca's World) - N is for Napoleon
6. Carrie (Opalescent Essence) - N is for Norman
7. Rowenna (Hyaline Prosaic) - N is for Némirovski
8. Leya (Wandeca Reads) - N is for New York City

And now it's time to remember the rules and introduce the new letter!

Each fortnight you have to write a blog post about an historical fiction book of your choice (it might even be something you already read before), but it MUST be related to the letter of the fortnight.

You have several possibilities:

- the first letter of the title
- the first letter of the author's first name or surname
- the first letter of a character's first name or surname
- the first letter of a place where an historical event took place

You just have to choose one of them and participate.

Please check our blog each 1st and 15th of the month to find out our new letter, and then link your post (not your blog) back to our page through Mr Linky (see below). Then come and check to see who else has posted and visit their blog to find out all the details of the book they were reading.

You'll have until July 31th to complete your mission, the next letter will be published on August 1st and it is the letter O:

Why I love Eleanor of Aquitaine by Robert Fripp *GIVEAWAY*

As I write this, the Atlantic magazine is running a cover story: "The End of Men: how women are taking control of everything," by Hannah Rosin (July, 2010.)

Contrast that with my concept of Eleanor of Aquitaine as she dictates her memoirs in the year 1203. In this passage she is looking back on her first decade in Paris as the queen of France, beginning in 1137. "Women were wombs," she begins, "wombs to put to marriage; wombs to breed; wombs to command; wombs who would meekly obey. A man served two masters, his lord and the Church. A woman served three, for she obeyed her man before the other two."

Eleanor's campaign (if it was a campaign) to improve the status of noble women borrowed from the teachings of at least two influential men. One was the philosopher Peter Abelard; the other, the charismatic wandering preacher, Robert d'Arbrissel, founder of Fontevrault, the abbey for nuns as well as monks and always governed by a woman. (Eleanor is buried there.)

Here she is on Abelard: "Peter’s message was: question blind faith, for it is blind. And question that which you obey. That was why we women were so fond of him. Not just for his audacity. He raised at least the hope of a free mind. How bold he made us feel. What vicarious joy!"

In Robert d'Arbrissel she finds, "...a man of vision. He came from Brittany, a land of Celts whose ancient tales expound on British legends. They tell of magical and healing powers possessed by women in the days of the great King Arthur. Celts are not jealous of female arts: rather they revere them. It is no coincidence that both d’Arbrissel and Abelard were Bretons. The Celtic mind permits Woman her full measure of humanity."

"Historical Tapestry" asked me to explain, "Why is Eleanor of Aquitaine so popular in fiction right now?" After a decade working on "Power of a Woman..." I can say: Because her time is now.

The first years of the past century saw women struggle for the right to vote. The first decade of this century finds them continuing to break from a cocoon of condescension to achieve emancipation in the fullest sense -- in human life and living. Transpose the following passage into modern terms as "my" Eleanor rejects her centuries-old conditioning; and observe how her ancient dream slips into place in the jigsaw of our modern times. Here is Eleanor on what must have seemed to her an impossible hope:

"In the time of my grandmothers, worthies of the Church spilled earnest ink and heated breath upon this question: do women possess immortal souls? The men who asked that question held that women were but passive vessels for the nurture of their husbands' seed. Think of it, Aline. The very proposition begs a second question: do women give birth to soul-less snakes or to the souls of men? All men are born of women. So, how is it that a beast-like thing, having no soul, gives birth to kings? Pah! I myself have carried God’s anointed! Jesus was of woman born! Even a Church whose one good eye looks kindly upon males concedes the truth of that! So how can it be that women have less claim to souls, or claim to lesser souls?"

In Eleanor of Aquitaine's character I discovered the toughness and agility of the feminine spirit that my late mother-in-law possessed in abundance. So, who was she?

Cipe Pineles reached New York from the wreckage of the Austro-Hungarian empire in the early 1920s with her mother, two sisters and some English acquired by reading Charles Dickens aloud. She soon graduated high school, at the same time winning The Nation's national essay contest. As a young designer she knocked on doors with her portfolio for a year before magazine entrepreneur Condé Nast himself placed her in a job with potential. She never looked back.

What had Cipe Pineles in common with Eleanor? They were cut from the same cloth. They both had the practical intelligence – the nous, in Britain -- to show flexibility, pragmatism, courage and persistence under fire. They both made progress in the face of systemic opposition by men. Under Condé Nast, Cipe became the first woman appointed art director of major consumer magazines. Throughout her working life she competed in a tough, men-only field, and in each of her jobs the majority of people reporting to her were men. For thirty years I watched Cipe pull threads in managing professional and family matters. She was also the most gregarious, most generous woman one could meet. She threw great parties.

Eleanor of Aquitaine had been brought up in the relatively relaxed social and religious climate of Poitou and Aquitaine. Her only brother died, requiring that Eleanor be led from the feminine shadows and groomed to assume a degree of leadership normally reserved for males.

Her move to Paris as the queen of France at the age of 15 took Eleanor to a different world, one where priests and abbots ruled, and where sanctity challenged joy and gaiety. The sudden change must have weighed like a leaden blanket. But Eleanor held fast to the ambit of her youthful mind, inching forward where she could and learning from severe mistakes. Her years as the mistress of Paris may have been grim, but they taught perseverance in the face of adversity and, no doubt, toughened her cool reserve. Here is Eleanor instructing her young secretary, Aline, in deportment:

"There is a quality about a woman in her prime, transcendent of the flesh, for which men pine. Mark me, Aline, men's quest to possess us is a much greater thing than a stag sniffing hinds.

"Thus was I worshipped, in song and in verse. I say this to you now, not from the folly of vanities past, but as the earthly embodiment, long ago, of that essence which is the power of a woman.

"That is what draws, Aline. That is what draws men in. It is an essence of grace not captured or crafted in fine fabric and squirrel fur, though it may clothe itself in them. It does not depend upon beauty; it lives in a radiant hauteur, a comely and commanding presence. It finds life in the rustle of silk, but not the silk; in the lightest of footfalls, but not the foot; in the bearing, apart from the being."

Why is Eleanor popular now? Because, by seeing far, she projected potential for women's success into a future time -- our century -- as well as her own.

Medieval Europe's formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine dictates her memoirs in Robert Fripp's "Power of a Woman. Memoirs of a turbulent life: Eleanor of Aquitaine," Copyright Robert Fripp 2010. Visit for excerpts, reviews, a blog, an "Eleanor of Aquitaine timeline" and a reading group guide.


Robert Fripp kindly offered three copies of his book and also 10 copies of  "Eleanor of Aquitaine's Timeline" in PDF for a giveaway.


- two book copies US only and one copy Worldwide
- leave a comment and your email adress (one entry per household)
- contest closes 30 July at midnight GMT.

We'll select randomly the three winners of Power of a Woman and 10 others for "Eleanor of Aquitaine's Timeline". Good luck to everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last day to join the Book Cover Mystery

You can still join the game!
Contest ends the 15 July at midnight GMT

Reading about... The French Revolution

Today, France is celebrating the 221 years of La Prise de la Bastille (The Storming of the Bastille, also known as Bastille Day). The Bastille was a famous prison and fortress, a symbol of the despotic governement, so the storming is traditionally seen as the beginning of the Revolution. The 14 July 1789 became one of the most important events in history. This year, Historical Tapestry decided to celebrate this date sharing a small list of books set during this turbulent and captivating period.

- French Revolution series by Sally Gardner
  1. The Red Necklace
  2. The Silver Blade
- Scaramouche series by Rafael Sabatini
  1. Scaramouche
  2. Scaramouche the Kingmaker
- Sir Percy Blakeney series (Scarlet Pimpernel) by Baroness Orczy

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel
  2. I Will Repay
  3. The Elusive Pimpernel
  4. Eldorado
  5. Lord Tony's Wife
  6. The League of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  7. The First Sir Percy
  8. The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  9. Pimpernel and Rosemary
  10. Sir Percy Hits Back
  11. Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  12. The Scarlet Pimpernel Looks At the World
  13. The Way of the Scarlet Pimpernel
  14. Sir Percy Leads the Band
  15. Mam'zelle Guillotine

- Annette Vallon by James Tipton

- A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

- The Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

- The Knight of Maison Rouge by Alexandre Dumas

- The English Heiress by Roberta Gellis

- Ninety-Three by Victor Hugo

A few books about the Royal family (mostly Marie Antoinette):

- French Revolution Series by Jean Plaidy
  1. Louis the Well Beloved
  2. The Road to Compiegne 
  3. Flaunting, Extravagant Queen

- The Fatal Friendship: Marie Antoinette, Count Fersen and the Flight to Varennes by Stanley Loomis

- Marie Antoinette: The Portrait of an Average Woman by Stefan Zweig

- To the Scaffold: The Life of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

- Queen's Confession by Victoria Holt

- Trianon: A Novel of Royal France by Elena Maria Vidal

- Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter by Susan Nagel

- Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund
If you have any other recommendations, don't hesitate to share. Happy Bastille Day!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Paris of For The King

While reading For the King, it's almost impossible not being thirsty for more information about one of the main characters of this story: Paris. Like Catherine Delors, I am also completely and utterly in love for this city. I wanted to share, in a very (very!) modest way, a little bit of my passion for Paris. My initial project was to follow some of the excerpts of the book and take photos of the locations myself. With the extreme heat and the lack of time, I finally decided to use other tools and only select a handful of places. There's a bit of everything, history, my favorite spots and just some curiosities. Most of the old images I found are from the 19th century, but they can give us a little idea of what some places used to be compared with the recent photographs.


Night had long fallen on Rue Nicaise. People were beginning to call it Rue Saint-Nicaise again, for the saints were reappearing in everyday language. (page 1)

Rue Nicaise (in red), located in the 1st arrondissement, disappeared in 1853 during the extension of the Rue de Rivoli. The only reason I knew this street was because of the plot against Napoleon. The street was not very far from the Palais Royal. Today you can also visit nearby one of the most known and important museums in the world, the Louvre.


A few hundred yards away, the lights at the windows of the Palace of the Tuileries glowed dim through the fog. (page 1)
Fête by Night at the Tuileries on June 10, 1867 during the Second Empire by Pierre Tetar van Elven.

The Tuileries seen from the Louvre (before 1871)

The Palace of the Tuileries was built under Catherine de Medici orders after the death of Henri II, but she finally never lived there and neither did the following French sovereigns who left the building unfinished. It will be Louis XIV who will take matters into his hands and give the Palace it's imposing figure. It will be the refuge of Maria Antoinette and her children after leaving Versailles. The Tuileries will be the favourite residence of Kings and Emperors until a fire in 1871, during the Paris Commune, destroyed everything leaving the walls and barely anything else. It was finally demolished a few years later... Curiously, there's a national committee who wants to rebuilt the Tuileries which fired up many controversial discussions these past years.


The newspapers had announced that the First Consul was simply to attend the première of The Creation of the World, by Haydn, at the Opera. (page 2)

Théâtre national de l'Opera Comique ou Salle Favart in 1840 and today (below)

Le theâtre national de l'Opéra-Comique also known as “Salle Favart” is an opera house in the 2nd arrondissement, and one of the most important ones in the beginning of the 19th century. I don't know much about it, my fascination over the Opera Garnier ceillings painted by Chagal always makes me forget that other opera houses even exist in Paris. But after reading For the King, I'm very curious about it and I'll certainly visit.


He pushed to the Pont-Royal, the "Liberty Bridge", as the scoundrels now had the impudence to call it. (page 3)

Pont-Royal and the Louvre (left) in 1850 and today (below).

Photo by dalbera under the Creative Commons license.

The Pont-Royal is the 3rd oldest bridge in Paris, after the Pont-Neuf and Pont-Marie. During history the Pont-Royal's name was changed several times: Pont National or even The Pont des Tuileries before regaining its original name. Something I didn't know, there's 37 bridges over la Seine!


He had left the Police Prefecture earlier than usual to reach the tavern of the Mighty Barrel, located on Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs, in time for dinner. (page 6)

Photo by twiga269 under the Creative Commons license.

A building at the corner of the Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs.

The Rue Croix-des-Petits-Champs is located in the 1st arrondissement near the Palais Royal, the Louvre and also the Rue du Rivoli, one of the most important commercial streets in town.


L'Hôtel-Dieu was next door, to the side of the cathedral. It had officially been called L'Hospice de la République since the Revolution, but Parisians had never stopped using its old name. (page 19)

19th century print with the old Hotel-Dieu at the right and above you can see how it looks today.

The oldest hospital of Paris, l'Hôtel-Dieu was a place for the poor and destitute. After a fire in 1772 many modifications were made, but the buildings were still too small. Finally during the Second Empire, the Baron Haussmann (also known as the man who modernised Paris) demolished the old hospital and built a new one.

After a half hour Limoëlan had crossed the river over the Pont-Royal and reached Rue Cassette, a genteel street, quite deserted at this time of the night.(...) He pulled a key and let himself into a vast house.(page 33)

Photo by Clio20 under the Creative Commons license.

Photo by Mu under the Creative Commons license.

At the end of the street (first photo), one of most interesting houses of Rue Cassette (6th arrondissement) seen from the Rue Honoré-Chevalier. The street is very near from the Jardins du Luxembourg, one of the most beautiful places in Paris (above).


Roch let himself into a genteel building on Rue de Jouy, on the Right Bank of the Seine. (page 37)

One of the beautiful doors of Rue de Jouy, located in the Marais. Just one street away you can also see one of my favorite places in the neighborhood, the Hotel de Sens (above), today the Forney Library. The 15th century building was owned by the archbishops of Sens and even Marguerite de Valois, la Reine Margot, lived there for about a year. You can see more photos here.

Photo by Pline under the GNU and the Creative Commons license.


Roch returned to the Isle of the Cité and turned right towards the Quai des Orfèvres, the Goldsmiths Embankment. There, on Rue de Jerusalem, behind the main courthouse, the Police Prefecture was housed in a decrepit warren of turrets and unsteady walls, reeking of dry rot, dust, mildew and old paper. (page 39)

Quai des Orfèvres, Palais de justice, and Notre-Dame (4th arrondissement).

Photo by Thbz under the Creative Commons license.

The main entry of the Prefecture de Police.

 You actually have Notre-Dame, the Hôtel Dieu and the Police Prefecture all nearby in the Île de la Cité.
Since the beginning of the Spring until the end of Summer all the island is very crowded. A few minutes away from Notre-Dame you can also visit (even if only a very small part is open to the public), the Conciergerie (above), one of my favourite buildings in Paris and the residence of the Kings of France until the 14th century. Used later as a prison, their rooms held famous prisoners like Marie-Antoinette, Charlotte Corday, Robespierre, La Comtesse du Barry, among many others.


Blanche still smiling, held out her hand to Roch.
“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Sir. Will you do me the honour of calling on me tomorrow night? It will only be a simple musical gathering. I live on Rue de Babylone.” (page 62)

Posted by Marc in the Forum CPA.

Photo by tomoa i under the Creative Commons license.

The first image is actually a postcard probably from the beginning of the century. We cannot see much in the second photo, but, to me, the Rue de Babylone is mostly known because of two things: Le Bon Marché, one of my favorite stores in Paris and La Pagode, one of the most exceptional cinemas in this town with its beautiful garden and Japanese room.


Roch decided to go question the witness and inspect the premises himself . Rue de Paradis, Paradis Street, unpaved and flanked by dingy houses, did not quite live up to its name. (page 84)

Photo by Milliped under the Creative Commons and GNU license.

The Rue de Paradis is located in the 10th arrondissement. At the end of the 19th century the Choisy-le-Roi faience industry of the Boulenger family moved to this street. We can still see some signs of these activities, like the facade of the building above.

Photo by shufgy under the Creative Commons license.


For the King has many details about Paris and some lead us to very surprising discoveries. Again, I only picked up a few locations/buildings but there's many things to explore. This is only a small visit but I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

See also: