Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Countess Angelique

The Countess Angelique by Sergeanne Golon,

Once again Anne Golon and Serge Golon have written a wonderful story of adventure and
turmoil amidst the hardships of the early pioneering days of the New World set in the seventeenth century. I loved this story for the sense of romance, an authentic setting in a time -frame of early America and the descriptive quality of the writing.

A wonderful book to be recommended and I now look forward to reading the next Angelique book
in the on going saga of Angelique. A magical story in many ways, full of wonder, hope and
The Angelique books always
seem to add a new dimension to each and every book inspiring imagination and admiration for
Angelique and her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac, who against the odds, seemed to have an
uncanny ability to overcome the hurdles placed in their pathway of life, whether these be from the elements,
nature or people. The wonderful descriptions of the forests of the New World are also
quite magical. There is the beauty and also by contrast the harsh realities of the early existence
and battle for survival in these early pioneering days with so many variances of plot and characters
which are quite unexpected. There always seems to be something new and surprising to read as the story continues in each and every one of these books of Angelique.

I also enjoyed the book of “Angelique in Barbary” or the other title may be “Angelique and the Sultan” for the wisdom and
philosophies found in the pages when Angelique was in the east, in a desert and for a time at a harem.
This also brings to mind another wonderful book set in Old Constantinople, which today is Istanbul,
where the heroine of the novel was captured and taken to a harem. This was “The Aviary Gate” by Katie Hickman, set during the time of Elizabeth I, which I enjoyed reading last year. The beautiful love story always remained with me. This may also be the secret of the Angelique books, a unique and beautiful love story of the two main
characters, Angelique and her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac.

There is actually a loose thread in the story and I was slightly disappointed to read towards the end of the story that Joffrey
de Peyrac told Angelique that he could not risk a war with New France for the sake of a few
farmers' labourers, which did surprise me, as I remember from the book “Angelique in Revolt”
that Angelique took on the might of the French king, Louis XIV, to assist and give shelter to
persecuted Huguenots, and help them to escape from France. I hope to read more about
this incident in the next book, as from my reading, I cannot imagine that Joffrey de Peyrac would suffer
injustice and it would seem to be against his better judgement as he would wish to assist unfortunate captives. Angelique and her husband, with the assistance of another person did however, manage to prise away
one child who was relinquished to them, before the captors and their captives continued on their long walk through the forest, making their way to Montreal.

I will need to start reading the next book in the series to follow this quite compelling story,
which gives a wonderful insight into the lives and times of people from an earlier era.

My best wishes,
p.s. the cover of the hard cover edition which I read was of a quite glamorous Angelique,
wearing brightly coloured beads and a colourful gown, with distant characters, one in long white
evening cloak, as though a bishop or priest,  and which evoked a 
different time and place.  Even the cover of this particular edition which I read was quite
spell binding, with a picture of a cavalry and horses included on the back cover.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Madame de Montespan (Part One) Magical Enchantments

Lisa Hilton has written a book "Athenais, The Real Queen of France"
which I found helpful and full of information regarding Athenais de
Montespan.  For many years Madame de Montespan  was the delight of the court.  This was
also a sad situation for Queen Marie Therese, who was ever a virtuous
queen.  In an earlier post I described the early years of the court of France,
which may perhaps help a little in understanding the king. 
picture of a rose from wikipedia

Madame de Montespan in the Light,
Courtiers were entranced by your sight;
Mistress-a-Plenty of the Land
Pixies danced at your command
Little elfin shadows in a fairy band;

The king did raise a pavilion for you,
And a castle too:

Trianon de Porcelaine,
Tiled in white and blue
reflecting colours in all the hues
apricot, rose, white, gold and blue
of tulips, lilies and feverfew;
A “Chambre of des Amours”
Imagined as a flower arbour
Thoughts of love forever more;
Traced in silver, white and blue;
Louis's love seemed ever true:

Love domain
Abode of Spring”

with the flowers of spring;
with the colours to bring;
Resembling a palace of Nanking
Scent strewn gardens of the King:
Madame de Montespan and the King
At the palace of “Abode of Spring”
in Season's Splendour of the Fall,
Enchanting wonder to enthrall;

Oh, how fancy you would be,
Sparkling in your finery;
Madame de Montespan in the Sun
Shone her light on everyone;
Dancing lady of the Night,
You who were ever so bright;
Beautiful enchantress of the Night
Who could hold a candle light
to your charms and beauty alike?
You who were the King's delight:
The king not knowing of his plight
In the Evening or Morning's Light
Of Love potions in all their might;
Mystical potions his health must fight,
whimsical notions, your fancy's flight;

You need only wave your wand
Cast your spell and raise a hand
Administer a contraband
from a nefarious Paris band
casting shadows over the Land
of a suspected neighbourhood witch;

Soon the King would make a switch
Unknown he had been bewitched:

But for the king was a terrible fright!
Madame La Voisin of the Night-
endured the rigours of her plight;
with great dignity and affright;

You who stood so proud and tall
would sparkle at a glittering ball
reflected in a mirrored Hall
hold the courtiers all in thrall;
gave La Maintenon a worthy call
and with the children did install;
You who were so bountiful
airs and graces wonderful;
Charmed the king in everything;
And as the Clouds do form in Spring
A Queen Bee also with a Sting;
led the king a merry dance
amidst the traditions of Old France;
Fairy-tale carriage and horses pranced
and you did maintain your stance
queen of the court you did enhance;
Midas gave you a golden touch,
Your name was “quanto,” as how much;
the king and his pawn
on a chess piece lawn,
Madame de Montespan was forewarned;

Chateau of Clagny,
ever so fancy,
A Magical enchantment
throughout the years-
Entrancing enhancement,
of blossom and pears,
Symmetries and geometries
Delightful with the orange trees
Swaying gently in a breeze
of allees, parterres in a frieze;
Inspired by poetry of the scene,
jonquil, rose, tulip, and jasmine,
It is the palace of Armide...
a most enchanting novelty”
wrote Madame de Sevigny,
who amidst the scents of lavender
would in the woods meander;

Singing in palaces I ought to be
Ringing in years that I'd like to see
Thinking in terms of my Destiny”
Fairest lady of the Land;-
Madame de Montespan!

And the clerics would reprimand:
The king, his duty and the Land!”

Fancy free,
Within the Realms
of Fantasy be;
Madame de Montespan
dressed decorously
in her Splendour and Majesty
at the Court and at Clagny,
amidst the roses and topiary;

Fans and scarves
and paper parasol,
Colours to match your vibrant soul
Seemly in your queenly role;
In the grounds you would take a stroll,
Fashions which the king would extol;
beauty in the ever leaves
and remarked upon your sleeves
as amongst the foliage you would weave;

Fashions of the every day
Seen now in an ever play;
Beautiful greens and velvets too,
In all their matching splendour new;

Madame de Montespan
and the King,
visited meadows in the spring
and the king along,
would bring
his favourite dogs
Nonne, Pomme and Bonne,
adorned in a Marly hallway wing
gilded in a picture portrait frame
fashioned in everlasting fame
and in style they all came
In a Show which they all became;
Not to confuse the names the same,
Diane, Blonde,
Rougeade and Tane,
Pictured in their window frame
Picturesque enchantments in a pane;
Whistled and echoed the dogs by name,
Would enjoy their hunting game;

All the Court would come to see
Madame de Montespan in her Majesty;
Queen of the Night and Revelry;
A wonder for ballet and décor,
Enchantments from the wall to floor;
had a gift of coquetry;
gracious in vivacity;
dabbled in arts and chicanerie,
Amused with wit and frivolity;

Splendour and Water
La Salle de Bain,
Games and Laughter
at a fountain charm,
frolicking adventures,
a spirit of fun
daily in the ever sun;
picture of roses from wikipedia

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Splendours of Russia

flower gardens at St Sergiyev Monastery
 Splendours of Russia

I once visited Russia and Eastern Europe
many years ago. I was excited to visit these
places behind the communist curtain. I was also attracted
to the folk lore and traditions of these Eastern European

Checkpoint Charlie at the time was quite spooky,
like a no-man's land and also so poignant, I remember,
with memorials for young people who had been shot
attempting to cross the border. I remember also hearing
the dogs barking in the distance as I walked on this no
man's land between the east and the west in Berlin.

I was also impressed by the beauty of cities with their
medieval charm as for example the Old Town of Prague
and also Buda and Pest divided by a silver looking river
which disappeared into the distance.

Wasrsaw was also beautiful and the historic centre of
the town was rebuilt to the same plans and original architecture
of the old Warsaw, which had been completely destroyed in
the second world war. The city seemed vibrant with the
colourful buildings. The rolling countryside of Poland
was beautiful and also very green.

Romania was also fascinating and there I visited a little folk village.
At the time coffee and items which were taken for granted in the west
were very expensive to purchase for the Romanian people.
I also loved the decorative arts and gypsy Hungarian blouses with
their intricate embroidery which
were often on display in Budapest, Hungary.

On a recent visit of Russia I saw
some beautiful and exquisite decorative
renovations which had been completed
in Peterhof Palace. This is a magnificent
palace to visit in St Petersburg. It was
late in the autumn and fortunately there were
not long queues to visit the palace as apparently
there are during the summer months as many of the cruise ships
arrive at St Petersburg and there can be long queues to visit
this spectacular palace.

The palace is quite majestical and very beautiful.
To me, it also seems quite magical, with the wonderful
fountain displays in front of the palace. There was
a chequered black and white design on the paving by
the balustrade outside the palace which was interesting.

The weather was cold but this did not take away
from the magnificence of the palace and fountains.
Peter the Great travelled to western Europe and
St Petersburg is designed along European concepts.
The palace at Peterhof is magnificent, with a walkway
of trees and beautiful fountains with statues. This
is a beautiful setting. The interior décor
of the palace is magnificent, decorated in gold and white.
I loved this palace.

I do have a few pictures taken from my trip to
Russia last year. I was constantly held in awe
by the beauty and majesty of the wonderful gold
domes and spires of churches. These wonders add
enchantment to the splendours of Russia.

I noticed the change and relative freedoms from
my previous visit to Russia.
There are young people in Russia today who would
not have lived during the repressive earlier times.

The Spirit Wrestlers by Philip Marsden was a wonderful
book to read regarding these earlier times. It is actually
a travel book interspersed with stories of people the writer
interviewed and met. It was a different book as he travelled
to distant places and mountain villages, attended a prayer meeting,
met a priest who was building a church, a painter who explained
that the images and beautiful paintings of religious icons, etc
for some people would be the closest they
would have been able to come in understanding God for some of the
people. (I expect in times when people may have been illiterate.)
There were images described of Cossack horsemen riding across the
plains which seemed to be so evocative and real.

The Kremlin in Moscow is also magnificent to visit.
There was a church with medieval paintings and art works, which was
magnificent to view.

Beautiful trees softened the scene and I noticed the wind whistling
through the leaves, shimmering, as a guide was showing the group around.
They may have been maple leaves. It was quite beautiful and I also had a picture
taken beside a cannon at the Kremlin. This cannon is a decorative cannon and was
not ever fired.

Red Square is another magical place with St Basil's Cathedral. A gothic looking and brightly
coloured cathedral. On the day I visited
the many brides dressed in white were quite noticeable as this is a place which is popular for
weddings and brides. This was on a Saturday. There was also a horse parade in the square,
with many tourists and people watching the display.

The cathedral may have been inspired by an earlier church of Kolmenskoye as it has been described
as being a mixture of northern Russian architecture or of a mosque which was destroyed and also
of Byzantine influence. It is also fascinating to contemplate that the colours are taken from the Book
of Revelations with the twenty-five gold domes and the rainbow described for the blue and green

I was
constantly amazed by the wonderful treasures in Russia. The
underground also has splendid art works and decorations. Also
magnificent chandeliers. People from the villages who came to the city would have admired
the artistic creations, realising that it was not only the Tsars who could
create beauty and splendour.

I loved the visit to St Sergiyev's monastery and the marvellous
architectural splendours
there. The churches are magnificent in a wonderful setting of trees
and a courtyard, flowers and also a few cats. It is a very beautiful
peaceful place. This was built to honour St Sergiyev, who became
a hermit.

The white, blue and gold domes and spires which
soar into the sky and can be seen from a distance give a sense
of wonder and beauty to the scenery. The bell towers also add
a magical touch and give another dimension of the beauty at St
Sergiyev Monastery as also the beauty of the frescoes and paint
works. It is quite magnificent.

On an earlier visit to Russia I had visited a little village of Kishinev,
which I had thought at the time looked very pretty. It did seem
to be different from many of the towns, perhaps because of the little cottages
instead of the high rises. It is now a part of Moldava.

I also once remember visiting a little pavilion or monument to a famous poet
and the guide mentioning the numbers of people who were lost during the second
world war.

In St Petersburg we were also informed of the Siege of Leningrad in 1942,
when the city was cut off from supplies of food. This would have been severe
during the winter months. The railway could not reach St Petersburg with
essential food supplies.

The film “Dr Zhivago” depicted the Russian winters
quite vividly in some of the rural settings.

The guide on the tour often mentioned the famous poets, Russian literature
and the history of the Tsars.
St Michaels Castle in St Petersburg is itself an architectural
splendour. Apparently, as this castle was being built there was a warning or premonition
from a gypsy woman that for as many windows and balconies that the castle would have,
would be the number of days that Tsar Paul would live there. This prophecy was
proved correct. He was a son of Katherine II, Empress of Russia. His castle was built as
a means of protective security with a drawbridge and an older style fortress design.

There is a boat at the docks at St Petersburg, which is also fascinating to look around
and go on board. It was from here that the distant alarm was sounded which started
the revolution and the ministers were arrested and held captive at the palace.

The Winter Palace in St Petersburg is also magnificent. I can well imagine the fairy-tale balls
which would have been held here, with the dresses, costumes and settings, these magical balls would
seem from another world today.
The Winter Palace has a wonderful display of magnificent art works and is set in a majestic courtyard.

I was also fascinated by the magnificence of a square in St Petersburg which was
illuminated by wonderful lanterns in the early hours of the mornning. This looked
very majestic and beautiful. A story book setting. Beautiful! This square
was not far from the train station at St Petersburg. I had arrived in the early hours after
travelling from Moscow. The carriages of the trains were painted brightly. St Petersburg
is a very picturesque city, with fascinating sights and colourful buildings on the banks
of the river.

I also enjoyed
looking out over the Baltic Sea and towards Finland from the hallway windows of the
hotel in St Petersburg. The scenery looked wild and windswept, the coastline looked rugged
and it was cold, but also beautiful. This was in autumn.

Best wishes,

beautiful gold domes of Russia

more beautiful gold domes

St Basil's Cathedral

a picture of St Basil's Cathedral from wikipedia

St Basil's Cathedral

Peterhof Palace and fountains from wikipedia

black and white tiles by Peterhof Palace from wikipedia

fountains of Peterhof Palace from wikipedia

horse parade in Red Square, Moscow

parade in Red Square, Moscow

Throne Room at Peterhof Palace from wikipedia

bridge in St Petersburg

flower garden by monastery of St Sergiyev

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Magical Splendours of Paris and France

Magical Splendours of Paris and France

 Pictures of Chateau of Chantilly
from wikipedia:

I often wonder what it is which draws me back
to France, as a beautiful drawing on the other side
of the world.

One time in Paris I remember thinking I had forgotten
how beautiful France really is, as it had been seven years since
I had last been in Paris. This was as the sun was setting over the banks
of the River Seine. It was a beautiful scene. A golden delight with the reflecting
light glimmering in the distance over the architectural landscape of Paris;

I remember often watching the pigeons by Notre Dame, watching by the river bank,
wandering around the narrow streets, noticing cobbles and unusual signs, lamposts
enhancing the scenery. I loved the little book stalls selling water colour prints of images
of Paris, the River Seine and Notre Dame. I have seen the artists drawings at Montparnasse and the colourful scenes of Montmartre, the windmill a land mark picture post card scene. Little restaurants and tables and chairs,
it is all a flowery theme. Very beautiful in many ways. There are also sellers of flowers
on the streets, also selling orchids.

There were also colourful scarves being sold on a street corner for only one euro. This stall seemed to attract many customers.

Charming, exotic, different. I loved the waffles in the park of
the Luxembourg Palace and gardens, the way the leaves would fall to the ground,
loved the colour of the trees in autumn, golden and scarlet, painting colours on the scene.
The autumn colours of the leaves of the trees and the fresh breezes by the banks of the River Seine are quite beautiful. This setting is quite magical, beautiful to look at from the windows of a bus,
driving along the banks of the river Seine.

Louis XVI mentioned the leaves when the royal family was held in captivity,
and they were walking amongst the colourful leaves in a park one day.

The Palace of Luxembourg gardens was a favourite place, families and people
would enjoy the day. Would go in grace and sail their boats upon the
little pond. A Sunday afternoon was a busy time.

On a recent visit to Paris last year I remember so clearly the moon shining over the hotel and
buildings at night in a narrow street. I could see this from my window and it looked
so magical shining its luminous orb, looking down on Paris from the night sky.

The left Bank of Saint-Germain
des Pres is also interesting to wander around. It was at a palace of St Germaine-en-Laye
that Louis XIV was born, and apparently now is a restaurant, as I was once informed on Louis XIV

The Metro helps in getting from place to place and often is not too far away, distinctive
with a colourful Metro sign.

The shops of delicacies of fruit sweets and also mystical themes, as with crystals
and playing cards appealed also.

Paris, a city of light, a city of splendour. There is a saying that if one becomes bored with London,
they are tired of life. Paris is just as exciting. Many places of interest to visit.

The Louvre, which was once a palace, now a marvellous museum,
holds people in thrall with the famous painting of “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci.

It is here also that there is a portrait of the three dogs, Nonne, Pomme and Bonne, in a gilded frame. The artist, Desportes, was commissioned by the king, Louis XIV, to paint the portraits of the dogs,
often with a rustic beautiful background showing the beauties of nature.

It is nice to wander around the streets and along the banks of the River Seine. These are pleasures
not forgot. Timeless wonder with stories of the past, I recall The Thirty Nine Steps, which was
filmed in Paris.

The colours of the leaves, so sweet and fine, splendour of a marvellous time.
Autumn in Paris a thrilling time, the beauty and magic all around!

As I recall more thoughts and memories of Paris, I will write them down.

I once caught a train to Fontainebleau, a magical place with a garden view;

Trees shimmering in the distance, all clipped to a triangular shape, the tops of the trees a differing colour, of rusts and greens, from memory they seemed;

Fontainebleau is beautiful to see and I must return to this place again,
as on the day which I visited, the palace was not open. A palace which was given its name from a hunting dog named Bleu where he was found at a stream and also was seen the Nymph of Fontainebleau; This is the place where
Napoleon said farewell, the royal party, Queen Anne of Austria, Louis XIV, Princess Henriette, (Madame and
the king's brother, Monsieur) and the court set
out to visit Vaux-le-Vicomte; Nicholas Fouquet hosting his fantasy show
of magical enchantments at his new chateau; Creating amusements and setting the
scenes for an ultimate downfall; visions of wonder, but not a king,
he lived for beauty and a dream; A Minister of Finance, came to see the very best;
Did he also like La Valliere? This a question not really determined, but the king
may have seen him as competition. (Nicholas Fouquet's emblem was a squirrel and his motto was to what heights could he not ascend? His wife also had mirrors in her room, which would have been unusual for the time. )
In Margaret Irwin's book of “Royal Flush” Monsieur, the king's brother in the carriage
with the royal party returning to Fontainebleau taunted the king that Louise de la Vallierre's face appeared in
the decorations of the murals at the chateau!

The Prince de Conde also had a wonderful Chateau of Chantilly,
where the king visited and marvelled at the fountain displays, which he would imitate, though
Chantilly was different with the ability to acquire water more easily; Vatel, a famous chef,
was also resident at this chateau and there was a film made “Vatel.” This film was a splendour
for the magnificent decorative visual effects.

The seventeenth century, a Splendid century, full of hope and promise with
a new and vibrant king; the magnificence and splendour of the gardens
seemed to match the spirit of the times.

With plays and entertainments,
literature, the arts and tapestries , perhaps these were the best years of the king's
reign. The vibrant flowers of yesterday, today and tomorrow blossom still,
giving forth a radiant glow of what was past and is still hope for the future.
The world has moved on from the time of Louis XIV, but still the beauty of the time
lingers still, the Hallway of Mirrors, a showpiece resplendent with candlelabra,
glittering candle light overlooking a magnificent garden setting would have been quite magical,
a palace of dreams, a beautiful landscape of gardens
designed by Le Notre and decorative art works of the times.

Goodness about the king in all of his ways,
was beauty seen. He admired Nature and fell under its timely spell.

After the king's visit to Vaux-le-Vicomte, it did not take long for the king to start work on his own marvellous
vision of Versailles.

I will return to Versailles, in another post
and also Carcassonne, Lourdes and Nice,
and Azay-le-Rideau,
which I have also enjoyed visiting.

Something magical about France in the air.
It seems to me to be a kaleidosope of colours,
especially in the magic season of autumn.

Poetry seems only natural to describe some of the wonderful beauties to be seen
in Paris and France.

I think of the beautiful poetry of the early poets, the times of Eleanor of Aquitaine,
the colours and splendours of her court, the ancient rolls of the kings, the beauty of the arts and Book of Hours of the Duke de Berry,
and all manner of things.

My best wishes,

These pictures are from wikipedia of Notre Dame and of the Luxembourg Palace and
gardens.  Also Notre Dame illuminated by night.