Monday, February 21, 2011

A Happy and Prosperous New Year

I would like to wish a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all for 2011!

The weather on the Gold Coast of Australia has been extremely hot and humid over these past few months of summer.

  There has also been Cyclone Yasi in Northern Queensland and a major flood in Brisbane earlier
in the year.

  I am reminded of a beautiful poem by Dorothea Mackellar who wrote "My Country" which seems to sum up best the inspiring love people have for their country of Australia.  Dorothea Mackellar wrote this poem at a time when she was in England:

This link gives details of the poet's life.

A verse of the poem "My country" appeared on the front page of the Gold Coast Bulletin earlier
in the year after the damaging floods of Queensland.

Best wishes

Angelique and the Demon by Sergeanne Golon

Angelique and the Demon by Sergeanne Golon

Once again the writers of the magnificent series of
Angelique books which follows
the romance and adventures of Angelique and her
husband, Joffrey de Peyrac,
in the New World create magic.

“Angelique and the Demon”
leaves me spellbound and in awe of great story-telling,
with the wonderful prose and descriptions of the beauty
of the scenery of the coastal regions, the Gulf of St Lawrence
and Arcadia (the Coast of Maine.) There is an old map on
the inside covers of the book
which details the settings in the story.

The magnificent artistic drawing of Angelique and Joffrey de Peyrac
with a sailing ship in full sail in the background is illustrated on
the front cover of the book.

The colourful characters, the reality and sometimes
unreality of a situation were so well described which gave
an air of credibility and reality to the unusual set of
circumstances which Angelique found herself to be in.
Herein lies a talent of seeing things so clearly and
of expressing thoughts, ideas and philosophies of life
so succinctly on the written page.

The mystical enchantment of Angelique as the Lady of
the Silver Lake seems to evoke memories of Camelot,
as perhaps the town of Goldsboro, may very well
have been similar to Camelot,
where Joffrey de Peyrac was founding a settlement
on the shores of Maine.

Angelique and her husband, Joffrey de Peyrac, had
broadened their horizons by escaping the narrow
confines of the life of Versailles and all which life in the Old World
signified for new beginnings in the New World, and were therefore
more ready to accept new customs and ideas which may have been
anathema in the Old World.

At the same time the harshness of life in the new land
and its many travails gave them
a strength and courage to define life as it really is and also gave them
inner strength to surmount all obstacles placed in their path.

There were traces of humour to be found in the book,
as after a serious discussion of demonology with
the Governor,
Angelique enquired innocently of the Governor,
“Were they both going mad?”

It was fortunate that Angelique did have loyal friendships
which proved to be invaluable in times of need and self
doubt. Self doubt at times even as regards the beauty of her love and strong bond
she shared with Joffrey de Peyrac.

There certainly were demons in the novel, but not so much to the extent that Angelique
and her friends would allow themselves to be thwarted by them. As in a scene
where a new arrival to a settlement along the coast, Tidmagouche, in which Angelique and her few friends were stranded, makes light of the situation by saying that there are no demons which cannot be overcome or put in their place. She draws attention to her children within the context of the demons, which is
also highly amusing, to say the least! This being
when the new arrival, Marceline-la-Belle, was informed by the governor that she should not have arrived because of the demons.
This incident was also amusing, as again the extraordinary circumstances of Angelique's
situation seemed to be overwhelming and threatening her very existence and also of the
few people who remained loyal towards her while living in an atmosphere of hostility.

During these pioneering days of early settlement there were narrow minded people
who could easily be persuaded by superstition and perhaps also fear. Angelique had
to show courage above all in such situations.

Angelique, who had encountered Madame de Montespan and the intrigues of
the Court of Versailles,
some of the worst elements of society in her earlier days, was
now confronted by a menace of evil which was hitherto unknown to her
and she herself even acknowledged at one point in the story to herself
that she may have allowed her own self guard to
lapse in the very different circumstances which she now
found herself in living in the New World with her husband.

A Duchess from France, a governor, Monsieur Ville d'Avray,
with the gift of the gab, who was also extremely
humorous at times and the different personalities and quirks of the characters ( Marceline-
la-Belle was renowned for her ability to open shell-fish in record time) certainly
do make this story compelling to read.

Angelique befriends interesting
and fascinating people from different backgrounds and religions. She also
inspires loyalty and true friendship with characters of the novel. There
certainly is depth in many of the characters whom Angelique interacts
with in her life and in the story,
(as for example a
Jesuit Priest who had rescued her from drowning in the ocean in the preceding novel
of the Angelique series,
“The Temptation of Angelique.”)
Angelique also inspires people with
her wisdom and zest for life.

A tame bear (Mr Willoughby) who performs tricks,
a kitten and a wolverine give warmth, charm and pleasure. Another facet
which gives interesting scope
to this novel which is set in this wild landscape of forest, hills, rivers and ocean.

With a mix of ship-wreckers, sailors, pirates, cod-fishermen from France,
early settlers, trappers and the king's girls
(who were being sent from France to Quebec to populate New France), people with different
ideas and also with the indigenous Indians in the novel, who were often portrayed in a sensitive fashion, I found “Angelique and the Demon” to be
educational, informative and entertaining. The book also includes notations of actual events which occurred in history during these unsettled times.

Anne Golon has recently been honoured in France at an awards ceremony last
year for literature. The Angelique books have been translated into many different
languages and there may be another film of Angelique to look forward to.