Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Grass Harp by Truman Capote

The Grass Harp

A wonderful mesmorising story by Truman Capote which is so

beautiful, poignant and evocative. I loved reading this story by

Truman Capote.

This novella tells the story of an orphan boy who lives with his relatives

from a young age. He befriends a sister of the house and her servant. This

story is set in earlier times in small town America. The story fascinates with

its spitituality and beautiful descriptive writing. The script beckons it is so

wonderful and I would recommend this story.
There are also more wonderful stories by the same author included with the story of
The Grass Harp which I m now enjoying reading.    They certainly are different and I
have finished reading Master Misery, which is a story of a girl who sells her dreams.
I look forward to reading more stories by this compelling author.
Best wishes and Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Places of enduring beauty

Places of enduring beauty

Venice, St Mark's Square and the little canals, bridges, gondolas and ambience

of a beautiful city. The shining water and reflections, the magnificence of the

art and architecture and beautiful old churches and Doges Palace. A place I wish

to return to for its wonderful atmosphere and beauty. A trip to the colourful villages

of Murano and Burano where the glassblowers do their craft so well would also be nice

to revisit. It is awhile since I visited this beautiful and inspiring city.

St Sergiyev Monastery, Posad, Russia

Wonderful architecture of the trinity cathedral and bell tower.

Splendid! Memorising and so beautiful! Wonderful colours of blue and

white and magnificent domes in a peaceful and rural setting. I loved visiting this

place which is not far distant from Moscow.

River Seine, Paris

So beautiful and enchanting, by daylight and the setting sun.

A wonderful place to stroll along the banks of this mesmerising river

which winds its way through the city of Paris.

The Isle de la Cite is wonderful with the flower markets, the scents and


Beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral by the river setting is beautiful.

I love Paris.

The beautiful gardens of Versailles:

Not far from the Paris, the magnificence of the baroque era of the seventeenth

century is on show. The chateau of Louis XIV, the Hall of Mirrors, art works

and sculpture and magnificent salons. The views of the gardens are spectacular

in all of their wonder and glory.

Beautiful flowers, colours and fountains give a sense of wonder and beauty.

Geometrical patterns of the flower beds, the hornbeam, the hedges and groves

with pretty fountains and rock pools give an air of serenity, peace and tranquillity.

The baroque music of the era complements the fountain displays and gives a sense

of the seventeenth century during the time of Louis XIV in all of its splendour.

Tuileries Gardens, Paris

Beautiful in the spring time and summer with the magnificent varieties of colours

and flowers. The gardens are beautiful and peaceful.

Statues and fountains add charm and beauty.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

Wonderful in the autumn with the varying colours of the leaves. I often used to enjoy

wandering around the Luxembourg Gardens where I could sometimes purchase a waffle.

Paris is a magnificent place to be in autumn with the many tree lined boulevards

which make the city so attractive and the temperatures begin to cool with lovely

breezes along the banks of the River Seine.

More to follow at a later date.

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

I have recently viewed Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley

which I enjoyed. Jane Austen's timeless classic continues to enthrall and enrapture with a beautiful enduring love story set during an elegant time in England of an earlier century. Jane Austen wrote of the times which she knew and was familiar with.

Keira Knightley is a believable and strong-willed Elizabeth Bennett. I have seen previous versions where Elizabeth has appeared more animated and vivacious though I did like Keira Knighley's portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett in this production. Mr Darcy, played by Mathew Macfadyen seems

darkly brooding and moody initially, quite unlike the outgoing personality and aimable nature of his friend, Mr Bingley.

I enjoyed the romance of the film and the portrayal of England at this time, the social mores, customs and expectations placed on young women of this era.

Elizabeth is from the Bennett family of five sisters at a time when women were expected to marry to secure their futures. There are moments of humour and traces of sadness in the story.

Special features of the dvd include the life and times of Jane Austen and the stately homes of Pride and Prejudice including Burghley House, Wilton House and Chatsworth House.

A wonderful film to watch! Fascinating and enjoyable!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Pindar Diamond by Katie Hickman

This wonderful novel is set in early seventeenth century Venice.

The story is inspirational and a joy to read. This book follows on from

the exotic novel set in Old Constantinople, The Aviary Gate, in which

an English merchant's fiancee, Celia Lamprey, is captured on a sea voyage,

sold and taken to the Sultan's harem.

The Pindar Diamond is an extraordinary story. Paul Pindar is the English

merchant who mourns the loss of his true love and does not really know what

has happened to her.

Characters from the earlier novel come into play, as for example, Paul Pindar's

friend and servant, John Carew, Celia Lamprey's friend, Suor Annetta, who now

resides in a convent on the island of Guidecca on the Venice lagoon. Here there is beauty to be found in the inspirational nature paintings of one of the sisters and the magnificent gardens and orchard of the convent.

It is a beautiful story and I am reminded of shades of “Angelique in Love” by Anne

Golon in which Angelique had not seen her husband for many years. It is quite

compelling reading for the romance and sense of adventure in the story.

A troupe of tumblers and performers travels along the coast of Italy, their destination the “Serenissima”

the beautiful city of Venice set on the sea and the people who make up this group of itinerant

travellers seem other worldly but quite beautiful. Maryam, considered too tall and ugly proved

to be of the finest of qualities of human character.

The colourful descriptions of the settings in Venice make this story come alive with the sea and water reflections, the light and shadows. As the story progresses it also seems to be made of light

and shadows, the good and the bad.

A fascinating card game for the Sultan's blue, the diamond, the palazzos, the atmosphere, the beauty, the mists of Venice and the Angels' tears over the city when there is a light mist and falling rain which enhances the beauty of the story. It is a heady mix.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Kings' Mistresses by Elizabeth C Goldsmith

The Kings' Mistresses

The Liberated Lives of

Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, And

Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin

by Elizabeth C Goldsmith

The Kings' Mistresses by Elizabeth C Goldsmith is

a fascinating story of the lives of Marie Mancini and

her sister, Hortense, during the time of the seventeenth

century in Europe. As such , it gives a valuable insight into

of the history and politics of the time in France, Italy, Spain and England.

The author refers to correspondence and letters to tell a

compelling story of two sisters who decided to challenge

the expected norms of society of the time.

And what a story it is!

The stars of both these sisters shone brightly.

Brought to the court of France by their uncle, Cardinal Mazarin,

from Italy, they lived a privileged life and were feted by the court, enjoying

its many entertainments and activities.

Louis XIV wished to marry Marie Mancini. It is poignant that six days after his marriage to the Infanta of Spain, Marie- Therese, Louis XIV

wished to leave his travelling party at La Rochelle and pay a solitary visit to Brouage

where he had last seen Marie Mancini. Of course he would have known that Marie was

not there and Cardinal Mazarin was alarmed when he heard of this detour of the young

Louis XIV.

Anne of Austria and Cardinal Mazarin had done everything to try and separate

Marie Mancini and Louis XIV. Marie had been recaled to Paris by this time.

It is also poignant that Marie Mancini during all of her life retained a string of pearls

which the king had given her a year before his marriage to Marie-Therese.

Charles II of England had wished to marry Hortense, who was a bright spark, vivacious

and beautiful. Cardinal Mazarin did not wish for his niece to marry Charles II at the time

as he was a king without a throne. Charles II had been displaced by Oliver Cromwell and

it would be after many years of poverty and travelling in Europe before he would be restored

to the throne of England in 1660. Cardinal Mazarin raised the issue of his marriage

to Hortense at the time with Charles II but Charles II's ministers advised him to forget Hortense and have a

more ambitious marriage with Katherine of Braganza.

Cardinal Mazarin, being in ill health by 1661 was determined to arrange fortuitous marriages for his nieces

as he had arranged marriages for Laure Mancini, a sister of Marie and Hortense,

to Louis de Bourbon-Vendome, Duc de Mercoeur, and also the marriage of a cousin of Marie and Hortense, Anne-Marie Martinozzi to Armand de Bourbon -Conde, Prince de Conti.

The story of Marie's life in Rome is fascinating to read of the account of the arts, theatre, processions and general sociability of the times as she brought something new to Rome which

was not previously acceptable by the standards of the day. She did seem to have more freedom

than the Roman noblewoman of the time. Marie did a lot for the arts in Rome, building a theatre at the Colonna palazzo and also becoming involved with the carnival in Venice when she was married to Prince Colonna.

Marie was also the author of two books of astrology.

She was learned and cultured. Louis XIV had developed a love and passion for the Italian arts

and poetry from spending many hours in the company of Marie and also from the influences

of Cardinal Mazarin who had a fine art collection.

Hortense was married to Duc Mazarin in 1661.

The story culminates in the adventures of these two sisters who decided to live their lives


It is a poignant and stark tale but also has great merit describing the fascinating encounters

in London of Hortense and Saint-Evremond, who had been exiled many years previously by

Cardinal Mazarin. They became great friends and Saint-Evremond, knowing that Hortense

enjoyed romance novels would describe himself in his correspondence to her as the sad-faced knight and

Hortense would often sign herself to him as his “Dulcinea to Don Quixote” from Don Quixote.

Hortense hosted a salon of visiting artists writers and travellers to London which people enjoyed for the lively and interesting conversations.

This book is well recommended.

It is enjoyable and gives many insights into the seventeenth century modes of conduct, law and

outcomes. It gives the reader an understanding of the culture and attitudes of society of the time. The vibrant and engaging personalities of the sisters, their travels and adventures give a sense

of wonder to the book set in a time not so distant and yet so different from today.