Wednesday, January 18, 2017

3 Depictions of Louis XVI and Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

Three depictions of Louis XVI and the royal family meeting with Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, best known for his significant work towards gaining French acceptance of the potato as a safe and edible food source. Part of Parmentier's efforts included vying for the support of the royal family and in 1789, Parmentier's 'Treatise on the Culture and Use of the Potato, Sweet Potato, and Jerusalem Artichoke' was published with the approval of Louis XVI.

 A painting by Henri Gervex depicting Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette visiting Parmentier at his potato fields, 1904.

Parmentier presenting a bouquet of potato flowers to Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. 1901 Petit Journal illustration.

Parmentier presenting the potato to the royal family by Albert Chereau. Unknown date.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Recent and Upcoming Book Releases

Recent Releases in Non-Fiction

Marie Antoinette's Darkest Days: Prisoner No. 280 in the Conciergerie by Will Bashor [December 2016]

An examination of the last months of Marie Antoinette, prisoner of the Conciergerie, as told through eyewitness accounts and other records of the queen's final weeks.

Upcoming Non-Fiction Releases

Marie Antoinette’s Confidante: The Rise and Fall of the Princesse de Lamballe by Geri Walton [February 2017] 

A new biography of the princesse de Lamballe, confidant of Marie Antoinette whose closeness to the queen of France would lead to her eventual death as a victim of the September Massacres. 

Versailles by Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel [March 2017]

An extensive volume detailing the history of Versailles from its early days as a royal hunting lodge to its present existence as a national treasure, complemented by 500 paintings, photographs, prints, and other illustrations.  

How the French Saved America: Soldiers, Sailors, Diplomats, Louis XVI, and the Success of a Revolution by Tom Shactman [September 2017]

No official synopsis available yet, but I think the title is pretty self explanatory! 

Upcoming Fiction Releases

The Enemies of Versailles: A Novel by Sally Christie [March 2017]

The final installment of Christie's 'Mistresses of Versailles' trilogy tells the story of Madame du Barry's rise and fall at the court of Versailles, as the winds of revolution draw ever closer to the inhabitants of Europe's most opulent palace.

The Wardrobe Mistress: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Meghan Masterson [June 2017]

Set in before and during the French Revolution, 'The Wardrobe Mistress' is centered around a young woman named Giselle Aubry, who becomes a trusted servant of Marie Antoinette and finds herself wound up in events that will test where her true loyalty lies.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A painting of Versailles by Pierre Boudet (1915-2011)

A painting of the gardens of Versailles by Pierre Boudet (1915-2011). Unknown date.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: The Sylphe

Today's Book: The Sylphe

Title: The Sylph

Author: Georgiana Cavendish (1757-1806)

Publication: The book was originally published anonymously under the title "The Young Lady" in 1778. The edition in Marie Antoinette's library is a French translation from 1784.

Notes: Told through letters, 'The Sylphe' is the story of a young woman named Julia Grenville, who marries an older, wealthy aristocrat and quickly finds herself disillusioned with her husband and her new life in high society. The novel was written by Georgiana Cavendish, the duchess of Devonshire, and there are many parallels between Julia in the novel and the real Georgiana. Regency History offers some insight into some of the more notable parallels.

Where you can read it: The 1779 English edition can be read at Project Gutenburg. The 1784 French translation is available at Google Books.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: The History of Charlotte Summers, the Fortunate Parish Girl

Today's Book: The History of Charlotte Summers, the Fortunate Parish Girl

Title: The History of Charlotte Summers, the Fortunate Parish Girl (French title: L'Orpheline angloise, ou Histoire de Charlotte Summers.)

Author: Anonymous.

Publication: The book was originally published in English in 1750, and translated into French the next year. The edition in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1781.

Notes: Tells the story of an orphaned girl named Charlotte Summers who is adopted by the generous Lady Bountiful, and finds her former hard knock life as an orphan turned around by her newfound family, newfound wealth and of course, her good nature--but not without some misadventures, of course!

The author of the novel is unknown. 'Charlotte Summers' is the first known imitation of Henry Fielding's popular novel Tom Jones, which may be why his sister Sarah Fielding was suspected of being the author. However, there is no definitive evidence proving Sarah Fielding was the true author.

Where you can read it: Available in English from Google Books: Volume I and Volume II

Monday, November 7, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: The Man of Feeling

Today's Book: The Man of Feeling

Title: The Man of Feeling (French title: L'homme et la femme sensibles]

Author: Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831)

Publication: Originally published in 1771 anonymously. The French edition in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1775.

Notes: A fragmentary sentimental novel which details the life of a man named Harley who--being a 'man of feeling'--finds himself listening to the sad tales of those around them and doing what he can to alleviate their pain. His story is told through a series of vignettes in an incomplete manuscript with (contrived) missing chapters and pages, and is part of an overarching narrative which involves the manuscript of Harley's life being traded into the hands of a narrator.

The book was fairly well received in its day, but by the 19th century had become--like many other novels in the sentimentalism genre--a subject of ridicule. The 1886 edition of The Man of Feeling include an "Index of Tears," ('Chokings, &c., not counted') listing all of the times characters in the novel cry. The editor of this edition sarcastically notes: “The Man of Feeling” begins with imitation of Sterne, and proceeds in due course through so many tears that it is hardly to be called a dry book.  As guide to persons of a calculating disposition who may read these pages I append an index to the Tears shed in “The Man of Feeling.”

In his 2009 edition of the novel, Brian Vickers noted that by this time the "repertory of sentimental effects ... has become a repertory of mirthful effects, perhaps to be read aloud in the Victorian parlour to an audience only needing to hear these categories of tears in order to trigger a rather different response."

Where you can read it: The 1886 English edition can be read at Project Gutenburg.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

From the Library of Marie Antoinette: Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World

Today's Book: Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World

Title: Evelina, or The History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World (French Title: Evelina)

Author: Frances Burney (1754-1840)

Publication: First published in English in 1778; the 3 volume set in Marie Antoinette's library is from 1780.


The novel tells the story of Evelina, the legitimate but unacknowledged daughter of an English aristocrat who has been raised in seclusion until her 17th birthday because of her father's refusal to acknowledge her. Evelina travels to London but finds herself the source of ridicule when she makes amusing but thoroughly embarrassing social mistakes in front of her peers. As she struggles to come into her own while facing the trials and tribulations of London society, she meets a serious of both new and familiar faces who may help or hinder her on her way to a happy life.

The book was originally published anonymously by Burney due to the potential for backlash if she openly acknowledged her authorship. Burney went to great lengths to keep her authorship a secret from the general public, even going so far as to use fake identities and having her brother go in disguise to sign the publishing contract. It was a "private secret" among Burney's circle that she had written Evelina, but it was not until George Huddesford named her as the author in a footnote of a single line in his work 'Warley, a Satire' ("Or gain approbation from dear little Burney*? [* The Authoress of Evelina.]") that her name was publicly connected with the book. Whether Huddesford knowingly revealed the secret out of malice or simply breached etiquette without realizing it, Burney was not pleased--she referred to his work as a "vile poem" in a letter.

Where you can read it: You can read the original English edition on Project Gutenburg.