Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Day for Giveaway: Pope Joan!!!

Today is the last day of Pope Joan Week here on Enchanted by Josephine. It's also, officially the last day for the Giveaway.

To enter the Pope Joan Giveaway of this fabulous author autographed-with-inscription-read; this is what you have to do:

1 chance: Post your comment and leave me your email address
2 chances: Become a follower and let me know (if you already follow, you automatically get this
**Get an EXTRA CHANCE for every day of this week you come by and leave me your comment.

AND- Because it's the last day to enter...

for 5 EXTRA CHANCES...if you Blog or Twitter about this giveaway (and let me know)!!

Contest closes today.

Today is also the last day for the Red Carpet Event. For last minute details see here.

I want to Thank Everyone who participated, for making this a fantastic week! I want to especially Thank Donna Woolfolk Cross for writing this extraordinary book and for contributing as guest with her most enlightening post for Enchanted by Josephine.


Winner will be announced this weekend:)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Au Salon de Josephine: Different...but Alike

On Today's Salon de Josephine, please join me with your thoughts...

So, here we have an Empress of the 18th century, a woman Pope of the 9th century, and a Venetian Courtesan of the 16th century. Can you imagine the three of these ladies having anything in common with eachother?

Empress Josephine

Pope Joan

Venetian poet and Courtesan, Veronica Franco

Imagine the three of them meeting for a chat somewhere where none of them would feel out of place. Let’s make it a Royal Court- the three of them would certainly feel right at home in this type of place. Now, what could they possibly talk about-having perhaps not very much in common…or is that really so?

Initially, their differences are obvious. And although, each would no doubt have moral cause to despise one or both of the others …I’m of the opinion that somewhere in their conversation they would find more in common than first appearances would seem to reveal.

…hmm…Let’s see.

All three women have had to live amongst men who were, for the most part, larger than life in comparison to them.

All three have had to dim or suppress their feelings for some greater cause. Whether by choice, or not, they have all gone through inner suffering and the foregoing of love at some point in their lives.

Whether it was for personal or business advancement, intellectual freedom, or to secure the future of children- all three women never ceased to work towards their own goal. Determination and strength to carry through is common in all three of these women.

And what about their appearance and demeanor? All three have used some sort of ‘attire’ as a tool to their advantage. Clearly, camouflage first comes to mind; for advancement and accomplishment, attraction (or minimizing of) and symbolism and ascension.

These three women are also known for having been famous in their own right- as well as, much loved and admired. And still today, they are remembered as icons.

All three women loved deeply and would have preferred a different ending to their story. Sadly, theirs ends with grief, loneliness, regrets and sorrow– perhaps wishing they could have re-written their last chapter.

Women of strength, women of substance, women for others…

Sometimes complete opposites are often very much alike.

Your thoughts?


I think its worthy to include this post in the Women Unbound Challenge Series because of the particular strengths of these women.  All three of them have faced and survived challenges that only their belief in self, their strength against all odds, and the direct consequence of their actions and being,  propelled them into women of great substance.  All three elevated themselves into the highest ranks- by their own intelligence, understanding of human nature and all of its oppositions.  All three withstood the test of time as they are still referred to as icons of history- unbound and reaching incredible status- something unimaginable in those times.

-The Giveaway Continues...


To enter the Pope Joan Giveaway of this fabulous author autographed-with-inscription-read; this is what you have to do:

1 chance: Post your comment and leave me your email address
2 chances: Become a follower and let me know (if you already follow, you automatically get this
**Get an EXTRA CHANCE for every day of this week you come by and leave me your comment.

For the Red Carpet Event which ends TOMORROW see here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross

Day 3 of Pope Joan Week...

Where do I begin? Besides the fact that I loved this book, I can also say in all honesty that I cannot compare it to anything I’ve ever read before. Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross, is a story of great magnitude- in a class of its own.

First of all, imagine yourself sitting back- not reading- but watching as vivid moments of a tale come forth, rolling like a movie engulfing you into the actual moment. This book is loaded with historical rawness of the times-the 9th century. You’d think you’re living through an epic; one that’s filled with battles, ascensions, spirituality, supreme clerics, warriors, leaders, heroes- men of grandeur, worth, knowledge and power…

So, if you’re already picturing yourself glued to your favourite all time panoramic historical motion picture, where the center of the story evolves through the eyes of the hero and think you’ve been here before…Think again. This is different. In this enormous production, the hero this time is a woman…a pope…in a world where women meant nothing…

Joan, at a very young age, was a bright and curious young child with the thirst for knowledge and the ability to absorb it all naturally, and with incredible ease. Alas, her major downfall was having been born a girl in a time when it was dreadfully sinful for her to indulge in what was the sole privelege and realm of men. Being born in the wrong time and of the wrong gender would be Joan’s initiation to her destiny.

Forced to adapt to a man’s world, Joan dressed as one and became known as John in order to survive and excel at her extraordinary competencies as student, intellectual,monk, healer, spiritual advisor, and eventually- pope. Joan sacrificed everything. If her true identity were ever discovered, it would mean automatic death for her…She was ready to face this challenge, having understood with certainty that the perils of living as a woman were far more dangerous in every aspect. Torn between her quest for knowledge and her denial of self, she opted for the first.

The book takes you through the life of this courageous woman who struggled relentlessly to reach her greatest potential. But don’t think that because Joan elevated herself to equal, or superior status, that she ever forgot that she was a woman…aware of all her senses…

The book presents facets of Joan’s life that depict extreme scenes involving her father and even deeper issues concerning her mother. Her parents, her brothers, cardinals, popes, learned men, scornful teachers, caring monks…and a great forbidden love- each playing an important role causal to the creation of Joan’s fate.

Pope Joan is a novel that captivates to the core by immersing you into Joan’s brilliant thoughts, vivid senses, reaching her inner voice that demanded to be heard. I felt myself cheering and caring deeply for this woman whose mind, body, heart and soul never rested. I wanted her to fulfill all her dreams, which she almost did- but not without devastating consequences.

Although this is a heavy book, it surprisingly moves at a relatively quick pace. The scenes are brilliantly spaced and the evolvements of events naturally flow onto the next. Not only is Pope Joan filled with suspense, in-depth characters, struggles and elations, passion and sorrow; it is an incredibly moving read. Truly sensational!

And...If you're wondering, 'Was There A Pope Joan?'...An interesting Author's Note at the end of the book will help you reach your own conclusion...

For book club interest, there's a great Reading Guide too.


To enter the Pope Joan Giveaway of this fabulous author autographed-with-inscription-read; this is what you have to do:

1 chance: Post your comment and leave me your email address
2 chances: Become a follower and let me know (if you already follow, you automatically get this
**Get an EXTRA CHANCE for every day of this week you come by and leave me your comment.

For another raving review on Pope Joan, see Sheila DeChantal's post here.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

DAY 2 of Pope Joan Week: Giveaway, Author Guest Post...

Hello Everyone. Today, I’m delighted to have Donna Woolfolk Cross, author of the fantastic novel: Pope Joan, to grace us with her presence here at Enchanted by Josephine.

And now please welcome Donna Woolfolk Cross with her insight on Misogyny.

My novel Pope Joan is set in the ninth century--an especially difficult time in which to live. One contemporary chronicler called it "a sword age, a wind age, a wolf age". And as is so often the case when times are hard, they were hardest of all on women. From pulpits all over Europe, women were denounced with anti-female diatribes like the following:

"And do you not know that you are Eve--the gate of the devil, the traitor of the tree, the first deserter of Divine Law...on account of the death you deserved, even the Son of God had to die."

You can see where women might have had a bit of trouble with "self-esteem" in the ninth century!

Back then menstrual blood was believed to make crops barren, to blunt warrior's swords, to infect dog bites with an incurable poison. Women were not allowed in Church for thirty days after they had given birth, for they were considered to be "unclean". Make that sixty days if the child they birthed was a girl! Rape was considered a form of minor theft. By law, women could be beaten by their men; the only law on the books was one regulating the size of the club that their husband or father could use. Above all, learning in women was discouraged, for a learned woman was considered to be "unnatural".

One theory of the day was that the size of a woman's brain and of her uterus were inversely proportional--that is, the more a woman learned, the less likely she would ever bear children. (and if only that were true, wouldn't birth control be a snap? You don't want to have a baby--read a book!).

Joan's triumph over these obstacles is truly inspirational, as I often hear from readers in countries less fortunate than ours. Though Joan's story is a very ancient one, it is strangely new--and deeply relevant to the world we live in today. Many of you will have heard about the brave young Afgani girls who loved learning (as Joan did) and kept going to school despite warnings to stay away. One day, while on their way to school, acid was thrown in their faces, permanently disfiguring (and in one case, half-blinding) them. This was their punishment for the "crime" of wanting to learn. In an act of raw human courage, these young girls (no more than 12-14 years old) have continued to attend school. The spirit of Pope Joan lives on in such brave young women!

The newly released Three Rivers Press edition of my novel has a list of "Best of the Best" reading group questions in the back, garnered from my many years of chatting by speakphone with book groups (to find out how to set up such a conversation, go to

One of my favorites is this:
7. What causes any society to oppress womankind? What are the root causes of misogyny? Are they based in religion or in society? Both? Neither?
This leads to a lot of lively discussion, believe me! And don't look to me for the answers, for I don't have them. I do know that it's important to raise such questions and to consider them--for the veneer of civilization is very thinly applied; scratch it only a little, and all kinds of human barbarism emerges. We should never make the mistake of thinking that "the bad old days" can never come again!

Thanks so much Donna for this most interesting post.

To enter the Pope Joan Giveaway of this fabulous author autographed-with-inscription-read; this is what you have to do:

1 chance: Post your comment and leave me your email address
2 chances:
Become a follower and let me know (if you already follow, you automatically get this
**Get an EXTRA CHANCE for every day of this week you come by and leave me your comment.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Moments: Giveaway, Guest Post, Review, Discussion- It’s POPE JOAN WEEK!

Happy Monday everybody! I just finished reading Pope Joan, by Donna Woolfolk Cross- and I guess you’ll find it no surprise if I say: I loved it!!!

Well, this week there’ll be plenty of time to share that with you…

I’d love for you to come by everyday this week for something Pope Joan related.

Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday: Guest Post by Donna Woolfolk Cross- the lady herself will grace us with her presence here at Enchanted by Josephine! She’ll be by to share some incredible insights on women of the dark ages. I just know you’ll be intrigued. Come by and leave a comment- I’m sure she’ll be pleased.

Wednesday: My review of Pope Joan. Come read what I really think…

Thursday: Le Salon de Josephine presents:
Your thoughts and mine on the connection between Popes, Courtesans, and Empresses…What might they have in common…something to do with red?

Friday: Last day for Pope Joan Giveaway!!!!
The lucky winner gets to receive one copy of this precious book:) And get this- Donna will autograph it with a personal inscription for the winner--or for anyone you wish to "gift" it to for a special occasion.

To enter the giveaway for this fabulous read- this is what you have to do:

1 chance:
Post your comment and leave me your email address
2 chances: Become a follower and let me know (if you already follow, you automatically get this
**Get an EXTRA CHANCE for every day of this week you come by and leave me your comment.

I’m so excited about this Pope Joan Week! Hope you’ll drop by for a great chat:)

And- Don’t forget about that RED CARPET EVENT…Time is running out- Deadline July 31st.

See ya tomorrow!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Le Salon de Josephine: Les Incroyables et Merveilleuses...

Bonjour! Here's a continuation of Theresa Cabarrus and Josephine…

It’s no surprise that Josephine is often referred to as a fashion icon. Josephine and her friends, especially Theresa, were long known for wearing the latest fashions and setting new trends. And, although there was a certain regality and poise about Josephine that was ever present, even before her becoming Empress…Ever wonder, how it became that she was also known as a ‘Merveilleuse’?

‘Les Incroyables et Merveilleuses’, was the name given to followers of a fashion movement that evolved in consequence of the period of ‘Terreur.’ It encompassed not only a fashion statement, but a political one as well. At its extreme, the trend went as far as people altering their speech…

Les Incroyables imposed a new dress fashion and distinct hairstyles that often involved having one’s hair shaven or pulled back at the nape to resemble and commemorate those who had been condemned to death. It was not uncommon for many of these fashionable ones to walk around with a knotted sort of club that they would use to thrash any Jacobins-type passer-bys. So fanatically pushed were these Incroyables that they also altered their pronunciation; to reflect their total aversion to the Revolution that they actually omitted all ‘r’ sounds from their speech. Les ‘Incroyables’ was therefore pronounced : ‘Inc oyables’- complete conversations were had in this newly developed jargon.

After having been imprisoned, but before meeting Napoleon, Josephine and her friend Theresa were often called, Les Merveilleuses (the Marvelous ones). The fashion style of Les Merveilleuses called for less rigidity than that of Les Incroyables. These trend setters dressed with the more flowing Greco-Romano style of muslin and light fabric tunics; every style bearing different names such as, the Minerva, the Diana, La Fore…their sandals lacing up their ankles with ribbons or pearled strings. The queen of this fashion, Theresa herself, loved wearing expensive jeweled rings on her toes and bangle-bracelets on her calves. Hair was then worn short and curly resembling those of ancient Romans.

Many of these Merveilleuses indulged in being the center of attention and stopped at nothing to get themselves noticed. Many were known to stroll with poise and confidence through public gardens and parks wearing the sheerest and most audaciously transparent of dresses. Consequently, this scandalized the regular folk and an awful stigma of indecency and frivolity followed these fashionistas to their dismay…Theresa though, was seemingly unperturbed and refused to conform.

Fortunately for her, Theresa’s style was anything but cramped in the salons she often visited. She was a prominent guest at Barras salon; a man who also enjoyed extravagances and worldly pleasures.

Of all the unlikely places, it was in this very salon that the young and seemingly inexperienced Bonaparte was introduced to Josephine. And, even though our favorite lady was by no means as extreme or outrageously overt as Theresa, it was of no coincidence that Bonaparte later forbid Josephine to keep any contact with Theresa. The Emperor did not want his wife to be remembered as having had any associations with a lady, in his opinion, of such shady reputation…

Here is a caricature of Barras and two dancing women (probably in his salon), by James Gillray (1805)

Picture sources:,_vicomte_de_Barras


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Book Review: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

This is my first read for the Everything Austen Challenge. I picked it because it was Austen’s earliest major work and I had never read it before. It kind of gave me a glimpse of Austen’s earlier writing style and her perceptions of the times.

The heroine in this novel is Catherine Morland, who is just an average girl with straightforward manners and not an ounce of pretension; yet, she has an outrageously vivid imagination. This is cleverly and Austen-intended, I believe, to purposely deviate from the conventional heroines of the times.

The story begins with Catherine joining a friend of the family, Mrs. Allen, for a vacation at her home in Bath. Her days are filled with socializing, taking walks and especially spending time at the ‘Pump- room’, where she meets the rather hard-edged Henry Tilney. Catherine’s simple, yet direct and opinionated responses and approaches in conversation lead her to distancing Henry for a while.

Realizing that she has feelings for him, Catherine begins to wish she could see Henry again and does everything possible for that to happen. Meanwhile she befriends Isabella Thorpe who shares her passion for books and poetry. As the two become inseparable, Catherine feels close enough to Isabella to tell her all about her feelings for Henry Tilney…

In fulfilling her dreams of being with Henry, Catherine’s journey evolves through a fiasco of events revealing true personalities, feelings and deceptions. Other important characters that help bring this about involve John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother, who is full of mischief and schemes. As well, Catherine’s brother James, is one who has a love-story of his own to mourn over as his sister begins to put all pieces of the puzzle together. Just to add to life’s intricacies, Henry and Catherine become at odds about a dilemma, caused mainly by Catherine’s imagination. The couple’s difficulties do not stop there as problems get compounded by family misunderstandings.

Confusion of events? You bet. This story is filled with the ups-and downs of young love, anxious situations and very comical moments. Catherine was a girl before her times, which makes situations heartening as well as endearing and perfectly understandable. I gasped, laughed and truly enjoyed this Jane Austen novel. It’s the perfect introduction to the author’s subsequent masterpieces.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BOOK REVIEWS from Sophia's Corner: History Picks for Children

Here is a list of reviews for children's historicals by both Lucy and Sophia.
Sophia gives the book its final 'castle' grading, plus a short summary and opinion.
Read on:

1. Alice In Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

2. The RAUCOUS ROYALS, by Carlyn Beccia here AND: HERE

3.  Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

If you'd like to read the interview that Sophia and I did for the Book Chook Site, please go to:


Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Moments: Change of Pace and Diversion…

How does a girl move from courtesans to clergy?…Easy if you’re a book junkie. I hadn’t even finished In The Company of The Courtesan (see review), that I was already into Pope Joan. As quickly as I jumped from one book to the other, that’s how quickly my allegiance changed. (All you historical fiction bloggers can totally relate, I'm sure:)

I’ve decided that it all comes down to one thing for me; I just love reading everything about the different facets of historical women’s lives. For me, there’s always a connection amongst these women- no matter how different their lives or views might be: Strength is the key element- whether it be in love, spirituality, governance, principles or basic personality-their individual determination is what keeps me wanting to read more about these women of the past.

So, right now I’m glued to Pope Joan. I’m almost done reading and will have my review up shortly after that. For some of you who haven’t gone to check out the Red Carpet Event yet; you need to do so before July 31st- don’t miss this fantastic chance!

And here’s something I’m really excited about: February’s love month release: O, Juliet! This upcoming book by Robin Maxwell should be the perfect Valentine read. I am soo looking forward to this one…especially since I spent my childhood summers playing in those very castle grounds…ahhh! Can’t wait to read O, Juliet! For now, here’s the cover artwork and the back cover copy.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Review: In The Company of The Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant

Anyone who is fascinated by Venice (and who isn't?) will absolutely love In The Company of The Courtesan. Obviously, that’s not all that the book’s about (I’ll get to that in a moment…), yet; this important aspect cannot be mentioned lightly. The vivid details of the setting naturally propel you right into the moment. Depictions of the world as it was then, with Venice at its center; the glory, the fame, the beauty and all that was decadent as well- set the stage for an incredibly absorbing read…just the right setting for the story of a wondrous courtesan…

The story begins with Fiammetta Bianchini, a courtesan of the highest rank, servicing in the papal courts of Rome, having to flee when the city becomes invaded, and later destroyed, by Spaniard barbarians and German Lutherans. Barely surviving the barbaric scalpel and in order to avoid a torturous death, Faimmetta feigns a religious conversion in order to appease and distract the zealous fanatics. Together with her companion and business partner, a dwarf named Bucino, Fiammetta manages to escape and make way to her native Venice to start up her career fresh from scratch- Not an easy task…

A disheveled Fiammetta arrives in Venice looking scraggly, beaten, unfed, and besides being poor, famished and sick; she is an ‘unknown.’ How can she ever reclaim her notoriety as the most beautiful, learned, sensual and classiest courtesan in town? Both Fiammetta and her side-kick/manager/entertainer and man-à tout faire, Bucino, have a lot of work to do.

The story, told by Bucino, magically unravels as it takes you from one strange character to another; one more flamboyant than the next. A mysterious woman, with a strange deformity and extraordinary healing powers, named La Draga, enraptures both Fiammetta and Bucino into a web of intricacies that lead to fascinating consequences. There is definitely an element of mystery mixed with a clear sense of curiosity that keeps you edging on for more.

I absolutely loved reading about these colourful characters and their different lifestyles- and couldn’t help but totally adore Fiammetta. Bucino too, this engaging, sharp little man who stopped at nothing to ensure the best for ‘his Lady’ while taking care of business as a priority, was endearing to no end. Everything seemed so real. For all I know, this story could have actually happened. After all, Sarah Dunant includes real historical figures such as the famous painter Titian; Arletino the ‘reporter’ of the time- and, La Draga was an actual person as well.

As for Fiammetta, in this novel she was also Titian’s preferred goddess to paint, perfectly insinuating his authentic painting of The Venus of Urbino…where the model was said to be indeed a courtesan. Although she is but a fictional character, In The Company of The Courtesan will leave you wishing that Fiammetta really did exist… knack for business, flamboyance, joviality, free spirit, and all.

A truly delightful read. Loved it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's Teaser Tuesday!

is hosted by ShouldBeReading and asks you to:
♠Grab your current read.
♠Let the book fall open to a random page.
♠Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page.
♠You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
♠Please avoid spoilers!

Well, if you've been following my latest read, you'll know that my Teaser Tuesday sentences for today come from:

Pope Joan, page 258

'"I was born into poverty and am accustomed to it. As for chastity" -she kept her voice free of any tinge of irony- "I have always resisted the temptations of women."'

Quick Reminder: If/when you purchase this book, be sure to check out the Red Carpet Event!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Red Carpet Alert!

Anyone up for a stroll down the Red Carpet for a very special event? That could actually happen…all you have to do is purchase Donna Woolfolk Cross’ book: Pope Joan and you just might be that lucky person! Can you imagine?!

For details on how to enter for this one–of-a-kind special event, just go check out this site:

And if you’re wondering about the book…I started Pope Joan the other day and so far, it’s an amazing read. I’ll keep you updated on this one for sure. And-I’ll post an excerpt on my next Teaser Tuesday (just to keep you in suspense!)

But for now…Go Check Out The Site!The deadline is coming up soon – July 31st- Time is running out!!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Book Review: NEFERTITI, by Michelle Moran

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran brilliantly succeeds in delivering historical facts, exquisite detail and fascinating insight into the unraveling life of the timeless and dazzling ruler, Nefertiti. The author ingeniously uses Nefertiti’s closest relation, her sister Mutnodgmet, to describe the Egyptian Queen’s life of acclaimed power and reign. This effectively gives us a close-up of Nefertiti’s character in order to help us understand her personal reasoning and motives, all the while remaining true to the perception of others as well.

The regal and stunningly beautiful Nefertiti, used strategically clever ways, to sway and pacify one of Egypt’s worst rulers, her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaten. This heretic ruler was known for his self-righteousness need to conquer all in his attempt to be revered and immortalized as a god. The results led to the total destruction of an empire he forcefully created despite opposition from the people.

While one of Nefertities major roles included placating the ruthless Pharaoh in order to curb his senseless agenda, she astutely paved her way to becoming Egypt’s favourite Queen of the times; both as ruler of the land, as well as, beloved queen of the people. By ensuring her daughters’ rank equal that of Pharaoh’s son (from his secondary wife), Nefertiti set a precedent ensuing a series of changes that would forever revolutionize the perception and status of women as rulers. Ultimately, Nefertiti managed to equal and even surpass Pharaoh in the most unbelievable way…

Nefertiti’s ruling, initially from the sidelines, helped keep Egypt safe, strong and secure from possible dangers and threatening of bordering lands. Consequently, her role was instrumental in creating a position for herself that commanded respect and reverence. Nefertiti made sure that she was the center of attention at all times; it was Nefertiti’s world. This borderline egotistic behaviour was often quite overwhelming for her sister…sadly resulting in Mutnodgmet suffering a major blow that nearly separated the two sisters for life- altering their relationship to a different level.

For me, what made the story most interesting was precisely the way Mutnodgmet depicts Nefertiti throughout the book. Yes, the Queen was inevitably supreme in most ways…Yet; Mutnodgmet also allows us to see the real Nefertiti, the way she actually was with others- especially her family. Her achievements could not have been attained without the moral and continued support she received from her loved ones, including Mutnodgmet who tended to her every need. Guided by her father, Nefertiti remained focused on keeping the Pharaoh on track in order to minimize the damage he continued to generate.

Nefertiti’s unbelievable energy and commitment to secure her family’s position was relentless. Nothing could ever slow her down. For example, it was not unusual for Nefertiti, to immediately rise from her birthing bed to attend a feast, event or even a chariot ride if she deemed it necessary. As well, she went through incredible measures to maintain Pharaoh’s loyalty, devotion and priority towards her and her children rendering his other offspring and wife almost irrelevant.

I enjoyed reading about this strong-willed woman who used her, intelligence, guts charms and beauty to keep an empire thriving. Nefertiti used every gift she possessed to advance herself to an ultimate and never-before attainable position- unimaginable and impossible even by today’s standards…

Nefertiti is a superb story! It’s a magnetic read that kept me glued from page to page. There isn’t a dull moment in this book. Not only did I plunge into Egyptian history and its different gods, rulers, customs, traditions, architecture, I also learned about the fascinating world of herbs (cures for diseases, conditions and even how to avoid affliction of the plague-Mutnodgmet being the true expert on all of this). But ultimately, it was the palpable characters bursting with emotion, voice and true- to- life detail that totally captured my attention while transporting me into this mesmerizing world of the past.

I highly recommend Nefertiti. It’s an unforgettable read- I promise.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Le Salon de Joséphine…

Welcome to Josephine’s salon…

I thought that since we are getting to know Josephine on a more personal level as time goes on, it would only be fair to start introducing some of her friends as well…

Beginning with the very interesting, Theresa Cabarrus

Theresa Cabarrus was one lively lady. She was born in Spain from a somewhat well-to-do family; her father having been given the title of count by King Charles IV of Spain.

As a young child Theresa was educated by nuns, in France and then, when she was not yet fifteen, was married off to a Marquis de Fontenay; a short ugly ,but very powerful man. Due to his aristocracy and high position, he was well known in the Court of Louis XVI, where he and Theresa often visited. Theresa, whose exuberant character needed much more excitement than Fontenay could ever provide was still looking for more adventure since she was presumably bored and had had it with her relationship.

But, life changes- and, when the Revolution broke out, Fontenay fled and Theresa, having had enough of him anyway, got a divorce. Her freedom didn’t last long (literally)- she was soon taken to prison for having been married to an aristocrat. This is when she caught the eye of another influential gent named, Jean Lambert Tallien- Commissaire de la Convention National- to make a long story short- he saved her from the guillotine- that in itself must have given her reason for strong attraction…and so, she became his mistress. Though, it was not all glamour and high life; Theresa may have appeared as flimsy, but in reality, through the influence of Tallien, she became most instrumental in releasing many prisoners who would have met their terrible fate by the guillotine.

So when does Josephine come in to the picture?

Theresa was once again imprisoned when she accompanied Tallien back to Paris and that’s when Robespierre cast her there and then transferred her to Carmes…That’s where she met Josephine. Tallien once again got Theresa out- from then, soon followed the release of Josephine. Due to Theresa’s efforts and achievements in having prisoners released she was awarded the title Notre- Dame de Thermidor.

Although her love story with Tallien would lead to marriage…the couple had one daughter and divorced a few years later. Theresa went on to live a very exotic lifestyle, taking on many lovers. Throughout her life, she gave birth to ten children from these numerous amoureux. In the end, she would attempt to regain her reputation by marrying Francois-Joseph-Philippe de Riquet, Count of Caraman, 16th Prince of Chimay. Theresa would hold somewhat of a Court where she and her husband invited many illustrious guests, including musicians, such as Luigi Cherubini and Maria Malibran.

She died in Chimay in 1835 at the age of 62.

More on Theresa and Josephine to follow…

Friday, July 3, 2009

Just Couldn't Resist...Everything Austen Challenge

The Everything Austen Challenge is being hosted by Stephanie from Stephanie's Written Word. It will run for six months (July 1, 2009 – January 1, 2010)!

Another Challenge? How can I possibly keep up with all this reading?!

Like Jenny of Jenny Loves To Read, I’ve seen this challenge on many of my favourite blogs…I just couldn’t resist!

The details! The Everything Austen Challenge will run for six months (July 1, 2009 – January 1, 2010)! All you need to do is pick out what six Austen-themed things you want to finish to complete the challenge.’

On to my picks:

Northanger Abbey

Lady Susan

Sense and Sensibility

The Watsons



(I just might throw this extra one just for the fun: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen:)

Will you join?