I am hurrying toward a book deadline (Monday! Oh dear!), and so my visit to the ballroom today must necessarily be brief. On this, the penultimate + 1 day of 2012, I haven’t the courage to offer retrospective commentary on the past year or the presence of mind to even peek into the next. Instead I will offer today a taste of what I’ve been busy with during the past many months.
Castles and tiaras.
I am writing a series, you see, about a trio of beloved sisters searching for a prince. And since princes need castles and princesses need tiaras (really, don’t they?), I have been indulging. A lot.
So today I share with you lovelies one of each, my favorites from the positively arduous research I did this year visiting castles and trying on tiaras. (Work work work!)
Chenonceau graces not one but two banks of the gentle and beauteous River Cher. The Cher is south of the Loire River, which stretches across northern France and created a region that is home to many, many castles. I adore Chenonceau. To me it simply shouts fairytale! I love it so much I’ve set part of the book I’m writing in a fictional castle modeled after Chenonceau. How couldn’t I? Just look at it… graceful arches that dip into their mirror reflections, elegant lines, charming turrets, a gorgeous formal park that recedes into evergreen woods… Fairytale!
And in case good looks don’t suffice, Chenonceau has a scandalous history too. King Henri II gave it to his lover Diane de Poitiers, twenty years his senior and vibrantly beautiful and with a brain to make excellent use of that beauty. Years later when Henri died, his widow, Catherine de Medici, threw Diane out of the castle and proceeded to have fabulous parties there (can you blame her?), including balls and a faux naval battle staged on the river.
But royals weren’t the only denizens of Chenonceau. At one time the attic was converted into a convent for Capucin nuns, with a drawbridge between the floors to discourage nocturnal interminglings of holy ladies and immoral lords. Oo la! (Probably a good thing, too, considering at least one of the lords that visits my fictional Chenonceau.)
Now for the tiara…
I’m very fond of simple jewelry, and while a tiara can’t very well be considered that, precisely, I do like the modesty of this one. The description from the Christie’s site (where it’s up for a cool L25,000-L35,000, in case you were wondering what to get me for my next birthday) notes the ”stylised fleur-de-lys” design, which I particularly like as the hero of my book is half-French.
You may recall that hero, Lucien Andrew Rallis Westfall, the duke of Lycombe. You helped me invent him!
By the way, my new series is called The Prince Catchers. Luc’s book will be coming in September… probably… if I finish it this weekend!
If you could throw a New Year’s Eve party at a castle like Chenonceau, and could invite anyone, who would be on your invitation list?