french history


Marie Antoinette: An Intimate History

I’m so sorry about taking a month off from my blog but I hope you’ll all forgive me when I reveal that the reason for my absence was a brand new book about Marie Antoinette, based on decades of pretty obsessive research (both primary and secondary) and thoughts and questions from all of you. A couple of years ago I threatened my poor, unfortunate blog readers with a light hearted ‘pulp’ biography of Marie Antoinette, which at the time I intended to call ‘Teen Queen to Madame Guillotine’. However, other projects intervened and my plan was temporarily shelved as I […]


Joséphine crowned, 2nd December 1804

Sunday, the second of December 1804 was the coldest day of the year, with snow overnight and freezing rain the next morning, which turned the streets of Paris to slush. Spirits in the French capital were still high though for it was the much anticipated day of Napoléon’s coronation at the hands of Pope Pius VII himself, who had been inveigled by Bonaparte to take part. Not even the Bourbon kings of France had been crowned by the Pope so this was quite a coup for Napoléon, who was keen to increase his prestige among the other crowned heads of […]


Marie de Guise

Marie de Guise, Corneille de Lyon, c1537. Photo: National Galleries of Scotland. It’s probably no secret that my next novel, The Thistle Queen will be about Marie de Guise, the mother of Mary, Queen of Scots. I actually set out to write about Mary but then found myself pushing the start of the book further and further back so that there was more from her fascinating mother’s point of view, until finally I realised that actually I should be writing about Marie instead and shelving the Mary project until a later date. I’m really enjoying writing about Marie, who is, […]


Marie Mancini and Louis XIV

Portrait of three of the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin portrayed as goddesses, Venus, Juno and Diana, unknown artist. Photo: Musee de la Ville de Paris, Musee du Petit-Palais, France. One of my favourite characters while writing my seventeenth century novel Minette was the amazing Marie Mancini – she just seemed to light up every single scene that she deigned to appear in and made a perfect foil for my rather naive heroine. In fact, I was so enamoured with Marie and indeed her entire bevy of ridiculously drama queeny sisters that I may just have to give them their own […]