paris


Marianne and France

One of my definite highlights from last year was finally seeing inside Windsor Castle – however, although I very much enjoyed poking around the gloriously opulent state rooms, my favourite bit was having a good old look at Queen Mary’s Dolls House, which is on permanent display in the castle and is a beautiful masterpiece of miniature art. However, rather ignored by the castle’s visitors, there are two other examples of amazing miniature art close by in the metre high persons of pretty blonde France and charming brunette Marianne, the two lovely dolls presented by the children of France to […]


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 […]


Minette promo

My poor little mother was on the run from Parliament’s forces when I was born. Sickly, exhausted, frantic about the fate of her husband and other children and massively pregnant, she was forced to seek refuge in the west country city of Exeter and gave birth to me there in a rickety little house close to the centre of town. Mam was so thin and unwell that she fully expected to die in childbirth and in her despair and anxiety even wrote a will and instructions for her burial in Exeter Cathedral. She was also worried sick about the coming […]


La Mode à la Cour de Marie Antoinette

How beautiful is this book? I was pleased as punch when I got La mode à la Cour de Marie-Antoinette from my brother in law as a Christmas present, and also rather astounded by how big it is as it is HUGE. Which can be a bit annoying when it comes to finding it a space on my many bookcases, but any inconvenience is well worth it because the size means that the illustrations, many of which take up an entire page or even a fabulous double page spread, can be viewed in unprecedented detail due to their larger than […]


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 Antoinette and the Petit Trianon

The Petit Trianon is a sumptuous jewellery box of a house, tucked away in the Versailles park. Designed in 1762 by Ange-Jacques Gabriel and paid for by Louis XV, it was intended as a present for Madame de Pompadour – its elegant lines a perfect setting for her own delicate, exquisite beauty. Sadly, however, Madame de Pompadour died before her romantic Versailles hideaway, her maison de plaisance in fact, was completed and instead it ended up in the hands of her successor, Madame du Barry, who despite the lurid tales attached to her background, had some seriously good taste in […]