...making decisions on the basis of what seems best instead of following some single doctrine or style.
Me in a nutshell!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who do you think you are?

One of my favorite shows lately is Who Do You Think You Are? aired on NBC Friday's at 8:00 p.m. If you are interested in your family history at all this is the show to watch. Totally fascinating!!! I have also been reading The Confessions of Catherine De Medici by C.W.Gortner in preparation for our HFBRT event in May. It has been a real treat to see the Brooke Shields episode on Who Do You Thing You Are? She has family links back to Henri III and Catherine. One of her great grandmothers, the daughter of Henri IV was born in the Louvre. Perfect timing for the upcoming HFBRT event, it just makes it more real.
I am including a clip from her episode and a link to the full episode.

Link for full episode:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II pt 2...

My daughter made this amazing movie in tribute to the Queen. It's just beautiful, so touching and so romantic. She has said with pictures and music far more than I could say in words. Hope you will enjoy this and let me know which part touched you the most. I have few favorite scenes but one in particular, but don't want to spoil it for you.

Life and Times of Queen Elizabeth II, A Royal Tribute by Elizabeth Fiorito

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Queen Elizabeth II 84th Birthday Today...

In commemoration of HRM Queen Elizabeth II 84th birthday today April 21 I would like to do a series of posts over the next few days highlighting her life.

What better place to start than at the beginning. Elizabeth Alexandria Mary Windsor the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York and his wife Elizabeth was born by C-section April 21, 1926.
Her official title at birth was Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. She was then 3rd in line to the throne behind her Uncle Edward, Prince of Wales and her father. There was no reason at the time of her birth to presume she would ever be Queen of England, it was always assumed that the Prince of Wales would marry and have children providing an heir to the throne.

Elizabeth was very close to her grandfather King George V he always enjoyed her company especially in his final days, she provided great relief to him. In 1936 he died leaving the throne to the still unmarried Edward Prince of Wales. Elizabeth now became 2nd in line to the throne after her father and within the year after her uncle would abdicate the throne to her father she would become the Heiress Presumptive , and was there after known as Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth.

Elizabeth grew up with her only sibling Princess Margaret born in 1930. She was much loved and doted on by both her parents and the royal household. She was known at a very early age to be "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved". Winston Churchill described Elizabeth at two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."

The following pictures are newly released never before seen pictures of Elizabeth as a baby. They are now on display at Windsor Castle in commemoration of her 84th birthday.

Tomorrow I will doing her early to teen years. I hope you will drop by and check out the commentary and pictures.

“I have to be seen to be believed.” Elizabeth II

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Claude and Camille giveaway...

Excited to offer this giveaway of Stephanie Cowell's newly released Claude and Camille. This give away is for follwers only.
Just comment on this post with your email address and follower ID.

U.S. and Canada only.

Winner will be chosen through Wedensday April 28th.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Passion for Old Libraries, Guest Post with Stephanie Cowells

I feel very honored today to be able to bring you a wonderful guest post by the marvelous author Stephanie Cowells. As many of you know the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table is featuring her newly released book Claude and Camille for this months event. I want to tell Stephanie thank-you for sharing with us this wonderful post on Old Libraries. I think I can safely say that all book bloggers are groupies of libraries and book stores. Something about the smell and feel of books that turn us all on :-). This was a perfect guest post subject for my blog.

From Stephanie Cowells:

Nothing makes my heart beat the same way than entering an old library. There are many such libraries in New York City where I live, among them the Frick Museum and the Morgan. I used to have fantasies of being locked into the Frick all night and able to take down any book I wanted and read it. They are huge and beautifully bound. The Morgan has books way back before the dawn of printing.

When traveling to Europe and England, all anyone needs to say to me is, “Would you like to see the old library at…” and my pulse quickens. So I approached Duke Humphrey’s Library, whose books have sat on those shelves since 1488; it is part of the magical Bodleian at Oxford. For twelve days I lived in its shadow at Jesus College. And some months ago I went to Dublin to see the Book of Kells (gospels copied and illustrated on calfskin around 800) and then climbed the steps to the ancient huge Trinity Library at whose sight I was so stunned that I stood motionless while my eyes filled with tears.

I understood while writing my first novel (Nicholas Cooke, which takes place largely in Elizabethan London) that with an accredited publisher standing behind me, I could be admitted to research libraries and read the books. And so I studied the science of 17th century London from books published at the time; I also studied the invaluable Stow’s Chronicles of London in its first 1596 edition in which John Stow intimately talks about every street and shop he knew in London when Will Shakespeare was a rising writer and the Queen very old and very fascinated by Lord Essex.

Several years ago, the curator’s assistant at the famous Berg Collection of manuscripts in New York’s Public Library invited me over to see some special things. Did I like the Brontes? Well then! He unfolded what I remember was a small leather envelope which held a scrap of brown paper and on it, in her tiny, faded writing, was an early poem by Emily. I touched the very paper she touched over a hundred and fifty years ago in a parsonage in Yorkshire. Another time I went to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book Library and, in the vault of the adjoining Elizabethan Club where tea is served each day, I found and was able to study one of the 13 extant copies of the original publication of Shakespeare’s sonnets. It may have been his own copy; there were a few tiny holes in the pages where a candle spark had burned them.

But there is also a library I love dearly only a few feet away from my desk which has a good collection of books, if none of them as old as the Book of Kells. It is my library. I have a reproduction of Shakespeare’s First Folio and a friend gave me a Victorian housekeeping book printed 1848 in which I found very dry pressed flowers between the pages. Who put them there?

Old books and libraries! There time past is surely time present always.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mary Cassatt an Impressionist...

I have chosen to do my creative post for the Historical Fiction Round Table event featuring Stephanie Cowell's newly released Claude and Camille on Mary Cassatt~the only recognized woman and American Impressionist.

Mary was born in 1844 into a very wealthy family in Allegheny City Pennsylvania. She was one of seven children. Her parents were firm believers in education for both sons and daughters. They were very encouraging in broadening their children's horizons. They sent Mary as a pre-teen abroad to Europe visiting all the capital cities for five years. It was during this time that she began to pursue her talent as an artist. Her first exposure to the Impressionist was at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1855. Degas and Pissarro were exhibiting and would later become Mary's colleagues and mentors.

Upon returning to the United States Mary enrolled at the age of fifteen in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Her parents objected to her becoming a professional artist. They were concerned about the bohemian lifestyle and feminist indoctrination. Mary was not impressed with the academic at the Academy and left it with no degree granted. She wanted to study real art with live models. She finally was able to convince her father and she, her mother and a few family friends left for Paris. She studied with Jean Leon Gerome, Charles Chaplin and Thomas Couture.

Becoming a recognized and commissioned artist is a rough road at best. Mary was very frustrated. She had many admirers, but no sales. 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war Mary returned to the United States. Her father still adamantly objected to her chosen profession. He allowed her to live in the family home and paid for her living expenses, but would not allow her to spend one penny of his money on art supplies. She was so frustrated that in 1871 she wrote to her friend I have given up my studio & torn up my father's portrait...

In 1872 Mary returned to France with hopes of self starting her career. What she found was that the art world was a man's world. Female artists were seen with contempt and publicly ridiculed. Mary was very outspoken regarding this giving the public more reason to dismiss her work.

1877 was the lowest point of her career. She was rejected and humiliated. It was during this time that the Impressionist Degas came to notice Mary's work and invited her to exhibit with the Impressionists at independent exhibitions that were gaining much attendant notoriety. Mary was always an admirer of Degas, Renoir, Monet and the others. She was so grateful to Degas, they became life long friends. This was the launching of her career. Mary would go onto receive countless awards and recognition. Her legacy includes: SS Mary Cassatt a World War II Liberty Ship launched in 1943, the all-female Cassatt Quartet formed at Julliard in honor of the painter in 1985, and US Postal Service stamp collections. Her paintings have sold for as much as $2.9 million. She died in 1926 at the age of 82 near Paris and is buried in the family vault in Le Mesnil-Théribus France.

She was said to be the artist that captured the tender moment. Her art work was almost exclusively about real life scenes especially those of the mother and child. She often used her own mother, sisters, nieces and nephews as her models. She drew from observing those tender moments in life and transported them onto the canvas making them eternal. She is my favorite Impressionist.

The following are some of her more recognized works:

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