Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites April Love 1855

Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)

"The scene is set after a lovers' quarrel: the girl's eyes are spilling tears while, behind her, barely indistinguishable in form and color from the wood around them, sits, her lover, head in hands."

I have always admired this painting and recently discover the lover in the background. I am not sure if it is just me but I have been looking at this picture for years and never saw him or the tears. My favorite part is the dress and the color scheme he chose, the purple is balanced with the greenery to perfection.

At its first showing Hughes accompanied the painting with an extract from Tennyson's poem "The Miller's Daughter":
Love is hurt with jar and fret,
Love is made a vague regret,
Eyes with idle tears are set,
Idle habit links us yet;
What is Love? For we forget.
Ah no, no.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites The Order of Release 1853

Painted by Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896), one of the only paintings in history that actually needed its own personal body guards to shield it from the adoring fans.

I am profoundly moved by this painting it has struck something so deep inside me that I can feel the emotion represented. One would think that after receiving the order for release from prison a family reunion would be a happy moment. The symbolism is distressing to me because I am a mother but before I was a mother I was a wife. I love my husband so deeply with every fiber of my being that the emotion portrayed in her expression tears at a part of my soul.

"The picture tells of a Scottish Highlander's release from prison during one of the many wars waged between the Highlanders and the English army. The determined, resigned facial expression of his wife suggests that his order of release was obtained at the expense of her honor; the husband humiliated, defeated stance suggest he knows the sacrifice she made. The model for the soldier's wife was Scottish Effie Ruskin; later to become Effie Millais. It was during the painting of this picture that she and Millais fell in love and she confided to him the travesty of her marriage to Ruskin".
Essential Pre-Raphaelites

"The subject is simply that of a wife, with child in her arms, coming with an order of release for her husband, who has been taken in the Civil Wars. The husband, overcome with emotions, and weak from a recent wound (his arm is in a sling), can but fall upon her neck and weep; moan, "firm of purpose," sheds no tear; she has none to shed; but her eye is red and heavy with weeping and waking; and she looks at the stern and unconcerned gaoler with a proud look, expressing that she has won the reward for all her trouble past. The colouring, the textural execution, are marvellous (for these degenerate days)".
Illustrated London News

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sundays Art: Pre-Raphaelites Ophelia 1894

Inspired by Shakespeare, John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) recreates Hamlet's Opehelia as she is descending into madness: capturing her last moments before drowning.

I recently discovered some of the more hidden meaning with in this piece. The wet stringy hair is a mirror of an "unbalanced state or a wandering mind". The blood red flowers are for her imminent death, white are for her chastity. A flower crown, her ties to the royal house of Denmark.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Book Review: THE QUEEN'S DOLLMAKER by Christine Trent

Due to hit bookstores December 29Th 2009.

Paris 1765 Claudette Renee Laurient, daughter of a well known French doll maker suffered the tragic loss of her parents during a devastating fire. The fire not only took her parents but her home, her fathers doll shop, and her child hood sweetheart. Having nowhere to go she haphazardly wandered aimlessly looking for a hint of a recognizable face. Sweetheart Jean-Philippe and his family were nowhere to be found but maybe they had fled by boat. At the ship docks there was no sign of him or his family but she did cross another mans path. The man was seeking eligible women who wanted to work in England. Other elegant women waiting patiently to board and Claudette decided to take a chance and set sail across the channel.

Aboard she would befriend her life long best friend Beatrice. She had a timid personality and was more than likely because of the loss of her husband. Beatrice did have little Marguerite her shining star. A vibrant young child who was instantly drawn to Claudette. Besides meeting Beatrice she also met and befriended Lizbit. A loud fashionably dressed woman who I found myself imagining her talking wildly with her hands as she told lavish tales of her travels abroad. Prior to their arrival the men on board demanded that they all sign a document and Claudette being one of the few who could read realized they wanted to take almost half of her earned wages. My favorite part of the arrival was when all the women were all paraded out on the docks while future "employers" looked eagerly at them. Leave it to Lizbit to sound the alarm with "Ladies they mean to spoil your virtue"! Women scattered, yelling while Claudette and her new friends made a break for it. The recruiters hench men ran after them nipping at their heels. Luckily they out maneuvered the men and lost them.

With no where to go the two women and the child went to the church for help while Lizbit returned home to her rich aunt. Forced by hunger and lack of shelter the women went into the service of a nasty social climber Maude Ashby. Forever wishing to raise her families status she was an in home tyrant. Not to mention that the other servants would not mingle with the French girls and there was a deep animosity between them. Claudette had no other choice but to find the means to leave the oppressive tyrants home. The idea occurred to her why not make her own dolls? She was after all her fathers apprentice. Luckily in her escape from Paris she was able to salvage some items from the doll shop. With the help from her loyal friends and a few others seeking to better their lives she was able to make a dramatic exit from Maude Ashby's service and move up in status to become a tradeswoman.

Claudette was a rags to riches kind of girl with one exception, she made her own riches. Her talent and handy work spoke for themselves. She became successful in her own right. She was obviously lacking in the love department. I found Claudette's antics amusing. The longing for her lost love in Paris had faded over time and the handsome lord William Greycliffe "occupied a small portion of her heart she did not want him to have". She had first met him in her service days at the Ashby's home. Later her hopes were destroyed when she discovered he was married, but somethings do not last forever.

Pouring her heart and soul into creating intricately beautiful French dolls. Eventually caught the eye of the glittering queen of France, Marie Antoinette herself. The queen requested Claudette to pay a visit to the French court. Upon her arrival she was stunned and overjoyed to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jean-Philippe. Jean had entered the guard service for the queen and she was presented to the queen by him. Marie Antoinette had called upon her to make a special doll, one to be made like no other. Made with the exact likeness of the queens notorious favorite the beautiful Princesse de Lambelle.

At the queens request Claudette's every waking thought was about the "Lambelle doll". Her loyalty to the queen was unwavering in a time when the queens "frivolous" ways were severely scrutinized. Claudette found herself at one point torn between England and France. William or Jean? Both men loved her, but where was home and her heart? Her choice could affect so many that there was bound to be someone left disgruntled. Approaching the dangerous times of the French revolution her loyalties to the queen could put her in a perilous situation. Claudette could easily be swallowed up by the whirling vortex of chaos and terror that had taken full grip on all of France. Or could England become her safe haven?

4/5 One unique aspect of the novel that I immensely enjoyed was the details of the doll making. The carving, wax working, dressing, and designing were all very interesting. I noticed that it was a process just like any other creative process of trial and error. This read did give me a temporary fix for my thirst of a novel on France. Giving an outsiders prospective to the merchant side of England and the French court give a different appeal that was much needed for me at this point in my readings. I highly recommend this novel because I did enjoy Claudette and her two worlds. It was like she was living in two completely different worlds. Eventually she would have to choose but which one?

Update 12-30-2009: I decided to change my rating for this novel because I was on the fence when I finished reading it about whether to give it a four or a five. One of my ways for deciding how to rate a book is off of my immediate feelings about the book. How I decide if a book is my favorite is if it leaves a lingering thought in my mind for some time. This novel really has stuck with me and I really felt like I gave it a four because I was actually disappointed that it ended. Now that some time has passed I feel differently one because I think about this book at least once a week randomly, two being that I really did love this book and it does deserve a 5 muses because I have now added it my favorites.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Giveaway The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens

The first book in a brand-new series, The Black Cobra Quartet, from New York Times and USA Today: bestselling romance author. The Untamed Bride by Stephanie Laurens

This is an INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY and it is for a paperback copy. Contest starts November 10Th and ends the 17Th at midnight. Good luck all!

* For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you.
* For 2 entries follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know in the comments. You're eligible for the extra entry as well.
* For 3 entries blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word.

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens presents a brash, bold new series.
They're battle-hardened, sinfully wealthy, completely unstoppable—and all male: Four officers of the Crown, fighting against a deadly foe known only as the Black Cobra.
He is a man who has faced peril without flinching, determined to fight for king and country.
She is a bold, beautiful woman with a scandalous past, destined to become an untamed bride.
Together they must vanquish the ruthless enemy, while confronting the dangers of the heart

For more information, Order your copy, An interview with Stephanie

Monday, November 02, 2009


Kate Emerson's "Between Two Queens" is due to hit book stores January 1st 2010. Many of you are probably wondering how I managed to get my hands on this tasty treat. I was lucky enough to be one of the few book reviewers who got an advanced readers copy. I did my first author interview with the lovely Kate Emerson on "Pleasure Palace" not too long ago. Which just made me love her even more. Kate was gracious enough to bring me into her circle on the release of "Between Two Queens". Thank you Kate for everything it has been a pleasure!

"Pleasure Palace" was the first installment of this delightful series Secrets of The Tudor Court. When I first picked it up I was just starting to become obsessed with historical fiction. Of all the places to find books Target was never top on my list. Many of you might not know this but Target actually has a historical fiction section, which no other book store I have ever been in has. That is how I discovered Kate Emerson and it helped that I am a sucker for a beautiful cover. At that time there was no blog in my life and I later found out it was to be a series. It was fate that I was drawn to Kate's novels.

"Between To Queen" had me pondering from the beginning, what two queens, and what is between them? My first thought was Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. That bitter rivalry has been a focal point of many historical fiction novels. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the first queen was Jane Seymour and later her predecessors, Anna of Cleves, and both Catherine's. Living up to my high expectations that I developed from "Pleasure Palace", Kate once again pick a view point that I had never even considered. The lady in waiting Anne Bassett aka Nan.

Zealously ambitious Nan Bassett was the daughter of Sir Thomas Bassett and Honor Grenville. When Sir John passed away Honor later remarried Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle and deputy of Calais. Honor herself was a renowned beauty in her prime, considering she was one of Anne Boleyn's beautiful ladies. It was only natural that Nan would be like her mother and become a beautiful lady herself. Pretty enough to draw King Henry VIII attention.
"She Thought of Love as a Game, but Catching the eye of King Henry VIII could be Deadly Serious"
In the beginning she is embarks by ship with her sister Catherine aka Cat from Calais to hopefully become a lady in waiting to the pregnant Queen Jane. On the ship her stepfather sent his man to watch over the girls and make sure they made a safe arrival, Ned. Upon the sisters safe arrival to court they were to be examined by the queen Jane, sadly the queen would only pick one girl to become part of the ladies in waiting. Nan and her sister waited on bended knee for the queens approval but it was a long time coming until Nan though she saw a man lurking behind the queen's screen, watching. It was a game to the royals to see who would crack first and Nan was not going to give in she wanted it so bad she could taste it. When Henry vamped out from behind the queen Nan was memorized to the point that she could not pry her eyes from the king, which he enjoyed.

Queen Jane defiantly did not like it but she had no choice in the matter Henry had already made up his mind on the prettier sister Nan. Selecting the prettier of the sister would cause a rift between them for some time. To be mean Cat squashed Nan's idea's of the glitz and glamor of court when the realization that Queen Jane was about to go into seclusion to give birth to the future heir to the throne. Nan was not happy about it and as the time passed on Jane took her frustrations out on Nan. The only reason being that the king chose her because she was a pretty girl.

After finally seeing the light of day away from the dark dungeon they called a birthing chamber, something caught Nan's attention. it could be none other than the handsome man that had brought her there, Ned. There was something about him, maybe it was the pheromone's she first smelt on him back on the ship. Nan was developing feelings for him but he was a man of no means and that was not what she signed up for. She had plainly stated her intentions of going to court to Ned on the ride over. Her goal was to snag herself a rich and titled husband. Ned was a constant support to Nan even though she continued to deny her feelings for him. He would have died if it meant to save her.

After Queen Jane's sudden passing her household was disbanded and with no queen to serve Nan was sent packing to her cousins house. While at her cousins house Nan's feelings for Ned grew stronger than what she liked. She became secretive and guarded with her feelings until she could no longer deny them. Would she be able to love Ned unconditionally or would her ambition ruin her own feelings? Divided by her long time ambitions and love for Ned she knew she had to stay on her path to find the target she was looking to hit. There are always repercussions to choices and did she make the right choices? Her heart told her she did but really was it what was best for her? Was she on target or did the target change to the biggest one of them all?

As painful as it was to read about Nan and how she was shuffled from house to house, queen to queen, the professional life of a courtier was not an easy one. Nan from the beginning was not a strong ethical woman. Her ambition over rid her ethics which opened the door to other possibilities for her like mistress to the king or maybe just a mistress. In the Tudor court there are secrets and even Nan had something to hide. Her goals for finding herself a rich husband all came crashing down on her abruptly when her family was thrown into to tower for conspiring against the king. She became the traitors daughter. Her target had changed to finding a way to save her family and most importantly someone she secretly cared for. Would all be lost family, friends and even her prospects? Could she soothe her ambition or would it get the better of her and eat her alive?

5/5 Muses, loved every word of it. The fresh prospective of Nan Bassett was really interesting. To see what it was like as a lady in waiting during Henry's rein was a really worth while read, it gave much needed insight. Plus who could pass up a juicy novel with infidelities, lies, and plotting. This a new favorite of mine now especially with Kate's fresh approach on Catherine Howard. A highly recommended read. I can not wait for the next one "By Royal Decree" which is about Bess Brooke.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sunday's Art: Anne Bassett, Between Two Queens By Kate Emerson

After reading Between Two Queen's I once again was inspired by Nan (Anne Bassett) to bring her to life in my own way. I know she has a more modern look but when I do these they never come out quite as I expect them to. I is a big one again and I am having issues scanning them into my computer. With that being said they come out a bit distorted. Why I am not sure but either way I still love them. I did her my typical way water color pencil and crayon. Then filled in the details in color pencil. I hope you all enjoy her!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...