Google+ The Art that Inspires Writers and Readers: 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Paintings to die for

This is a detail of one of the "Ophelia" paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Sir John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896). As a child I would spend time in marvelled contemplation of the lady drowned, covered by flowers. The paint looked cracked in the book, giving it an aura of despair and abandon. No heroine of historical romance novels ends up like her and the knowing of this rule is one of the pleasures of the genre. You know that no matter how much the heroine suffers, at the end she will find love and hope and happiness. But It will be Ophelia's image the one that never fades from my memory. While countless others just blend one to the other and float away, leaving just a passing feeling of light enjoyment.

An other pre-Raphaelite painter with a similar style: John William Waterhouse ( British, 1845-1916) painted images from mythology and legends, most of them depicting women near the water (A self--fulfilling prophecy?). The pre-raphaelite style was already out of date when he embraced it, but the general public has never really liked the vanguard. Maybe because of this he enjoyed fame during his lifetime, not a small feat for a painter.

This is probably his most famous paintings:  The lady of Shalott, a study of Eleine of Astolat,  who dies of grief when Lancelot will not love her.

And let me just ad one more: Miranda, from Shakespeare's play The Tempest. She lives in an isolated island since the age of three, where she has been banished with her father and slave. She finds out that she is the princess of Milan and later she finds true love with a shipwrecked prince. Naive Miranda expresses her wander of the world at the end of the play : 

O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That has such people in't.

maybe she should be expressing her wonder to remain alive.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A new Outlander Movie just for you!

Dear ladies

I have a real treat for you today! specially if you love historical romance AND graphic novels. This is how I arrived to the world of "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon. Somebody in a forum recommended her graphic novel "The Exile" and the rest is history...because I fell hard for her novels. 

I am not the only one though, and one of my fellow fans is the talented Alex Oliver, who generously allowed me to share her drawings of the story of Jamie and Claire with you. This is  Alex's interpretation of the meting of Jamie and Claire after being apart for 20 years, which appears on the third book of the series "Voyager"

Although the TV channel Starz is making a high budget series out of Outlander, I am not pretending to compete with them. This is something else entirely.  I made this video with Alex's drawings (which you can find at her Facebook page). Isn't she great?!.

Please enjoy!!!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dangerous Women

Dear Ladies,

I just got my copy of a long awaited anthology: "Dangerous Women"  More about this book may follow depending on how much I like it. I am starting with the novella "Virgins" by the incomparable Diana Gabaldon and plan to continue with a story set in the Game of Thrones World. 

In the meantime I live you with a paragraph of the book description:
 “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands."

Isn't it fantastic how our heroine's have evolved? from helpless TSTL (too stupid to live) girls to this strong ladies that reflect how we want to see women these days.
Woman have been always strong...even when they had to disguise it as nothing more than maternal pride. As masterfully shown in this 1814 portrait of  Maréchale Lannes, Duchesse de Montebello with Her Children.

From the Web Gallery of art (all rights belong to them)

"... After her beloved husband's death on May 31st 1809, Maréchale Lannes was chosen, for her irreproachable morality and virtue, to become Dame d'honneurs (lady-in-waiting) to the new Empress 
Marie-Louise (wife to Napoleon I). From about 1814, the year this painting was commissioned, the Duchess of Montebello began to withdraw from public and lead a retired life, devoted to her five children". An still the strength is impossible to disguise...isn't it? One has to wonder about the real woman behind this description.

 What I think is that life at court was a dangerous business no one faint of heart could survive. To "retire" from it must have been even more difficult, specially while still carrying your lovely head over your shoulders. Now about the "retiring" part: she went to take care of 5 children (4 of them boys! so even with a ton of servants no walk in the park) and to be the CEO of a huge ducal estate. No chaise lounge for her...or maybe at the end of a tiring but fulfilling day. Good for her!.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Romance novel cover: an endangered species.

Dear Ladies,

I am not claiming this is the highest form of art...although it must be a genre in itself : the paperback Romance novel cover and "hidden cover". 

It is also an alarmingly endangered species now that kindle books usually just omit this piece of delectable morsel.

In the spirit of conservation (safe the cheese cover!) I made this video of  a series of novels by Stephanie Laurens: "the Cynsters" an all time favourite with domineering, powerful, handsome, mulish male characters. Devil's bride, the first and best book in the series has a terrible cover, mainly because the image of the Hero has a questionable appeal. See for yourself the offending art-peace at your left. 

I followed the suggestion of a fellow bloger and attempted plastic surgery using the likeliness of the model Christian Bonello
You can be the judges of my work in this little video. I wish I had better images for some of the stories, but even the new paperback editions of the books have sober covers these days.


And for those of you who want to learn more about these characters check out the author's page


Friday, November 8, 2013

"THE" season

Dear Ladies,

We read about  "the season" in every other historical  romance novel. let me start by adding a little historical cartoon making fun of the marriage mart. Because, lets face it: this was hunting season at its best. 

The season started in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in its traditional form it peaked in the 19th century, ending at the time of World War I.

The English aristocracy would pour into their London Mansions a little after Christmas. The men would dutifully (or not) sit at parliament and the young ladies would formally start their social life by been presented to the King or Queen at court. After attending coming-out balls, charity events, dinner parties, horse races and the like the aristocracy and gentry would retire again to the country at the end of June.

Interestedly, it was Queen Elisabeth II who ended with the presentation at court in 1958. Débutante balls are still alive and kicking though.

Back to historical literature: I found an other little book by John S Goodall (see my previous post)  with what could be described as a step by step guide of what not to miss at the London season. I am very pleased with the resulting short video I can share with you:


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The places visited by my heroines

As an avid reader of Historical fiction, I found myself lagging in actual knowledge of the events portrayed. With little time to spare I just ignored my own ignorance and pieced together the bits I was learning from the novels themselves, movies and the very occasional Google search.

Until I found an old little book in my local library with beautiful pictures of places I had read about many times. The author was John Goodall,  best known for his wordless picture adventure books for children. The setting was The Edwardian era (England during the Reign of Edward VII 1901-1910, and sometimes extended to 1919), but The images could have been from the regency (aprox 1795-1832) or the Victorian era (1832-1901)  because the way of  life had not changed much before the first world war. The fashion had changed of course, but not the places and the entertainments.

I  wanted to share my little discovery and made a small video attempt, using some of Goodall's pictures.

It brought be back memories about Barbara Cartland's Novels, were several "Gaiety Girls" were portrayed. The croquet game picture made me remember the Bridgerton family from Julia Quinn's novels. There was also a "rotten row" image, with horse-riding-heroine included.

 I hope you enjoy it.