The World of 1870 Paris

While launching Paris In Ruins, a number of authors and bloggers hosted guest articles featuring the world of 1870 Paris.

On the Washington Independent Review of Books, editor-in-chief Holly Smith invited me to write about The Enduring Allure of Paris.

Paris—a city ingrained in our imaginations. A city that is both grand and lived in, a city of massive cathedrals and quiet neighborhoods, a city full of mystery and romance. The city of love, the city of light. Why have writers flocked to Paris for hundreds of years? A brief dip into history sets the stage. In the middle ages, the Catholic church established schools attached to major monasteries to train scholars not only for the church, but also to serve in government. Read more …

On Sarah Johnson’s well-known blog Reading the Past, I wrote about the Delights of a Research Trip to Paris.

Paris In Ruins is set during the Franco-Prussian War, the Siege of Paris, and the Paris Commune. I arrived at these momentous events not by design but by calculating when two characters from an earlier novel, Lies Told In Silence, would be roughly twenty years old. I had imagined a novel about friendship between these very different women with a dash of romance and perhaps some tangled family dynamics. However, when I discovered a war, a siege, and a bloody insurrection, the plot took on much more drama. For more …

Author Elizabeth St. John and book blogger Davida Chazan hosted an article about Sarah Bernhardt’s involvement in the Siege of Paris.

In My Double Life, Bernhardt mentions her decision to establish a hospital (ambulance): “The Odéon Theatre had closed its doors, but I moved heaven and earth to get permission to organise an ambulance in that theatre, and, thanks to Emile de Girardin and Duquesnel, my wish was gratified. I went to the War Office and made my declaration and my request, and my offers were accepted for a military ambulance. The next difficulty was that I wanted food. I wrote a line to the Prefect of Police. A military courier arrived very soon, with a note from the Prefect containing the following lines … read more …

Rats, Trees and Breadlines was an article I wrote for author Judith Starkston’s blog

Imagine knowing that an army of more than 400,000 soldiers was approaching your city. How would you feel? What preparations would you make? Would you worry about your children, the men you loved who’d enlisted to defend the city, your friends and family? Would you wonder how you would feed your family and whether or not your job was secure? With winter only a few months away, would you be concerned about having enough wood or coal to keep your fires burning? Read more …

The spark of inspiration – or how Paris In Ruins came about – was hosted by authors Elisabeth Storrs and Char Newcomb.

Writers are not always masters of their own stories. There are editors to please, early readers who help tune the story, husbands and friends who offer suggestions—the list goes on. Each new story begins with a glimmer of an idea, that spark that ultimately leads to a finished novel. The challenge is to feed that spark and breathe life into the fire as the writing process unfolds. For that we need inspiration on an almost daily basis. Read more …

I hope you enjoy reading more about turbulent world of 1870 Paris. I’m deeply grateful to these individuals who supported the launch of Paris In Ruins.


M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, PARIS IN RUINS, is available for pre-order on Amazon USAmazon CanadaKobo, and Barnes&Noble. An earlier novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her website

Imagining 1870s Paris

A few weeks ago I posted some photos that provided inspiration for Acts of Rebellion which is set in 1870s Paris. I found some of them online, some in books, and took others during a trip to Paris last spring.

Acts of Rebellion features Mariele du Crecy and Camille Noisette. The du Crecy family has connections to the aristocracy and their wealth is considered ‘old money’. The Noisette family’s wealth came more recently. In particular, Camille’s father became exceedingly wealthy from real estate development and investments during Napoleon III’s rebuilding of Paris. This rebuilding took place from 1852 to 1870 and beyond. Camille lives in an expensive home in the 7th arrondissement.

The Noisette salon and library might look something like these rooms.

In Chapter 6, Camille and Mariele get to know one another while strolling in the Tuileries gardens. Beyond the fountain in this 1850 photo is the Tuileries Palace. It was destroyed during the Commune so if you visit Paris now, the Tuileries gardens are larger than they were at the time of Acts of Rebellion. Behind the Tuileries Palace is the Louvre.

While out strolling, Camille wears a dress like the one below which was taken at the Louvre. Of course, beneath the dress she’ll have on some sort of corset laced tightly at the back.


Day dress

Promenading was a frequent occupation for Parisians. Many strolled the fashionable streets or through various gardens of Paris to see and be seen. I doubt any of them were focused on exercise the way we are today 🙂

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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, TIME AND REGRET was published by Lake Union on August 16, 2016. Mary’s other novels, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website



Pictures = thousands of words

I’m in edit mode on my newest manuscript called variously Camille and Mariele, Acts of Rebellion, or A Time of Rebellion. As I go through the pages with the usual angst about whether my writing is any good, whether my publisher will like it, and whether the structure hangs together, I’ve been identifying photos that have provided inspiration.

The story begins in June 1870 in Paris and encompasses the Franco-Prussian war, the siege of Paris and the Paris Commune, events which took place from July 1870 to May 1871. Definitely a tumultuous time.

Here are a few photos relevant to the first four chapters.

Du Crecy family salon (living room) - opening scene
Du Crecy family salon (living room) – opening scene

View from the salon - beyond the trees is Parc Monceau
View from the salon – beyond the trees is Parc Monceau

gown Mariele wore when she first met Bertrand
gown Mariele wore when she first met Bertrand

Mariele's mother's bedroom - chapter 2
Mariele’s mother’s bedroom – chapter 2

A salon gathering - used in chapter 3
A salon gathering – used in chapter 3

Salon gathering - chapter 3
Salon gathering – chapter 3

Marilee's gown - a composite of these two - chapter 4
Mariele’s gown – a composite of these two – chapter 4

Chapter 4 setting is Bois de Boulogne
Chapter 4 setting is Bois de Boulogne