Embers of a Lesser-Known French Revolution

The New York Times posted an interesting article about the Paris Commune last Thursday. Those of you who know that my novel Paris In Ruins is set in that time period – how could you miss that bit of information? – will know that 1871 was a tumultuous time pitting citizen against citizen on the streets of Paris. Apparently, there are Parisians who think that particular revolution should never have been quashed.

A couple of quotes to entice you to read the article.

..as France has been rocked by a series of social movements in recent years, the story of the Paris Commune has made a comeback, with protesters making connections between today’s struggles and those of a century and a half ago.

New York Times April 29, 2021
Announcing a funeral for communards killed by the French army

It is a historical event that backs up new grass-roots demands in terms of reclaiming social, political and economic power.

New York Times April 29, 2021

The Commune was long invoked as a model of class warfare … until the memory began to fade in the 1980s, along with communist ideology.

New York Times April 29, 2021
Rue de Rivoli

Catherine Kremar, a 70-year-old seasoned leftist activist, smiled as she watched the protest around her. “Revolutionary Paris is not dead,” she said.

New York Times April 29, 2021

It seems the desire for a more equal society does not fade away. At least in France.

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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 www.mktod.com.

NY Times Book Club

Every week, I read the Sunday NY Times. Along with breakfast and a leisurely coffee, I can relax for at least an hour or two dipping into its different sections. Surprisingly, I find the Business section quite interesting and of course, there’s the Opinion pieces and competition between my husband and I over who gets to read that first. But I digress.

Two weeks ago, I noticed a full page ad for the Times’ book club inviting subscribers to join a discussion of Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country. I’d never read any of Wharton’s fiction, but I did read her WWI diaries – a fascinating look at Paris and other parts of France during that terrible conflict. Those diaries gave me tidbits of inspiration as I wrote Lies Told In Silence. A NY Times discussion of an author who wrote in the late 19th and early twentieth century sounded like a great idea to me, so I signed up.

Edith Wharton – source Goodreads

If you’re interested in a synopsis of The Custom of the Country, you can check it out here.

The main character, Undine Spragg, is a Midwestern girl who attempts to ascend New York society. Needless to say, those of influence in NYC are at first not the slightest bit interested in a brash, grasping young woman whose only attractive feature is her beauty. That is, not until the son of a family from established New York ‘aristocracy’ decides to marry her.

Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children, presented the novel along with details of Edith Wharton’s background and writing career – apparently Edith wrote her first book at 40 and has many works to her credit, including novels, poetry, novellas, non-fiction, and short stories.

Claire Messud called The Custom of the Country a ‘comedy of manners’ that was written during a time when Wharton was divorcing her husband Teddy Wharton and relocating to Paris. Messud suggested that Undine Spragg – the initials US being significant – is an indomitable heroine of unwavering ambition. Watching the chat comments it was clear to me that many of those attending disliked the heroine intensely – my opinion as well.

What was it like to participate in a book club of more than 4000 people? Actually, there was no participation – unless you call a chat column that scrolled so quickly you couldn’t really read it participation. However, I did appreciate Claire Messud’s presentation and her enthusiasm for both Wharton and The Custom of the Country and I applaud the New York Times’ book club venture.

I think I’ll try Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence next.

DON’T MISS OTHER POSTS ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION.  FOLLOW A WRITER OF HISTORY

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest 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 www.mktod.com.

A ‘Shultz Hour’

source: Macali Communications

A departure from historical fiction to consider life in general. One of my favourite newspapers is the New York Times. We get the Sunday NYT in Toronto as well as reading it whenever we’re in the US and I almost always find time to read the Op-Ed section. (I like the Sunday business section but that’s another story.)

On April 18th David Leonhardt wrote Why You’d Benefit from a Shultz Hour, which spoke to me.

Leonhardt draws wisdom and perspective from George Shultz, a former Secretary of State who dedicated one hour a week for uninterrupted reflection. Leonhardt uses that notion to talk about the search and need “for a reprieve from our smart-phone addled lives”. Further, he makes the connection between taking time for such idleness and creativity. Such “task-negative” time according to Daniel J. Levitin of McGill University is “responsible for our moments of greatest creativity and insight, when we’re able to solve problems that previously seemed unsolvable.”

Hmmm … I’m in the business of creativity. Better start having my own Shultz hour!

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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 www.mktod.com.