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.

Corset

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 🙂

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

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.

 

 

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

 

Paris Serendipity

Back from Paris and I’m pleased to report that I’ve written four chapters of the new novel. The outline is working well as a guide and I can still hold the feeling of Paris in my mind which, along with all the wonderful material I gathered, helps a great deal.

A little serendipity story for today’s post.

PolidorIn preparing for our trip, I came across a restaurant called Polidor which has been in operation since 1845 – a perfect place to get a sense for cafe dining in the nineteenth century. Amusingly, the restaurant has a sign posted which reads “Le Polidor n’accepte plus les carts de credit depuis 1845” (The Polidor has not been accepting credit cards since 1845). Cash is the order of the day!

The tables at Polidor are such that you end up sharing space with other diners and since the restaurant was crowded, my husband and I were no exception. The man who joined our table was clearly a regular as he was greeted enthusiastically with a long stream of expressive French, his coat whisked away and a glass of wine appearing almost immediately.

“Bon jour, Monsieur,” I said to be polite.

“Where are you from,” he replied with a British accent. Clearly my French is a dead giveaway that I’m not a native.

Paris-CommuneWe chatted a while about politics, the dampening effect of terrorist attacks, his new career as a playwright (previously a journalist with the New York Times), my writing and a few other subjects. I gave him my card with the thought that he might reciprocate, but he did not.

Two days later, I received an email from him along with a photo he’d taken of a scene during the Paris Commune of 1871. He thought it might be useful for my novel.

Serendipity – yes, indeed.

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.