French History

Whether it is just the chunk of the Boxall list I am working through at the moment, or the random books I am choosing from my Goodreads list–for some reason I seem to be reading a lot of French literature lately.

Or trying to.

I am getting really frustrated, because I am not enjoying the books as much as I want to. Either they are taking way too long to read, or I just find them excruciatingly boring. Mauprat wasn’t bad, but I am into my second Dumas novel, and I think I have figured out why I hate him so much.

Dumas writes about real events–his books are basically James Bond books of the 1800s. They are about espionage and war and real kings. Maybe the heroes are fictional, but all the history is real.

And I do not know that history, so I am COMPLETELY lost. Hence my frustration! I know all about British history, because I’ve been reading about it for years…but French? Nada. I know there were rough relations with the Spanish for awhile, but I don’t know if they ever went to war. And I know there was a revolution with Napoleon…which I think is what this book is talking about. But without Googling it, I couldn’t even tell you what happened there. It has been years since my World History class in high school.

So. Dear readers. I need your help. Enlighten me. I need more French History. What are your favorites? Biographies. Period histories. Fact-based historical fiction about real people (you know the kind I like…I’m not talking romance novels here). Give me some good stuff that I can read up on the kings and queens and drama.

And don’t worry…I probably will use Google. But reading in depth is so much better! Thanks for your help!

Mauprat

Why are so many of our famous love stories such toxic ones? I guess we all just love drama. “Ordinary loves” are boring.

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Mauprat is one of those super dramatic love stories. If you want to call it a love story. It fits into that brooding, toxic, anti-hero theme similar to Wuthering Heights.

The story begins with basically a “pack” of psychopathic male family members who capture a young woman with sinister intentions. Their nephew Bernard saves Edmee on the condition that she promise to marry him, which she recants as soon as she is safe at home. Because, she says, who wants to marry a wild man?

He has fallen instantly in love with her, as men do, so he agrees to become educated. She keeps in on the hook for years, even though she is engaged to someone else. Sometimes she claims to be in love with Bernard, sometimes this other guy, sometimes she says she will never marry at all. The whole thing is ridiculous. Bernard even goes to fight in the American Revolution for awhile, but still comes back under the pretense that Edmee loves him.

I won’t tell you what happens in the second half of the book, but the drama only increases, and just…UGH! Enough already! Still, I had to read the whole thing, to find out what happens.

Of course I did.

I’m really not surprised, after reading Elizabeth Berg’s historical fiction bio, that this is George Sand’s version of a love story. Sand’s romantic life was such a roller coaster, so perhaps this sort of up and down all over the place DOES seem romantic.

The mike drop quote of the book is this:  “We were two exceptional characters; our loves had to be heroic; the beaten track would have led both of us to ruin.”

Pretty intense, right? In my opinion, the couple did come pretty close to ruin, in the end, and not so close to heroism. Either way, I’m surprised this drama isn’t more popular in the world of classic fiction. If you are a fan of Bronte, you’ll like this one too.