A dread and terrible Queen – the bust of Nefertiti.

Photo: Neues Museum, Berlin. ‘As we have it the bust of Nefertiti is artistically and ritualistically complete, exalted, harsh and alien… This is the least consoling of great art works. Its popularity is based on misunderstanding and suppression of its unique features. The proper response to the Nefertiti bust is fear‘ — Camille Paglia (my mother’s heroine), Sexual Personae; art […]

Three thousand book sales

I found out last night that I have now sold over three thousand books! I know that this is the merest BAGATELLE to quite a few of you but I am feeling jolly pleased with myself right now. I don’t often like to talk about my childhood and upbringing as they are more fitting for the pages of a Misery […]

Dust and Shadow – Jack the Ripper v Sherlock Holmes

Haha, you thought I’d forget that Sunday is now Book Review Day but you were WRONG. Thanks to the brilliant BBC series Sherlock and the Guy Ritchie films, there’s been a bit of a resurgence of interest in Sherlock Holmes lately and RIGHTLY SO because, let’s face it, Sherlock Holmes is brilliant and definitely the best Londoner, fictitious or otherwise, […]

The Pleasures of Men – Kate Williams

‘Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her Uncle in a rambling house in London’s East End. She has few companions and little to occupy the days beyond her own colourful imagination. But then a murderer strikes, ripping open the chests of young girls and stuffing hair into their mouths to resemble a beak, leading the press to christen him The Man of […]

Snakes and Bastards – I love you, Agatha Raisin

I have decided that from now on SUNDAY is BOOK REVIEW DAY here on my blog. I give it a week before I forget this resolution but let’s just roll with it while I am still all pumped up with enthusiasm, shall we? Several people over the years have noted that my continued insistence upon using the word ‘shall’ is […]

Kidneys, Thieves and Donne.

Hello! I hope you all enjoyed the plethora of scheduled posts that I arranged for this month so that I could sneak off and attend to some Serious Writing. They’ve run out now though so I’m back again, in body as well as spirit. Before I continue, I’d just like to say a very profound and also gleeful THANK YOU […]

Cross Bones graveyard

‘I have heard of ancient men, of good credit, report that these single women were forbidden the rites of the church, so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the Single Woman’s churchyard, appointed for them far […]

The fabulous and somewhat odd life of Hortense Mancini

Ortensia Mancini was born in Rome in 1646, the fourth of the five celebrated Mancini Sisters, daughters of the sister of Cardinal Mazarin, the chief advisor of the young King Louis XIV of France and reputed lover of his mother, Anne of Austria. After their father’s death in 1650, the Mancini girls were brought to France by their mother, who […]

Marie Antoinette painted by Boze

Marie Antoinette painted by Joseph Boze. This rather unflattering and flat faced portrait was commissioned by her husband Louis XVI in December 1784 to the tune of 2,400 livres, which is peanuts compared to the 18,000 livres that Madame Vigée-Lebrun received for her painting of the Queen with her children.

Before the Storm is out now!

Yes, that’s right! My third novel, Before the Storm is available to download to your Kindle or Kindle app from Amazon US and Amazon UK right now! ‘Unable to attract suitably aristocratic suitors in London, a group of beautiful, wealthy and extremely ambitious English heiresses decide to try their luck in Paris instead. Although they initially take the city of […]

Marie Antoinette in a super fashionable redingote gown

A beautiful drawing of Marie Antoinette from around 1780. It is not known who drew this portrait but it was sent as a present from Axel de Fersen to his beloved sister Sophie. A redingote, as worn here by the Queen was a very popular style of dress in the 1780s – the name comes from the English ‘riding coat’, […]

A flamboyant lady

A gorgeous portrait by John Singleton Copley of Abigail Bromfield, Mrs Daniel Dennison Rogers, painted in around 1784. I’ve loved this painting ever since I came across it while studying for my degree. I love the drama, the shimmering colours, the rich colours of the sunset in the background, the wildness of the sky and the archly questioning look in […]

A visit to the Petit Trianon in 1784

A beautiful painting by Nikklas Lafrensen le Jeune of the fête given by Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon on Monday, 21st June 1784 in honour of Gustave III, King of Sweden. I adore the graceful way that the guests stroll around the illuminated Temple of Love. This painting was part of Gustave’s private collection, kept as a souvenir of […]

Marie Antoinette shocks France with a dress!

Detail from one of the most famous portraits of Marie Antoinette, which was painted by Madame Vigée-Lebrun in 1783. This portrait depicts the 27 year old Queen of France in her favourite outfit, a simple ruffled muslin gown, tied at the waist with a gauze sash and teamed with a ribbon bedecked straw hat. She is posed as though picking […]

Before the Storm, 18th January 2012

Just a quick announcement that Before the Storm, my third novel of iniquity and POSH DOOM in eighteenth century England and France will be released for Kindle on Wednesday, 18th January! I’ll be celebrating the release with a very special giveaway! Based on The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton, Before the Storm is a tale of passion, betrayal and true love […]

The marvellous Merveilleuse

Nothing could be more French than to allow current affairs to influence fashion (just look at the hairstyles concocted by Rose Bertin for Marie Antoinette and her coterie – battleships, babies being born and balloons taking off are just a few examples) and the outrageously dressed Merveilleuses are the finest example of this. Les Merveilleuses (‘The Marvellous Ones’) made their […]

Inside Christ Church, Spitalfields

I’ve written about Christ Church, Spitalfields before but couldn’t resist writing about it again as it is such a stunning building and people don’t often seem to go inside to appreciate just how beautiful and harmonious the interior is. Christ Church was built between 1714 and 1729 by Nicholas Hawksmoor and I think displays his genius more than any of […]

Before the Storm cover!

I am just too excited about this to keep it to myself but HERE at last is the front cover art for my next novel set during the French Revolution, Before the Storm, which will be out next week! How utterly beautiful is this painting? I was seriously stunned when I opened the email and saw it. I love the […]