Thursday, September 18, 2008
I love researching a new book. The trouble is that as well as finding out the things I need to know, I also discover other information that has no place in my story but is interesting in its own right. For example, I needed to find a mansion or palace in Paris in 1814 where my characters would live for a few months. I found one, but in doing so I became intrigued by another house on the rue du Faubourg St Honore. Built in the 1720 by the Charost family, it was bought in 1803 by Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister, who spent eleven years refurbishing it. After Napoleon had been exiled to Elba she too was forced into exile and put it up for sale. It was bought by the Duke of Wellington who, soon to take up his post as Ambassador, needed a residence and embassy. It is still the British embassy and over the years a fascinating number of people have lived or stayed there. Among them are Madame Recamier, whose father was reputed to have married her to secure her as his heir; Oscar Wilde, composer Franz Liszt who taught music there, and Somerset Maugham who was born in the house. Winston Churchill's parents were married there, and Nancy Mitford featured the house in her novels. There is lots more, but I have to be tough with myself and get back to my story.