Saturday, September 19, 2009

Coincidence - or Fate?

When I came to plan the family tree of my Ravenhurst clan for the Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series the heroine of the sixth book, the Piratical Miss Ravenhurst, seemed a long way away. I couldn’t “see” her yet or find a name for her.

For some reason I called her father Clement. Then I thought that as my skinny heroine would run away and find herself as a cabin boy on a pirate ship the feminine form of his name, Clemence, which would shorten to Clem, seemed a good choice for her.
When I started to get to know her it seemed to suit her well. And when my hero, Nathan Stanier, meets her he likes the name too -

Clemence. He said the name in his mind, savouring the sound of it, a sort of fruity sweet tang of a name. Tart and challenging, yet mellow too.

I was half way through writing the book when I found myself in my favourite places, a country auction room on Viewing Saturday. There was a pot of odds and ends in a cabinet and poking out of them, the unmistakeable handle of an 18th or early 19thc fan. I collect fans so I took a quick look, saw it was covered in verses in French and put it back amongst the rubbish before anyone else saw me looking at it.
I was in luck - no-one seemed to have spotted it for what it was and the only other bidder when I came back for the auction appeared to be after the Victorian pot the fan was in and certainly wasn’t prepared to battle it out with me!
So I bore off my spoils in triumph and had a good look at what I had bought. I couldn’t read the French verses but the picture seemed to be a scene of six young women and four cupids drawing lots from a revolving drum and handing them out. Then I saw the name - Clémence. The frustration of only being able to make out half the complex old French was acute! What did the verses say?
Luckily I remembered that fellow M&B Historical author Joanna Maitland is an accomplished linguist and she gallantly tackled the archaic French for me.

It was a lottery as I had guessed - a lottery for love. Each young woman was given a verse that described her lover and the virtues he would have -

Here is Love, putting the charms
Of all these beauties to the test.
The prizes, he has promised, will be
The true qualities of men…
A constant friend, a faithful husband,
Are both a lottery.

Poor Isis has no luck at all - and no lover. She is the girl in pink with her head in her hands. Aglaé will have a man with only one virtue, Aglaure, one with two. And so it goes on until -

And finally, there remains but one.
It is for the lovely Clémence.
Her destiny is wonderful, but rare.
It surpasses all her hopes.
A stout heart, a quick mind,
Virtue, courage and a handsome form.
Her lover is blessed with them all.
She has won the fivefold prize.

I could not believe it - the Clémence of the fan (the figure on the right in purple) is promised a hero with all the virtues of my Clemence’s love.

Of course I had to use the fan in the book - but you will have to read it to find out how! The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst is out this month with Mills & Boon Historical and Harlequin Historical.
Louise Allen


Jane Jackson said...

What a lovely story about the fan, Louise. The Ravenhursts are a fascinating bunch, and this book will fly off the shelves.

kate tremayne said...

Louise, this is a fascinating post. I love the story of the fan. The cover of the book is very evocative and it sounds a great adventure romance which will thrill new and old fans.

There are some great books published by our authors this month. The dusting will never get done at this rate.

Jane Odiwe said...

What a wonderful story - I am so envious of your beautiful find!

Joanna Maitland said...

I was delighted to help Louise with the French verses on the fan though I'm happy to admit they were a challenge. I still have my huge dictionaries from University (MANY years ago) and some of the words weren't even in those. So some of the translation had to be done by association. Of course, translating poetry is difficult in any language.

I have read The Piratical Miss R and enjoyed it hugely. I shan't indulge in any spoilers here, except to say that the pirates are not the kind of people you would want to meet on a dark night -- or any night! The heroine fights her corner like a Trojan and the hero is absolutely gorgeous.

But what else would we expect from a Louise Allen story? Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

best wishes to all

Louise Allen said...

Thank you everyone - and especially Joanna for your kind words about Piratical!