Reading good books with interesting historical plots makes me want to know more about the real life history. The Queen of Paris is no exception. Reading it just made me want to learn more about Coco Chanel, especially about her collaboration with the Nazis. What really led her down that awful path? Did she regret it? Is that why she fled to Switzerland after Paris was liberated?
I am hoping my questions will be answered in Sleeping With the Enemy. Mr. Vaughan’s findings from his investigation into Coco’s life during Nazi-occupied Paris are revealed for the first time in this book. It was published in 2011 and since then other books about her Nazi past have been written, but this is the book that started it all.
Also, Mr. Vaughan’s book dedication gave me the chills: “This book is dedicated to those French men and women who, though bent by the Nazi yoke, refused to to collaborate. And as always, for Phuong.”
I look forward to reading this book and learning more, even if it will be unpleasant.
Women (and their accomplishments) are often left out of history. This is nothing new and we are well aware of it. It’s not right and it’s not fair. I’m going to do my part to write about women in history (especially in the Cold War era). Please join me as we kick off this new series with Miss Eloise Randolph Page.
Eloise Page began her career as a secretary in the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) in 1947. What’s remarkable about her is that she moved up through the ranks to become the CIA’s first Chief of Station in an era where women in intelligence were simply not promoted.
Miss Page was born in Richmond, Virginia. Emphasis on the Miss. She did not like being referred to as Ms. Miss Page never married or had children. Instead, she chose to break the glass ceiling in the intelligence community, steadily climbing through the ranks and eventually earning the nickname “the Iron Butterfly.” She retired in 1987 as one of the highest ranking female officer.
Miss Page is not mentioned in my Encyclopedia of the Cold War which I find to be a grave oversight. She is, however, mentioned in Spy Sites of Washington, D.C. which is how she came to my attention.
I tip my hat to this incredible woman who paved the way for other women to lead in intelligence.
On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She was one of the few suffragists elected to Congress, and the only Member of Congress to vote against U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.
It never ceases to amaze me that we have such incredible art right here in my city of Washington, D.C., such as this historic painting of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David. The National Gallery of Art published a wonderful publication about French paintings of the 19th century and can be read here for free.
Zac Possen no more. I feel bad for the employees. They are out of a job overnight and it’s not fair to them. I don’t think CEOs and other corporate leaders really think of the employees when the going gets tough.
I have a new podcast that I love! I just wish I had ten extra hours in a day. There are so many podcasts to enjoy and so little free time.
Anyway, this podcast is called Queens and it’s about women (queens, empresses, consorts, princesses…) in history.
The two hosts are funny with a wonderful rapport and hilarious banter. They make history fun. I do have to warn you, this podcast uses a lot of foul language. If you don’t mind the language, then you are in for a treat. Personally for me, the foul language makes it more relatable and fun to listen to. I feel like I’m gossiping with two friends. Plus I can’t judge, I have a big potty mouth!!
Currently the podcast is covering Elizabeth of Austria (Sisi) but previous women covered are Olga of Kiev, Zenobia, Matilda of Flanders and Empress Wu. All fascinating women, none I ever learned about in school!
What’s your podcast of choice these days? xoxo, Jane
Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie is a fun, nonfiction read about real-life princesses who didn’t have the perfect fairy-tale ending we read (or dream) about.
You think you know her story. You’ve read the Brothers Grimm, you’ve watched the Disney cartoons, and you cheered as these virtuous women lived happily ever after. But real princesses didn’t always get happy endings. Sure, plenty were graceful and benevolent leaders, but just as many were ruthless in their quest for power, and all of them had skeletons rattling in their majestic closets. Princess Stephanie von Hohenlohe was a Nazi spy. Empress Elisabeth of the Austro-Hungarian Empire slept wearing a mask of raw veal. Princess Olga of Kiev slaughtered her way to sainthood. And Princess Lakshmibai waged war on the battlefield with her toddler strapped to her back.
The book is organized in sections by type of princess. The sections are Warriors,Usurpers, Schemers, Survivors, Partiers, Floozies and Madwoman.
As an aside, I find it interesting that some of the women featured weren’t princesses, rather noblewomen or fake princesses (Anastasia, anyone?).
But I learned about new-to-me women such as Pingyang (Warriors), Wu Zetian (Usurper), Sofka Dolgorouky (Survivors) and Caraboo (Partiers). The biographies were not very long. Each princess had a few pages devoted to her, but they were long enough to give me a good grasp of the life and history of the featured princess.
What I love
Everything! It’s a really neat concept with bite-sized chunks of history about real-life women. I love reading women’s history and, in my opinion, there are never enough books on this subject.
The book features special inserts about historical eras or other tidbits, such as “Death and the Victorian Age” and “Seven Warrior Queens of Antiquity.” This is a nice touch because I think it helps place the princess in history. I also love the (few) illustrations.
The tidbits I learned were incredible. I didn’t know that Stephanie von Hohenlohe was part of Hitler’s inner circle. Bad Stephanie!! I think the author really dug deep into the archives to research and write this book.
What I don’t love
Sometimes the author inserted her opinion into the narrative which jarred me out of my reading. Otherwise, it was a completely fun and enjoyable read. History made super-duper fun!
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links, but it’s also ok if you don’t use the links. I’m just grateful you are here and reading my blog. xoxo, Jane