Beyond the Pale


The Secret Diary of a Princess: Marie Antoinette novel at a BARGAIN price, snap it up!

If you only do yourself one favour today, let it be you snapping up the brilliant must-read historical novel The Secret Diary of a Princess by Melanie Clegg (Kindle edition) for the bargain price of £2.30 from Amazon UK or $3.69 from Amazon US.

If you’d like to read an excerpt – the moment when Marie Antoinette meets Madam du Barry for the first time – head on over to Melanie’s blog, and read it there.

Portrait Of Madame Du Barry by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

Now, you may well raise up your skirts and be ready to squeal that you don’t have a Kindle, well neither do I, but I downloaded the free Kindle App for iPhone (I believe you can also get them for other brands of smartphone, anti-apple people ;p) for just such occasions as this (snapping up copies of favourite books for delayed travel emergencies & moments when you simply must have a bit of historical fiction to read, in order to escape from dreadful reality).

You’ll also be happy to hear that it’s published in the usual book format, too, for £7.99. All reassuringly papery and everything. So, that’s all bases covered and everyone’s happy. 🙂

Portait of Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun

The secret diary of the title belongs to the young Marie Antoinette, and in it we discover her innermost thoughts whilst viewing the turbulent events that shape her life. It’s immediately engaging, incredibly well researched and yet wears that research lightly, almost incidentally, because we become friends with her, we hold her hand and gaze – as she does – in wonder at the overwhelming brilliance and the spectacular world she becomes part of. This is history with a distinctly personal touch, and as a reader you are genuinely saddened when it comes to an end – you feel you have lost touch with that friend and are desperate to hear from her.

A young Marie Antoinette by Jean-Étienne Liotard

I wasn’t quoting “brilliant must-read” by rote from anywhere, by the way. I happen to know it’s brilliant and a must-read firsthand, being lucky enough to have read it previously, before it was properly published. However, I am so excited about the fact it’s now available for Kindle (and at such a reasonable price), that I have purchased it and mean to re-read it again very soon – the perfect antidote to tedious train journeys or vapid lunch-hours.

Still from Sofia Coppolas film, Marie Antoinette

As an avid perfume fan, I was entranced to read Melanie’s descriptions of the heavy musk and jasmine in the air – indeed, the whole book is a sensory delight, with descriptions of food, drink and perfumes working together to create an intoxicating, heady experience for the reader entering this world. One stumbles out of it all slightly dizzy, wishing for the swish of taffeta and the smell of beeswax and hot chocolate all over again. I happen to match perfumes to my moods – depending on what I am reading and how I feel generally. Some may think that slightly peculiar, but I assure you it’s not at all uncommon in the world of us perfume-obsessives! 😉

For this book, the first time I read it I chose the beautiful Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez® – because, really, you couldn’t not, could you? I still love this perfume though haven’t worn it for a while – I must re-visit it soon! I first fell in love with it at quite an inappropriately young age (it’s a fragrance of… experience, shall we say) and just the thing for a book such as this. You can read my review of Bal a Versaille at Fragrantica, by the way, in which I wax lyrical about the scent and describe it in greater detail (scroll down, my username there is Miss_Nightingale – and many more excited fans of the perfume have added their reviews since mine, I’m glad to see!)

Today I am also wearing a suitable perfume (I think, anyway) for the era and ambiance this fictionalised account of Marie Antoinette’s early years creates. Although it’s distinctly a modern fragrance, Ormonde Woman, by Ormonde Jayne perfumes, begins in a heady puff of Black Hemlock absolute (usually associated as a poison!) infused with cardamom, violet, jasmine, vetiver and a woody-amber drydown that’s all powdery, soft and veritably dripping with sensuality. I was lucky to be treated to a bottle of this by my fiance, recently, and it’s simply sublime! I certainly feel as though I should be wafting about a candlelit ballroom with it on, or applying rouge and carefully placed patches whilst a maid powders your hair.

Whether it’s a totally wonderful historical novel, or a decadent new perfume to try whilst reading it, I do hope you’ll enjoy it – I know I did!

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