“The Confessions of Catherine de Medici” by C.W. Gortner

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Do you ever wonder how things really happened down the history path? As stories were told and told, written and re-written, translated and interpreted, which parts are really true? We will only know it to some extent and that only if we really want to.

I picked up the novel because the author made an effort to find out more than just what remained in the “official” history. He researched the correspondence of those times and letters written by this amazing women, a mother of nine, who survived her husband and 7 of her children, while reigning a country torn apart by bloody religious wars between men who called themselves “Christians”.

Historians chose to depict her as a cold-blooded poisoner and author of the infamous St Bartholomew night in Paris. If you want to learn more and debunk some myths surrounding this famous historical figure, then this novel will take you through Catherine’s tough childhood as an orphan, her ascend to the French throne, her international diplomatic skills, her sacrifices as a mother to save her children and the Valois dynasty, her titanic efforts to bring peace by promoting religious tolerance, her contributions to the French art and architecture, among many many more.

Kneel down and listen

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On a Saturday evening, as I was waiting for my friend, I noticed a jolly trio – a French grandmother with two boys. “Mamie, mamie!”, spinning around her with joy and a blissful ignorance of the world around them. She was their world. They were her world.

Their chatter was incessant, questions followed by affirmations, without any need for answers. They had the confidence of someone who is loved, cherished and treated on an equal footing. I knew why, the moment she kneeled down.

She appeared so well-grounded. Being well-grounded is the greatest gift a parent and grand-parent can make to a child. Something tells me these two boys will turn into well-grounded adults and one day they will kneel down to talk to their kids.

Kids only mirror and give what they receive.

Thank you 2019

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When I was little, year 2000 seemed stellar years away. And now I say “Hello 2020!”

As I finish this year in my kitchen with crème patissière under my nails, I choose a moment of solitude to write down a few thanks to the passing year.

Thank you 2019,

for my new motherhood experiences. It is a 3D of past, present and future. Kids are unattainable teachers. We just have to open our hearts.

for a magic encounter with a new painter – Conny Famm from Sweden at his “Nordic Grace” exhibition. His “State of soul” is divine.

for my privileged and intimate friendships, which are untouched by distance. You know who are.

for my great professional relationships, which evolved into friendships. You know who you are.

for a new and growing sorority of spirits, regardless of our genders and age. We know who we are.

for many brilliant books I read this year.

for “Angel” by MyiaGi, my song of the year.

for a few small traditions I helped create, which continue to benefit those who need it most.

for my Grandmother’s traditions I sacredly follow on our special family occasions. It is my way to keep her in our hearts. Some of them fill our stomachs just fine, which she also loved doing for us, just like this cheese pie.

for the patience of my hubby when he fights his unspoken “You bought again so many!?, as he knows that I will support all forms of women’s entrepreneurship.

for new wisdoms I discovered and share with my daugthers. Here is a selection of my favourites:

  • The story you tell yourself is by far more important than the story other people tell you.
  • There is no truth in suffering.
  • Patience is a virtue few have, and those who have it gain it all.
  • What others say or do is about them. If you internalise it, you make it about you.
  • There are two basic emotions: fear and faith. The choice is yours.
  • Your behaviours demonstrate your values. Choose what you show to the world.
  • Age does not register with those who are busy with good deeds.
  • People who say that they will do it and then actually do it are rare. Be one of rare ones.

Thank you, 2019! Hello and welcome, 2020!

“A gift in December” by Jenny Gladwell

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Cheesy romance are not my thing. Unless they are cheesy-Roquefort-ian.

This novel was perfect for December evenings: a wartime love story of two spies, a journalist investigation, a group of bloggers, journalists and a TV star on a Christmas tree cutting trip to Norway, sharp English humour, a bit of deception and advantage taking, all with a masterly stroke of the pen.