Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Madame Royale at the Parc Monceau



Whenever I watch the film Gigi, I watch for the scenes of the Parc Monceau. I am reminded of when Louis-Philippe sought to entertain his cousin the Duchesse d'Angoulême in those very gardens, originally designed for his notorious, revolutionary father Philippe d'Orléans. The Parc Monceau was in the English style, like the gardens of Trianon; while Marie-Antoinette was criticized for her gardens, Orléans was not. According to Wikipedia:
The park is unusual in France due to its English style - its informal layout, curved walkways and randomly-placed statues distinguish it from the more traditional, French-style garden. It also includes a collection of scaled-down architectural features - including an Egyptian pyramid, a Chinese fort, a Dutch windmill, and Corinthian pillars. A number of these are masonic references, reflecting the fact that Philippe d'Orléans was a leading freemason.
Here is an excerpt from the novel Madame Royale describing the meeting in the Parc Monceau of the two cousins whose parents had been enemies:
An outdoor repast was prepared beneath a small, almost intimate pavilion, with few attendants, so that the meal was casual and delightful. Swans glided amid the water lilies on the lake. They conversed about their mutual relatives, and after the dessert, she strolled through the June splendor with him, listening to the anecdotes of the small children he had left behind in Sicily with his wife. She discerned that his mind was on something else and he kept regarding her as if he wanted to ask her something....Then Thérèse found herself combatting subtle feelings of jealousy towards Marie-Amélie, as the complete picture rose before her of what a superb husband and father Louis-Philippe must be, in spite of his leftist political convictions. She realized she was confused, not only by his charm, but by his questioning dark eyes. Annoyance flashed through her. After all, an abyss lay between them, and the shadow of the guillotine. She broke off their conversation rather abruptly, asking for her carriage to be sent for, leaving Louis-Philippe befuddled and offended. She departed rather ungraciously, after coldly consenting to be the godmother of the new Orléans baby, expected in September.

~ from Madame Royale by Elena Maria Vidal, Chapter 13,"Ghosts"
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3 comments:

Matterhorn said...

Wow, talk about difficult family relations. As you know, I love Marie-Amelie (and her daughter, Louise) but I can see why Madame Royale might have had conflicted feelings about her, given the unfortunate events of the past. And it would be all too natural if she struggled with feelings of jealousy towards her- there was poor Therese, trapped in an unhappy, barren marriage, and then, there was her cousin, married into the rival branch of the family, enjoying conjugal bliss and blessed with child after child, one more beautiful than the next. And all the while, Mme. Royale would have known and been worried by the fact that the senior branch of the Bourbons was coming close to being extinguished, opening the door to the liberal Orleans' ascent to the throne...

This isn't meant to sound pointed, or anything, but, on a side note, I've always thought it would be lovely to have a novel about Marie-Amelie. Like her cousin, she had alot of spiritual depth and faced many sorrows with dignity and fortitude. And the fact that she left behind such an extensive Journal would seem to be an invaluable resource in writing about her...

elena maria vidal said...

Matterhorn, that is a good idea and I think you should write such a novel about Marie-Amelie!

Matterhorn said...

Well that is very flattering coming from you:)