Tuesday, May 22, 2012

La Princesse de Clèves

Catherine Delors discusses one of the first historical novels.
The plot is very simple: a young noblewoman, Mademoiselle de Chartres, marries the Prince de Clèves, a man she esteems and respects but does not love. This is not a forced marriage as was all too often the case then, not even an arranged marriage.

Madame de Chartres, the heroine’s mother, is a caring parent, though she is also ambitious and wants the best possible match for her daughter. The husband, the Prince de Clèves, is a completely decent man, very much in love with his young bride.

What is tragic thing here is that the heroine does not even suspect that something is missing from her marriage. She is, in a way, happy in her naiveté.

Her peaceful universe collapses when she meets, and falls passionately in love with the dashing Duc de Nemours. She is torn between her passion and her high religious and moral standards.

I said earlier that Princess is a historical. It has all the makings of one. The setting is the French Court in the 16th century, during the final years of the reign of Henri II. The author lived 120 years later and thoroughly researched the era of the Renaissance. (Read entire post.)

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