Monday, 18 January 2021
News with tag Champagne  RSS
From Chateaux to Battlefields: Walking the Paths My Characters Tread

Added: 15.01.2021 2:34 | 6 views | 0 comments


Next to writing, research is my true love. When I stand in the spaces I want my characters to inhabit, I can feel them and see them and bring their lives and their stories out of my imagination and into the structure of words and sentences.

The Hotel Scribe, Paris

To research The Paris Orphan, I started in Paris at the Hotel Scribe, where Lee Miller stayed during World War II and where Jessica May, my character, also stays. The hotel was used by the U.S. Army as the press office, and the hotel’s exterior is largely unchanged from that time.

Staying in the hotel for several nights allowed me to picture more vividly the scenes in my story set there, to see where Miller’s room was, and the view from her balcony. The hotel is very proud of its association with Miller.

A Chateau in the Champagne Region

From there I had the very difficult(!) job of staying in a chateau just outside Reims in France’s Champagne region, just as D’Arcy does in The Paris Orphan. How I suffer for my art!

It was a wonderful experience because I was able to wallow in the richness and lushness of the area. The extraordinarily bright pumpkins that D’Arcy sees from her window are the pumpkins I saw from my room at the chateau, as is the canal, the maze, the plane trees, the potager—or vegetable garden—and the butterflies. From inside the chateau, the black-and-white-tiled marble floor, the salon de grisailles, the boiserie, and the turret all came from the chateau I stayed at.

Crazy Trees—Les Faux de Verzy

I had heard about Les Faux de Verzy, the dwarf twisted beech trees that feature in The Paris Orphan, before I left for France. I was determined to see them, as they captured my imagination. When I told my kids we were going to spend the afternoon walking through a forest in search of crazy trees, they looked at me as if I was the one who was crazy!

But we had the perfect day. It was a little overcast and dark, haunting, mystical, magical even. We found the trees, and they were like something from myth. We all felt as if we were walking through an enchanted forest. As we left, my kids said to me that doing weird research things with Mummy always ended up being really fun! There was no way I could leave those spectacular trees out of the book.

On to Normandy

I then traveled to Normandy, which was a sobering experience. Standing on Omaha Beach, as Jess does in the book, deeply affected me. The beach is so very wide, and I could see the difficulty that any soldier would have had, jumping out of a vessel on the water, traversing through waves to the ocean’s edge, and then having to forge a way across that vast stretch of sand to safety. Almost impossible. I could feel how Jess might feel, standing there, seventy-odd years ago, a witness to the immense and terrible destruction of human life.

I visited the American Cemetery there, and then drove to Sainte-Mère Église, where there is a museum dedicated to the paratroopers. I knew little about the intricacies of battles and battalions, so seeing a mannequin dressed in a paratrooper’s uniform, plus all of the eighty kilograms of equipment they carried, and studying the maps of their campaigns and victories was hugely helpful in allowing me to better understand Dan Hallworth and what he might have faced.

In the museums of Normandy, I saw a lot of the equipment used by the soldiers and the personal items carried by them, which helped me to recreate life as it could have been: everything from U.S. Army jeeps and tanks, to long-tom guns, packs of Lucky Strikes, ration chocolate, Scott paper, and tins of Marathon foot powder—all of which appear in the book.

I was also able to see the accreditation papers, passport, uniforms, telegrams, diary, and war correspondent badge of Virginia Irwin, one of the female correspondents, at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, England. These were all items Jess would have required, so it was wonderful to view them.

And then it was time to leave Europe and to try to write down the story that was occupying all of my thoughts. It’s my favorite of all of my books. I truly hope you enjoy reading The Paris Orphan as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you.

For photographs and more, visit my blog on natashalester.com.au.

Give Your Next Book Club Meeting a Taste of France

Added: 15.01.2021 2:08 | 6 views | 0 comments


When D’Arcy arrives at the Chateau Lieu des Reves, she doesn’t shy away from indulging in the homemade pastries and food prepared for guests.  Whether it’s that first dinner with Josh or the romantic picnic they share—there’s always something delicious on the menu in France. To create your own decadent French picnic, Natasha Lester has some suggestions: Tarte Tatin: an upside-down pastry with fruit (often apple) that is caramelized in butter and sugar before the tart is baked. French Baguette: a classic French loaf of bread characterized by its long, thin shape and crispy crust. Paté: a paste, pie or loaf consisting of ground liver with a variety of other ground meat (pork, poultry, fish) combined with herbs, spices and either wine or brandy.  A platter of different types of paté served with slices of baguette will allow guests to sample different tastes. Cheese: like the paté, creating a platter with a few different flavors and textures of cheese makes for a nice tasting experience served with the baguette.  Some popular French cheeses include Brie, Gruyere, Roquefort, and Chevre. Chocolate Tarts: a type of custard tart with a mixture of dark chocolate, cream and eggs are poured into a sweet pastry shell and baked until firm. Macarons: sweet pastries made with almond powder or ground almond, they come in a variety of flavors denoted by different colors and types of filling.  Note that macarons are different from the macaroon, which is coconut based. Palmiers: pastry in the shape of a palm leaf or heart.  They are also known as French Hearts or Elephant Ear among other names. Cherry Clafoutis: a type of tart consisting of a sweet custard batter mixed with ripe cherries and baked.  While cherries are the traditional fruit used in this dish, other fruits can be substituted. Champagne or wine is always a good choice to pair with any of these treats and plentiful around France.  But if you’re looking for something a little bolder Natasha has shared her favorite recipe for a Manhattan.

2 oz. Whiskey 1 oz. sweet vermouth 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Serve with a twist of orange

From: www.moon.com

A British Man Got Drunk On Christmas Eve And Legally Changed His Name To Celine Dion

Added: 02.01.2021 8:56 | 19 views | 0 comments


A British man with a love of singer said he was a bit tipsy as he watched her television concert on Christmas Eve and made a life changing decision to change his name to hers.
As the reported, the former Thomas Dodd said he has always listened to Dion when he needs cheering up, and while watching the holiday concert decided to pay $122 to have his name legally changed to . But he was a bit too deep into champagne and said he later forgot about doing it. A few days later, he came home from work to find an envelope with legal documentation about his new moniker.
"I wasn't aware I had done it until I found that envelope in my post," he explained.
"Initially, I had to sit down as I couldn't believe it — so I then checked my bank which confirmed it all."

From: feeds.inquisitr.com

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