…an undisguisedly entrenched Francophile and devotee of all things Monet, my Guest Post today comes from dear Authoress friend, Angela Wren, and offers more than a whiff of insight as to how this attraction has become part of her psyche… as an ol’ Jurassic who has never before owned a camera, I particularly applaud her passage about drinking in the sight of the great artist’s WURK sans lens photographie… enjoy:
In Monet’s Footsteps
I’m often asked about my interest in, and fascination with France and the conversation will range through, what has now become fairly familiar territory – the country, the history, the culture and, at some point, the art and my favourite period, the Impressionists. So, it was with great pleasure, some six years ago, that I did not rail against being required in Paris. Someone has to take the pain of being away from home in one of the most beautiful cities in the world! I used this particular opportunity to stay on the outskirts of the city so that I could visit Giverny, the long-time family home of the Hoschedé-Monet family, and subsequently the home of Claude Monet, his wife and children.
I deliberately planned my trip to Giverny for a Friday afternoon and I made sure I arrived at lunchtime, when all the French would be absent. Despite my strategy to miss the locals, which I did, I hadn’t reckoned on the vast numbers of American and Japanese tourists. So, when I did eventually get access to the famous chocolate-box pink house with green shutters, I found myself on the impressionist version of a trip to Ikea. The body of tourists, moving from room to room, were sandwiched together like a pack of Jack Russell terriers moving in uncharacteristic slow motion accompanied by the constant click of cameras. I decided on an anarchical approach and I broke out and moved around the edges of each room, only joining the throng to pass through doors or up and down narrow stairs.
And, as I wandered through the colours of the house, the sunshine yellow of the dining room, the cool blue and white of the kitchen sharpened by the copper pans, I was very much aware that Monet must have spent almost a lifetime doing the same. The panelled Salon Bleu with its white furniture accented with wedgewood blue led into the much larger combined studio and sitting room. The place where Monet spent many years painting.
As I entered this room my attention was caught immediately by a single picture. The walls of the room were covered almost floor to ceiling with paintings, but I saw only the one. A small canvas, about three feet by two, buried in a sea of blues covered by water lilies.
The Strollers ‘The Strollers’ shows a man and woman walking away from the viewer. He is wearing a suit and she a late nineteenth century white dress with dark green decoration. I knew instantly that they had just married. They are walking from the shade into the light and the darkness of the shady foliage is echoed in the decoration of the dress. As the viewer, I could not see her face and could only partially see his because of the pose, but I recognised the happiness in the colours and their future together. I had to stand there for some moments to fully take in the meaning of the picture and having done so I was instantly determined to find a copy, a print or something so that I could continue to look at that picture every day.
In the remaining rooms I made a point of standing at the windows. Monet was a great gardener, setting the planting and often buying seeds, bulbs and plants himself. At each window I was able to see the garden as he would have seen it. Of course he had the advantage in that he could see his garden through every season of the year, whereas I was limited to my one visit on a hot afternoon in early September. Nevertheless, the movement of colour through the spectrum, spread across the different beds and the Clos Normande seemed to echo the serenity of the house.
In the second garden – separated by a road from the main property and garden – I was able to walk through the bamboo and wisteria that surrounded the lily ponds and it was here that, yet again, I came up against the craze for photographs. As I waited patiently, an American tourist moved this way and that to get her shots. Then she stepped forward so that I could move past her. I shook my head. She assumed I wanted to photograph the same spot. I held up my empty hands.
‘No camera! In this beautiful place?’ There was a look of incredulity on her face. I shrugged and after a few more shots she moved on and I took her place on the bridge, breathed in the scent and gazed at the scene, knowing full well that Monet would have stood in that exact spot at some point in his life.
I don’t know what that American tourist would have told her family and friends when she got back to the states. But when I talk about my visit to Giverny, I know that I can honestly say that I have stood where Monet once stood. And I happen to think that’s awesome, and you can’t photograph that!
Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, Angela now works as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. She’s been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. her work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout her adult life.
Angela particularly enjoys the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. Her short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. She also writes comic flash-fiction and has drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of Angela’s stories are set in France where she like to spend as much time as possible each year.
Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.
But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.
Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?
Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
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Goodreads : Angela Wren
…fascinating stuff, m’Lady, Angela… thanks for sharing…
…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!…
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