Way back when, back in the Stone Age before Orchid Tour, I promised to fill you in on the heroine of Pink IX, an American named Emma Morris Delagardie. Why an American? And why an American with a French name?
We met Emma very, very briefly in The Orchid Affair. I also shared a tiny snippet from Pink IX, as she criticizes Augustus Whittlesby on his poetic endeavors. (You can find both of those on previous Teaser Tuesday posts.)
Here’s the scoop on my New York Yankee in Bonaparte’s court:
Born Emma Morris, my heroine grew up in Putnam County, right on the Hudson. (And if you’re wondering if she’s related to Gouverneur Morris, the answer to that is yes.) At the age of thirteen, when her uncle-by marriage, James Monroe, was appointed American envoy to France in 1794, Emma made the trip to Paris with her aunt, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, and her little cousin Eliza. Both Emma and Eliza were enrolled in Mme Campan’s school for young ladies, where Emma became fast friends with another pupil at the school,
Hortense de Beauharnais.
And then there was Paul. Just before the Monroes were due to leave France in 1796, Emma ran off with a Frenchman named Paul Delagardie. Emma was fifteen. Delagardie was in his thirties. The elopement sparked an international furor. Disowned by her own family, Emma sought refuge with her old friend Hortense– and Hortense’s mother, Josephine Bonaparte.
It’s now 1804 and that was all years ago. A familiar fixture at Bonaparte’s court, Emma has been widowed for nearly four years. She’s seen Paris change around her and her friend Hortense move from obscurity to daughter of an Emperor. She’s been in France so long she doesn’t quite know what to call herself or do with herself: she’s certainly not French, but she’s not altogether American anymore either.
What’s a person caught between two worlds to do? Other than, perhaps, flirt with a certain ridiculous poet….