With only a week and two days to go until the release of The Garden Intrigue, here are some fun facts….
— The heroine of The Garden Intrigue was originally named Eliza rather than Emma. Her character was based off two real life Elizas, James Monroe’s daughter Eliza Monroe and Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide. But it just didn’t work for her. Somewhere over the course of the first three chapters she became Emma and Emma she stayed.
— Like my fictional Emma, Eliza Monroe attended Mme. Campan’s academy for girls with Napoleon’s stepdaughter Hortense de Beauharnais. Stephanie Barron and I have joked that we should write a series about “The Girls of Mme. Campan’s” because, during the Consulate and Empire, having gone to Mme Campan’s with Hortense was a sure-fire path to fortune and favor. Many of Josephine’s ladies in waiting and the wives of Napoleon’s marshals were Mme Campan girls– many of whom met their husbands during those long weekend parties at Malmaison that Emma reminisces about in Garden Intrigue.
— I made Emma’s maiden name “Morris” because I’ve always had a huge historical crush on Gouverneur Morris, who was, among other things, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Minister Plenipotentiary to France during the Revolution, and, of course, a New Yorker.
— I have a bad habit of “borrowing” names from other sources. (Some of you may have noticed that Donwell Abbey, Mr. Knightley’s home in Emma, also pops up in The Masque of the Black Tulip.) In this instance, I named Emma’s first husband Paul Delagardie. I couldn’t quite remember where I’d heard the name… and by the time I remembered that he was Lord Peter Wimsey’s uncle, it was too late; Emma’s Paul was Emma’s Paul and couldn’t possibly be any other name.
— Emma’s memories of her childhood home, Belvedere, and the surrounding areas were drawn from my own deep attachment to the Hudson Valley, particularly Putnam County. I gave her cousin Kort a munitions factory in Cold Spring, my own summer town.
— While writing Garden Intrigue, I listened to a lot of The Weepies. Their combination of upbeat and sweet suited Emma perfectly.
More coming soon….