Madame La Guillotine…

I used to stand at the water’s edge in Boston, squinting, pleading with the powers that be, praying against all odds, for a glimpse of “The Mother Land”. I am speaking of Great Britain, of course. =) Grammie Cracker regaled my youth with stories of Shakespeare, London Bridge, Queen Bess, and the Cotswold until I could fairly smell the clotted cream and lemon curd covering a fresh-baked scone. Devoted to the cause, her niece gathered records for years and presented her with a complete family history, traced back with documentation to 1460-something, and back to the early 1200’s with only a few pieces missing. To a devoted young Anglophile, it was a dream come true, and as I read my way thru half of my family’s history, I knew my romanticized view of England would remain a part of me forever.

Flash forward a decade or two, I am finally holding my own baby girl, stroking her cheek and filling her ears with stories of Cardinal Wolsey, Cromwell, Henry and Anne, the Beefeaters and tea with Her Majesty. She gazed up at me with the proper amount of incredulity, and I knew that even at 3 months, this girl had impeccable taste.

Her childhood was spent playing happily while I read aloud to her all the history books I loved to devour. At age 5, she could hold her own in a conversation about Henry VIII with any adult we knew, and she managed to educate most people who gave her the slightest encouragement. We played Royals, and she would discuss in hushed tones and with eyes wide, how close Elizabeth came to being jailed forever, or killed.

The natural progression in her education was American history, which she hated, and no amount of coaxing would get her interested in those “ingrates” ! Moving back across the pond, she met The French, The Sun King, and the infamous du Barry, whom was promptly declared “that wretched whore”. Moving right along, she fell in love with Louis, The Dauphine of France, and their terrible revolution. Passion was reignited as she explored the french court, the intrigue and the beautiful strength of the common man. Rousseau and Robespierre became her new favorite villains, she read breathlessly about the Jacobins, the National Convention, cried piteously over the execution of Louis XVI. Then came the Reign of Terror, and amidst all the insanity, she was introduced to Madame La Guillotine. What excitement, what horror, what deceit as man gambled against man in the mad race to stay alive in a time when your brother was your enemy and a sideways glance from a friend could mean sudden death. After finding several of her dolls decapitated, I realized it was time to lighten the subject matter a bit, thus came a little romance with the story of Marie Grosholtz, who would become Madame Tussaud. Instead of headless dolls, now her room was filled with scraps of paper in every hue, as she created fashions with which to dress her paper lovelies, modeled after those gorgeous wax creations that made Tussaud so famous.

What prompted this stroll thru the years ? A newish StoryApp tour entitled “Beware Madame La Guillotine” has had me curious since I first heard it mentioned. The app is an exciting and lush time-travel story of the French Revolution, and I cannot wait to purchase it ! It is really a travel app, with treasure hunts, travel tips and maps. There are directions for exploring the Louvre Courtyards, a visit to the Cafe Procope and many other delights. I am looking forward to exploring France with my foxling, and will be using this app to enhance the experience. Off to soak in a hot bath, read some french history, and dream about that trip… =)


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