Saturday, January 30, 2010

Giveaway: Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table: Tragic Romance in Literature

O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
After reading O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell (my book review), I had a wonderful feeling of love and romance that enveloped me. The story of Romeo and Juliet created by Shakespeare is very familiar, with the sudden and fervent love that blossomed between the two doomed teens, but of course their tragedy is not unique. What is it that makes their love a tragedy? Social forces tried to push Romeo and Juliet away from each other, but their love had hope to overcome society's boundaries. Juliet by John William WaterhouseThe reader has trusted their hearts to the story, blindly hoping for a blissful ending. But, in the end, the couple didn't live to enjoy their love and the reader is left with a sense of loss and we are bereft because of it. Here I chose several stories that are either true stories or the stuff of legend. Both types have inspired works of literature and artwork, such as this painting shown by John William Waterhouse, titled Juliet.

Paolo and Francesca is a true tale made famous by Dante's Inferno, Book One of the Divine Comedy, and is mentioned in Robin Maxwell's novel O, Juliet as well. Francesca da Rimini (1255 – 1285) was tricked into marrying someone else, which made the intended Paolo to be Francesca's brother-in-law instead of the husband she wanted him to be. They are reading the love story of Lancelot and Guenevere (pic at right) Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) and become intimate and when they are caught, they are killed by Francesca's husband. Francesca thought Paolo had escaped the room but he was stuck by his jacket, yet Francesca let her husband through the door thinking he had safely escaped. Francesca was killed by the rapier as she tried to stop her husband from harming her precious Paolo. She died in vain.
Paolo & Francesca: A Tragedy in Four Acts was written by Stephen Phillips and was first performed in 1902.

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle MoranLiterature has brought us several stories such as this, although perhaps none so widely known as Romeo and Juliet. A true story is Egypt's Cleopatra and Marc Antony, and is highlighted in Michelle Moran's recent novel, Cleopatra's Daughter.
It is stated somewhat simply that when the couple were fleeing the Roman Octavian, they committed suicide once they realized that they could never escape. Michelle Moran took this a step further and created a dramatic death scene in front of their twin children, and this was at the beginning of Moran's gripping novel which continued through the eyes of their daughter Selene which never did quite let go of your heart. What was so tragic between Cleopatra and Marc Antony? Marc was a Roman himself, Cleopatra was the Egyptian Queen, making quite a pair of attempting to unite countries and build a prosperous empire. As the author puts it, once Cleopatra learned that Marc was losing the battle, she sent word that they themselves were killed. She wanted Marc to save himself, and not risk his life any further by coming for his family. Of course Marc is heartbroken when he hears this news, and he stabs himself. The soldiers bring him back to his family where Selene watches her father die, and then her mother the Queen makes one last important decision as she poisons herself with an asp (poisonous reptile). A wonderfully told story and I doubt one will ever compare to Michelle's telling of this tragic and true story.

Arthurian legend is focused on the story of King Arthur and Guenevere, which was seemingly a love match. Author Rosalind Miles has written a series with these characters that begins with Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country. The image of Arthur evokes images of knights in shining armor, and undying love. Yet, his lovely wife, Queen Guenevere, falls in love with Sir Lancelot and they were caught in the act, much like the previously mentioned Paolo and Francesca. Arthur condemns Guenevere to burn at the stake. In Miles' book, Morgan is Arthur's half-sister who has returned to claim her rights, which forces Arthur to make the choice between Morgan and Guenevere.

Twilight of Avalon, Book One, by Anna Elliott
A story that I have only just begun is the trilogy that is in the works by Anna Elliott. Her debut novel, Twilight of Avalon, (May 2009) focuses on the love that is forged between Tristan and Isolde. The second in the series releases May 2010 and is called Dark Moon of Avalon. An earlier telling of the love story is Tristan and Iseult by Joseph Bedier who retold the story as he contrived it through earlier French poems. How Elliott's telling will relate to the accepted legendary story remains to be seen, but the first story impressed me greatly so that I have purchased another author's trilogy regarding the couple of Tristan and Isolde, by Rosalind Miles.
In Anna Elliott's first book, the setting is much more understated and is not made to be a tragic romance from the start. Isolde is Modred and Guenevere's daughter; Modred being Arthur's son, and Guenevere being the same woman who was in love with Lancelot as depicted above. Elliott's story does have a thread of romantic undertones in the first book but it is just a factor of respect rather than the reknowned unrequited love between Isolde and Tristan. It definitely has the chivalric tones and the added magical elements with Morgan's scenes while it leaves out the legend of Lancelot. As the thing of legend goes, the very legend changes from source to source..Dark Moon of Avalon, Book Two

One is that Tristan and Isolde fall in love, but Isolde is wed to Mark of Cornwall. Tristan is banished, Isolde pines for him, and she is eventually sent for by Tristan because he is deathly ill. Tristan is married to Iseult by this time, who lies to Tristan and tells him that Isolde is not coming to him. He dies, and Isolde indeed comes. They both die of grief, yearning for the other.

The rumor is that Meaney Dee Morrison has written Iseult's story in its truest form in her case, although includes more sorcery. There was the movie (the heart stopping gorgeous James Franco is perfect in this as Tristan) that has Iseult married to Mark, and Tristan and Mark are close friends.
Tristan and Isolde, 2006 movie
Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography by James BurgeA true story comes to us via Heloise & Abelard: A New Biography by James Burge. Pierre (Peter) Abelard, (1079-1142) heard of the great beauty and wisdom of Heloise (1101-1164), whose uncle was Canon Fulbert. A story of religion and love, and tragic consequences, the two fell in love despite the 20 year age difference. The two have a son. The uncle was incensed when he discovered the affair, forced them apart, and ended up castrating Peter Abelard. The lovers corresponded through letters, and were forever after separated after being married to the church. Heloise gave up her son and was forced into a convent, although she did eventually become successful there. Author James Burge published his biography on the couple in 2004 using just recently translated letters between the two. There were a few letters throughout time that existed which kept the story alive, but with the 113 letters now released the legend came alive again. Among religion, duty, reproach and regret, the letters relate the hold of the power of love had on Heloise even at moments she was worshipping God.Abelard and Heloise French Scholar and Nun Embracing in the Scriptorium by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale The once separated couple now rest eternally together, and even though they were buried together initially, they were moved several times throughout history until Josephine Bonaparte had their remains moved to a cemetery in Paris where their tomb is now an attraction for modern day lovers.

Love is what makes the world go round. It also makes it tremble, weep, and jump for joy. It inspires. The tragedies that come with love should teach us to never take anything for granted. And unfortunately, some of the tragic love stories cited above became tragic only because someone else said they should not love each other. The feuding family, the angry uncle.. but sometimes, it is just not in the stars for some. Romeo and Juliet shall always be here to inspire lovers, readers.. romantics.. along with these other lovers mentioned. And for that, I am grateful, as we also now have the first ever fictionalized account of the traditional Romeo & Juliet, with Robin Maxwell's newest novel, O, Juliet. All the world needs is love, love, love.
Ford Madox Brown: Romeo and Juliet, 1867.

This week has been the O, Juliet Tour.. please visit the main website for the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table to see the other reviews and related posts for this event. There has also been some fabulous giveaways, so be sure to check out the calendar of events at the main HFBRT site.

Do you want your own copy of the book O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell?
To be entered for the random drawing you must do the following:

Enter your name and Email address here telling me who your favorite Literary Lovers are. (This is your primary entry which is mandatory)

It can be anyone of your choosing, either mentioned here or not.

Extra Entries: +1 Become a Follower (*current followers please tell me if you are)

+2 Post the Graphic link of the Book's Cover to this Giveaway post on your blog's sidebar

Giveaway ends February 12th. OPEN WORLDWIDE!!!!

58 Witty Commenters Here:

Linda said...

Very interesting post. Several of the books you mention are on my TBR and your blog has inspired me to pull one off and start reading. My favorite romantic couple, strictly fictional, is Scarlet and Rhett. I would love to win a copy of O Juliet. Thanks for the giveaway. And, I am a follower.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Great post! I just added a few of these books to my wishlist. As for my favorite literary lovers, I'm on a bit of a Bronte kick right now, so I'll say Cathy and Heathcliff.

+1 Follower


Linda Henderson said...

Well, I've got to say the tragic Romeo and Juliet followed closely by Scarlett and Rhett.

I am a follower.

seriousreader at live dot com

fredamans said...

My favorite literary lovers are Sir Hugh Douglas and Jenny Easdale from Amanda Scott's books.


fredamans said...

Current follower via Google connect.


amanda18228 said...

My favorite couple is Scarlett and Rhett.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

amanda18228 said...

I'm a follower.
amandarwest at gmaildotcom

Ms. Lucy said...

Don't enter me, Marie- but you just had to know I was going to comment on this fantastic post! It's absolute divine- and I love the way you made assiciations to all the great lovers of time. And- yes, R&J have to be the most famous and most memorable of all.
I was so excited to see the painting from John William Waterhouse..because his exposition nis presently here in MOntreal at The Museum of Fine Arts!! I'm supposed to go sometime this week. Also, I had no idea about the book on Heloise and Abelard...Remember I wrote an article about them?
Lastly, I also wanted to get into the Avalon trilogy- and now I,m sure I need to read it. Thanks for this fabulous post, Marie- it made my day!

Robin Maxwell said...

What a fantastic post, Marie! I always say, "You learn something new every day." And by reading this post I learn enough great stuff about great lovers and books about them for a week" I especially enjoyed seeing that painting of Juliet, which I'd never seen before. And I, also, loved the "Tristan and Isolde" movie with James Franco. This reminded me I need to order it on Netflix and watch it again. Thank you so much for embellishing the O, JULIET experience for me and everyone else.

holdenj said...

What a wonderful post. I think one of my favorite literary lover couples has got to be Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth. I was especially intrigued by the Elliot trilogy. Looks like I'll have to check out Twilight of Avalon soon, before the next one arrives. O, Juliet looks fabulous, thanks for the chance to win!

Kristen said...

Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, Claire and Jamie, Scarlett and Rhett. All of them are marvelous but I also love Kathy and Mike from Mrs. Mike.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

+1 I am a follow through Google.

Jo-Jo said...

What a great post! I think I will have to go with Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Jo-Jo said...

I'm also a follower.
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

What a thoughful post. I'm already a follower, my favorite is Jamie and Claire, with Darcy and Elizabeth coming in a very close second. Honorable mentions: Scarlett and Rhett and Jean Paget and Joe Harmon.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Oops I forgot, my email is ktleyed at gmail dot com

Pricilla said...

I would say Edmund Dantes and Mercedes. Ripped apart at the beginning of their love story. He finds love again but she only finds it through her son.

I would love to win this book.
I follow :)
and the image is up at
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Laura Hartness said...

My favorite literary lovers? many. I hate to be unoriginal, but Darcy & Elizabeth would be #1. But I have others not far down the list:

**Cinderella & Prince Charming
**Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe
**Henry DeTamble & Clare Abshire (Time Travler's Wife)
**Richard Collier & Elise McKenna (Bid Time Return)

I'm a follower of the blog

I've posted the book cover linked back here on my blog sidebar:

Thanks for the chance to enter!

Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic
CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

dolleygurl said...

A great list Marie - I agree with all of them!

Anna Elliott said...

My baby takes a long enough nap for me to (finally!) stop by your blog--and you're mentioning my book! How's that for wild?! No spoilers, but the second and third books are definitely much, much more romance-oriented than the first. And I will say that I decided to do a retelling of Trystan and Isolde because I'd always found it the most utterly irritating of the Arthurian legends . . .

Laura Hartness said...


Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and letting me know the side bar's link was bad. I changed the pic, but not the link!

I've got it all fixed now. Thanks again for hosting the giveaway!

Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic

Muse in the Fog said...

Beautiful post, I loved every bit of it. Please enter me :)
I'm a follower too.


Carol W. said...

My favorite fictional lovers are Rhett and Scarlett.


Carol W. said...

I follow your blog.


Beth (BBRB) said...

I'm going to go with Scarlett & Rhett. Tristan and Isolde were lovely in the movie!!

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

Beth (BBRB) said...

I'm a follower.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

lizzy J said...

Delightful post Maire. I have the Guenevere books but have yet to get to them. Twilight of Avalon is on my Amazon wish list. I have heard really good things about it.

I posted Sundays art early this week and I featured the Waterhouse and Madox piece you have here.

Great post Marie.

Michelle @ The True Book Addict said...

Please don't enter me as I already won the book from Robin!

I just wanted to comment on your wonderful post. I have the Guenevere books by Rosalind Miles and some of the other ones you mentioned, but I definitely want to check out the books by Anna Elliott. Thanks Marie!

Mystica said...

What a detailed wonderful post. I will have to be most unoriginal and go for Elizabeth and Darcy.


Mystica said...

I forgot to mention I am a follower


Spav said...

My favourite literary lovers are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.

+1 Became a follower


Sam said...

Samantha S Email:
Besides Romeo and Juliet I love Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet!!!

+1 for being a follower

librarypat said...

Patricia Barraclough

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

My favorite couple would be Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy.

I am a Follower.

Emma said...

My favorite fictional lovers are Rhett and Scarlett.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, darling. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

teabird said...

I'm a follower - and my favourite literary lovers would be Les and Bessie Glass from "Franny and Zooey." You don't see much of them in the novella, but their influence is powerful - not to mention to sacred chicken soup!

teaburd 17 AT yahoo dot com

Sue said...

I'd have to go with... this is hard! I loved the whole drama between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in The Other Boleyn Girl.
Thanks for the giveaway.

s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Marci said...

I love Catherine and Heathcliff's love from Wuthering Heights.

june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Cat said...

So many lovely pictures - thank you, great post.

Reminds me of a book I read many years ago abour Heloise & Abelard and their tragic love so I'll choose them as my favourite lovers.

I'm a follower.


Thanks for the opportunity .

Holly said...

Scarlett and Rhett for me too :)

I am a follower.

buddyt said...

I am a Follower.

This book has the most visibility I have seen for a long time all over the blogosphere.

I must say from reviews it seems it deserves it.

Please enter me in the giveaway.



buddytho {at} gmail DOT com

buddyt said...

Sorry my choice:

Anthony and Cleopatra.

She especially was a fascinating woman.

Amanda said...

I think I would say Hawkeye and Cora from The Last of the Mohicans. Although I am saying this strictly from the movie. I've tried reading James Fenimore Cooper before and got bogged down by the description of EVERYTHING.

Thank you!!!

Denny, Alaska said...

I'm a "Gone With The Wind" fan, so I'll list Scarlet and Rhett as my favorite.


ibeeeg said...

What a fantastic post!! You did such a fabulously job. I enjoyed reading every bit of it as it was so very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to write this post.

My favorite lovers would be Jamie and Claire.

I am already a follower of your blog.


h said...

I'd so love to read this book.

tradingaddress at gmail dot com

Laura Hartness said...

Please remove me from the running for the copy of O, Juliet. This morning I won a copy of it on Lucy’s website, Enchanted by Josephine.

Thanks again for hosting the giveaway!

Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic

devonaz said...

Oh what a wonderful post..I have added alot of these to my reading far as my favorite fictional couples it has to be Emma and Mr Knightly right now as I am watching Masterpiece theater of Emma,,and loving every minute of it..thanks again,,
hanna_563 at msn dot com

Jenny Girl said...

I have lots of favorite literary lovers: Rhett and Scarlett, Darcy and Elizabeth, the couple from the Notebook, Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.

I am a follower too. :)
Thanks for the lovely contest as always Marie!


Gwendolyn B. said...

Marie, what a wonderful post! Thanks for writing it - I learned a lot and enjoyed myself, too!

I've always had a soft spot for Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. I haven't read Dorothy Sayers in years, but I remember how much I liked them.

Thanks for the chance to win a copy of O, Juliet. It will be a real treat.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Kelly said...

My favorite literary couples are Elizabeth and Darcy, Anne Eliot and Capt. Wentworth, Margaret Hale and John Thornton, and Jane and Mr. Rochester. I love classic couples; they know what real love is-forget Bella and Edward! I'm a follower. Please enter me!

Gwendolyn B. said...

Posted on my sidebar at

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

409cope said...

I would have to go with the obvious and say Romeo and Juliet are my favorite romantic couple. cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I follow through google friend. cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

Wanda said...

I would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks.

Wanda said...

I just became a follower of your blog.

~*Ruby*~ said...

My favourite is Antony and Cleopatra. After I've read Cleopatra's Daughter, I realized their love was true!

Please enter me in the giveaway :)

rubs.escalona [at]

Amy said...

This is a beautiful post! There are many literary lovers but one of my favorite pairs is Emma and Mr. Knightly from the Jane Austen book "Emma"!

Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com

Amy said...

I am a follower on Google Friend Connect and through Blogger Dashboard!

Aimala127 AT gmail DOT com