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Greer Macallister, bestselling author of THE MAGICIAN’S LIE and GIRL IN DISGUISE. is doing a wonderful series of #womenshistoryreads interviews in honor of WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH. So far she has featured some of my favorite authors like Kate Quinn, Allison Pataki, Sarah McCoy and Heather Webb.

TODAY IT IS MY TURN! Check out our wide-ranging discussion touching on everything from historical graffiti, the bond between sisters (even when they are queens) and how historical women would identify with the stories of today’s #metoo movement.

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Invite Catherine de Médicis Home for the Holidays . . .or Give the Gift of Valois France This Season! Check out the new HOLIDAY TRAILER below and then . . .

Have yourself a VERY VALOIS Christmas by asking Santa for Médicis Daughter, or give the book to someone on your list DURING THIS VERY SPECIAL HOLIDAY SALE! For a limited time only I am offering SIGNED copies of my 16th century page-turner for only $10 each including shipping.

Here are the details:

  • This offer is limited to the USA.
  • Signed copies are $10 each which includes shipping (by media mail).
  • Orders MUST be placed by December 10th for pre-Christmas delivery!
  • Payment will be accepted only by Paypal.

TO ORDER, simply message me through the novel’s official Facebook page and include your name, email address, mailing address, number of books you want, and to whom (if anyone) you want your signed copies dedicated. I will invoice you via PayPal and ship your book (s) as soon as payment is received.

Happy Holidays! xo Sophie

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November is traditionally the season of THANKFULNESS. So just for fun I’ve done a little list of things you might be thankful for if you were trying to navigate (and SURVIVE) the 16th century French Royal Court.

No. 1: That you are NOT Marguerite de Valois, the youngest Valois Princess, because if you were your mother, Queen Catherine de Médicis, would be offering you a dismal string of prospective husbands including: a mad man, an old man who’d already been married to your own sister, a man who hated women, and a notorious heretic. What’s a girl to do?

No. 2: If you are Admiral Coligny you’d be VERY thankful that you bent down to tie your shoe at just the right moment to avoid having your head blown off by an assassin. Sure you lost part of a finger and you were pretty badly wounded, but you are alive! But so fast there Gaspard . . . you’re not out of danger yet!

No. 3: You’ve never slept with the Princesse de Porcien. If you had you might well end up crucified—at least artistically—because this lady (who eventually became the Duchesse de Guise) had the bizarre habit of having former lovers portrayed in her devotional book (her Book of Hours) crucified.

No 4: No one has poisoned you . . . YET.

No 5: You keep a careful hit-list of all your enemies (real and imagined). I mean you never know when a massacre is going to start and you want to be ready. You might not have thought to make a list of your grudges, not to mention the people you owe money too .if it hadn’t been for that secret census of Protestants the authorities complied from the tax roles in your district of Paris (and every other district as well). There is no denying neighborhood hit lists come in really handy once a massacre starts, and is anybody really going to care if some of the folks on yours are good Catholics rather than nasty heretics?

MÉDICIS DAUGHTER because the Valois are sexier than the Tudors (and more dangerous as well)!

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Do you know someone who is looking for a dark read this at this wicked-good time of year? Tell them that Médicis Daughter has cunning, cruelty, bloodshed, betrayal & plenty of things that go bump in the night. Better still, give Médicis Daughter as a trick-or-treat to a historical-fiction-loving friend or make it your own Halloween read.

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a vast majority of writers are rabid readers. We were the kids who used to sneak in from recess and curl up somewhere with a book hoping nobody would catch us. We were constantly being admonished to “turn out that bedroom light and get to sleep,” and now relish the fact that in our own homes we can stay up reading as long as we like. We are devotees of words—the way they can be strung together, their rhythm, their power to conjure places we have never been while at the same time touching on experiences and emotions so intimate that it feels like they can see inside us.

I am no exception. And like most avid readers I’ve spent a lifetime seeking out and cultivating places to disappear into books. I consider these very special, almost sacred spaces: places where the light is right, there is quiet, and there is an atmosphere that encourages deep reading and reflection.

As a girl I spent hours in a hammock in my back yard—generally emerging with legs imprinted by the pattern of the woven rope. These days—perhaps because I live in the metro DC area where heat and humidity are a given for so much of the year—most of my reading gets done indoors. In my current home I have two favorite reading retreats that I’d like to share with you.

First there is our family library. I own more than 300 volumes (not counting my research books, or the books selected by my husband or children). These are books that I felt needed to be present in my home as touchstones for myself and as an easy temptations for my children. Favorites in my collection include: a complete leather-bound set of Dumas (grandfather of historical fiction) from 1893, my first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, an early version of Victor Hugo, and, of course, the tattered volume of the complete works of Jane Austen that I re-read during every single exam period of my educational career.

Some favorite books from my extensive collection

Below are some pictures of the library. One of the best places to get lost in a book is up the ladder in the loft. There is a wonderfully comfortable swivel chair with a commanding view and plenty of light (both natural and artificial) up there. It is quite possible to escape the notice of others in this sky-high reading spot. In fact, I’ve watched my husband come in and out of the room quite unaware of my presence.

The library with its modern, airy feel, isn’t my only sacred reading space. When I am interested in disappearing into the past with a good historical novel (often by one of my author friends), I prefer a more period setting.

Fortunately I’ve created a living room (sans television, obviously) with just the right feel. What I’ve tried to do with this space is conjure the feeling you get when your tour an ancestral home in France or England and rather than the “décor of the moment” you are treated to a layered atmosphere, developed over generations of a family’s presence and many lifetimes of collecting furniture and objects. The room features oil portraits of my children in period costumes spanning 1530 to 1582, old wood made into a bench, oriental rugs, and my favorite reading chair in the house—deep burgundy and covered in Latin. Voila!

This is the place I go to read books set in eras that I write about. And it was in this room that I opened up the boxes containing those always-exciting first copies of my novels including, most recently, Médicis Daughter—a 16th century coming-of-age story of the youngest Valois princess, weaving forbidden love with some of the most dramatic and violent events in French history—a book that Kirkus called, “A riveting page-turner skillfully blending illicit liaisons and political chicanery.” [You will notice the book in the collage above, perched on my delicious velvet pillow-smothered couch].

So those are my existing favorite reading spots, but I have one more dedicated reading space left to create.  Soon I will be renovating an under-the-stairs space into a reading nook. The stairs in this part of my house are dark wood and floating (open tread). The space will absolutely be intimate. If I had the room I’d go big—look at this beauty, though I’d have to have it in dark wood!

But my bench or seat must run perpendicular to my stairs to fit the space (long story involving plumbing) so I only have about 43 inches. I am considering two options. The first is going modern as I did in my library. I love the chair idea below—bookshelves as both the base and the arms of the seat to maximize the ability to always have a good book handy!

Alternately I might keep shelving and reading separate. Arhaus has a great chair called the Nara that would be just the right size and I ADORE its velvety look and the warm paprika color! I would get the legs in chrome not brass (and the good thing is the chair is customizable so I don’t have to settle). Or maybe the yummy Clancy, which would feel like a sofa for one.

I could finish my modern look with some built-in under-stair shelves. I like all three of these, but the one with the branches—while perhaps less practical—is so unique as to be nearly irresistible.

My second option is to go with a more traditional/historical feel. What do you think of this Portsmouth chair in pewter? I am getting a very Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell vibe! The upholstery really appeals to me, and that comfy loose cushion could be adjusted just right for back or arm support).

Either of these console tables in rustic black (both from Arhaus) could totally flesh out the early 18th century feel don’t you think?

So which look would you pursue for the under-stair nook if you were me dear fellow readers—the modern or the historical? Which of my existing sacred reading spaces do you like the best? What does your own special favorite reading space look like—either in your home or in your imagination?

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he main characters in THE SISTER QUEENS, Marguerite and Eleanor, may have been the daughters of the Count of Provence, but much of their real power and attraction as royal brides lay in another family connection. These remarkable 13th century women were related through their mother to the house of Savoy.  The Savoyards were celebrities in the High Middle ages—a family of considerable political and marital power, whose members were renowned for their personal attractiveness.  People wanted to be like the Savoyards, and people (even kings and popes) wanted to be seen with them.

Eleanor had a particularly close connection with her Uncle Peter, Count of Savoy.  In December of 1240 Peter arrived in England to advise and support his niece. Henry III of England took to Peter immediately and made much of him—eventually knighting him and granting Peter the Honor of Richmond.

From this point on Peter spent significant time in England, but ever a Savoyard, he did not sever his relationships with his native territory nor with his powerful brothers. Peter owned the legendary Chateau Chillon on the banks of Lake Geneva. He gained this stronghold—and with it control of the road from Burgundy to the Great Saint Bernard Pass and a fleet of ships on Lake Geneva—beginning in 1234 (when he and all the Savoyard brother’s met there upon the death of their father to negotiate a settlement which recognized Amadeus as the head of the house and allowed them to work together to the aggrandizement of all Savoyards rather than turning on each other and diminishing the house through infighting).

I first visited Chateau Chillon when I was 20 years old. It is a marvelously memorable fortress. Here today are some pictures of “Uncle Peter’s place” courtesy of my middle-child who (in her mother’s footsteps) was there today.

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Pacific Northwest Historical Fiction Fans—in just 3 WEEKS a veritable “Who’s Who” of historical novelists will be assembled in Portland for the Historical Novel Society North American Conference. THIS IS NOT JUST AN EVENT FOR WRITERS.

This year we have a “Readers Festival Program” (check out the program here) and there will also be A MASS SIGNING (open to attendees and non-attendees alike) offering you a chance to chat with dozens of your favorite writers in the historical genre. I WILL BE THERE (I’ve not missed a conference since 2005) AND I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU, ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS AND SIGN YOUR COPIES OF MY NOVELS!!!

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