The late Alan Rickman as 'Obadiah Slope' in the BBC Production of 'Barchester Chronicles' by Anthony Trollope
Our local paper the 'Hucknall Dispatch'** encourages us to share stories/experiences and/or pictures with them - so why not plug Angélique in the quest to get the books translated and the series completed in English? Because I am a huge fan of Alan Rickman (I always maintained 'Severus' was innocent!) and especially of his portrayal as the odious 'Obadiah Slope' (in the Barchester Chronicles - pictured to the left) - I thought it timely and topical to write about Angélique in relation to his new film 'A Little Chaos.' I also desperately wanted to include Alan Rickman somewhere in my tribute to Anne Golon and her Angélique because many years ago, together with many of the 'Friends of Angélique' (internet) group we held 'casting couch sessions.' At one point, Alan Rickman was my personal choice for Joffrey de Peyrac.
Alan Rickman as his most august Majesty Louis XIV (centre) surrounded by his courtiers - picture courtesy of Spectrum Now
** and happily the Hucknall Dispatch did not disappoint - here is a condensed version of my article which has a great heading and current picture of author Anne Golon!
As an avid cinema goer I really hope that the long-awaited film ‘A Little Chaos’, due for release next week, is a huge success; not least because it stars Alan Rickman as Louis XIV, the Sun King himself. I became a fan of Alan Rickman after first seeing him giving his inspired (and reptilian) portrayal of Obadiah Slope in the BBC’s serialisation of ‘The Barchester Chronicles’. Did I really use ‘reptilian’ and Alan Rickman in the same sentence? Yes I did and I am sure he drew on that performance in preparation for his role as Dr. Lazarus in ‘Galaxy Quest!’
Talking of quests, I have many, some fulfilled, others not. One great regret I have, is that I will have to see ‘a Little Chaos’ in a Showcase cinema rather than our own Byron Cinema in Hucknall. How wonderful it would have been to see a spectacular costume drama such as this, (echoing the swashbuckling ‘Captain Blood’) heralding the re-opening of this landmark building restored to its original purpose.
My story however is not about the Byron Cinema or Alan Rickman, but rather Louis XIV, the Sun King, most powerful and these days most popular monarch (in cinematic terms) of his time. Alexander Dumas wove several stories around the Sun King giving him a fictitious twin brother held captive as ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ and featuring both Louis and his father Louis XIII in ‘The Three Musketeers’, currently enjoying their own popular resurgence in the new television series.
Louis XIV also plays a central and pivotal part in a series of books written by husband and wife team Anne and Serge Golon. These books were released with the combined author’s name of ‘Sergeanne Golon’ at the time of their original publication in the 1950-70s as it was felt that a book written by a woman author would not sell!
Their eponymous heroine is known to all as ‘Angélique, Marquise of the Angels’. ‘Angélique’ was ushered into our consciousness as ‘Half Angel, Half Devil, Wholly woman!’ After the success of the hardback, the paperback edition announced that this sensational French best-seller eclipsed ‘Forever Amber’ - no wonder so many people erroneously consider the books as ‘erotica’…. Nothing is further from the truth – the books, are historical treasures. Anne Golon (surviving) author is accredited with having written a greater volume of words in her books than Dumas in all of his novels. Dumas was unbeaten in quantity prior to the Angélique series. Anne Golon is considered a world authority on the ‘Wolverine’ a beast she introduced into the books when the action, of necessity, moves to the ‘New World.’
Anne Golon, at the age of 93, is still writing the conclusion to these books and re-writing the originals to include the previous editorial decisions made without her agreement and which she feels have been detrimental to her ‘oeuvre’. The ‘Integrale’ (‘complete works’) is being published in tandem with the original books and fans everywhere are sighing with pleasure over the additional and sometimes new content. The books are also being given a ‘Manga’ style makeover, the first of which was published this month. Last year a new film of the first book was released and at last Anne Golon is being given the recognition she so richly deserves after years in the wilderness.
I was lucky enough to meet Anne Golon in the late 90s and remain in contact with her to this day for a variety of reasons. One is that she has offered me her friendship and trust. We met at a very difficult time for her when trust was not an emotion she and her daughter gave willingly. We met because a tenacious US Marine set up a website where he proclaimed his ‘guilty pleasure’ was reading the Angélique books. As soon as we got access to the internet the first thing I searched for was Angélique. On discovering Harvey’s site and reading with growing amazement that there were others out there (globally) still wanting to know about Angélique I realised I wasn’t the dinosaur that I believed myself to be. I thought I was the only English-reading member of the public that wanted to know the conclusion of the story of Angélique. I am not talking about the book that Anne Golon is writing now – I’m talking about the three books, already in existence that were never translated into English!
That question is still being asked and still not being answered!
My quest in this instance would be to get the missing books translated into and published in the English language – it has recently been achieved with another historical series, 'Catherine', also left hanging dry and unfinished in the 1980s.
As I search for more information I come across many wonderful people, coincidences and little treasures, the latest of which is an original copy of the 1,000th edition of ‘Reveille’ dated 28th May 1959. This is the magazine which heralded Angélique as ‘Half Angel, Half Devil, Wholly woman!’ and contained the first serialisation of the book. I would not have known where to look for such memorabilia had it not been for a friend who put me in touch with an Icelandic newspaper archive which produced a grotty badly over-photocopied cover image from which I was able to search for the original. The actual seller of the magazine lives up the road in Chesterfield and two days after discovering its existence (via Iceland and Switzerland where my internet buddy lives) the 1,000th edition of ‘Reveille’ with the first ever serialisation of ‘Angélique, Marquise of the Angels’ was in my hands and in my ownership!
I have read the three ‘missing books’ Angélique à Québec, Angélique, La Route de L'Espoir and La Victoire d'Angélique in French and Polish and hope to read the as yet unfinished Angélique et le Royaume de France before shedding my mortal coil, but would prefer to read them all in English before that time comes.
Will this article, if published, stir anyone else’s memories I wonder? Even if not published, that's ok I enjoyed writing it!
To highlight the importance of the one thousandth edition of 'Reveille', dated 28th May, 1959 available for the princely sum of 3d (threepence in 'old' money), chose to serialise the original volume of 'Angélique'. They immortalised the Marquise of the Angels as 'Half Angel, Half Devil but Wholly Woman' giving her the entire front cover to herself.
The original cover heralding the arrival of 'Angélique'
The serialisation and illustration on pages 4 and 5
The serialisation and illustration on pages 20 and 21
Concluding on page 22 with a promise of things to come 'Passion and Poison in the Prince's Chamber' and not to forget to 'order your copy now!'
Did he also create the Reveille images?
At this stage I have not yet done any in-depth research, but as soon as the copy of 'Reveille' arrived, I could not help but notice the similarity in opulent style between the book covers identified as the work of Jack Hayes and the not-credited illustrator in 'Reveille' - judge for yourselves with the images below which are all taken from the first serialisation.
Images from within the serialisation
Wonderful attention to detail is paid in these little 'pastiches' (why do the French words sound so much better?) l to r - the children of the 'marshes' and Angélique's impoverished home
l to r Marauding soldiers/mercenaries and some mischief Angélique remembers from her days in the convent in Poitiers
Nicholas and Angélique hiding from the mercenaries in the forest
Page updated : 19th August 2016