Is the author who brought Angélique de Sancé de Monteloup, later Countess Peyrac to the imagination of hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide. This is not an exaggeration - her own publishers, J'ai Lu used the popularity of the novels to tell new readers that the books had been translated into 25 languages (and were currently available in their entirety as published by themselves) and their reputation enhanced thanks to a screen adaptation of these best sellers! (I'd argue that the films basked in the glory of the books not vice versa!)
Who could guess that a cheeky young thing would one day meet, and be able to count Anne Golon as a friend - it all started here :
This is a letter I wrote to my sister on what looks like the 13th of June 1967, which would have made me 15 at the time - the moot reference is "I didn't get any rev(ision) done 'cos of that Angélique thing. It's quite good on the whole." How's that for an early review?
A lovely card, showing the 'love' for me and the Eiffel Tower!
Greetings from Paris, signatories include 'Me' (my friend Anna), Nadia (Anne's daughter), Régile (illustrator), Anne Golon, Harvey J Adkins, his wife Gail and daughter Emily!
Will be celebrating her 90th birthday in December 2011 - I know that my sister Marysia, my husband, Andrew and I will all be raising a toast to this remarkable lady who, even today, continues the onerous task of repairing the damage done to her original oeuvre (see the Intégral section). Her husband, Serge, died some years ago and since then it has been left to Anne and her daughter Nadja to keep the saga alive.
The evidence obscuring whether or not this is the last or latest adventure of the eponymous heroine.
I have mentioned her husband by name as many English readers will have first come across the Angélique books as written by 'Sergeanne Golon' - many believed this to be a brother and sister team once it was explained by the publishers that the name was an amalgam of Anne and Serge. Only the English speaking public were asked to accept this amalgamation with Serge's name preceding Anne's - everywhere else in the world the books were always under the authorship banner of Anne and Serge. Today, of course all the books are re-printed bearing only, appropriately, the author's name - Anne Golon.
(A variation of my tribute to Anne Golon who is approaching her 90th birthday later in the year - December 2011)
Is an incredibly generous woman, I have several dedications in my books all of which were written either for me whilst I was with Anne or sent to me as a gift - I cherish them all. The example shown below - is the original dedication Anne wrote for me on the occasion of our meeting, in Versailles, for the first time .
I'm very happy to be able to translate for you the very personal dedication that Anne wrote :
"Versailles - 19th October 1999
For Anna, of (from) Nottingham who granted me the great pleasure of visiting me whilst I was in Versailles.
It is a great comfort to me to know that she is continuing to read my life-long oeuvre.
It was a great honour for me to be permitted to meet Anne on that auspicious occasion, the more so because I had to walk for miles from the train station to the secret location that had been chosen by her daughter Nadine. If that same journey had been offered to me today I should not have been able to manage the walk and so would never have experienced first hand meeting this remarkable woman or been given the opportunity to cherish these very special occasions.
I share all my experiences with the official English speaking Yahoo Group fan base (Friends of Angélique) because many of those involved would never get such an opportunity and without having found the group, neither would have I. Recently our president, Joyce Murphy set up a Facebook account which, it is hoped, will add to the fanbase, strengthening the case for a review, translation and hopefully republication of the Angélique saga.
The story of my personal 'Road to Versailles' is reproduced below :
(My) Road to Versailles - Part 1
In 1999 I had the privilege of meeting Anne Golon - twice.
The first time was to be introduced to this great author, and happily I must have made a good impresseion as the second time around I was treated like a member of the family.
'Awesome' is a newly popular word, often used and overused by people today to describe an event that has deeply touched their lives or something that has made a lasting impression on them. For me, meeting Anne was indeed awesome.
My career history includes a long spell working for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and in theatre. Daily, I rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Louis Jordan, Michael York, Jenny Agutter and Stephanie Beecham. I am no stranger to great authors either. I was a close friend of Robert Holmes (Dr Who fans will know the name) and my producer, Louis Marks was a renowned scholar before becoming a scriptwriter for the BBC and eventually a producer responsible for many successful dramas. My first producer at the BBC, Gerald Savory ended his professional career producing the ineffably wonderful 'Mapp and Lucia' series and Irene Shubik, the only woman producer I worked for brought 'Rumpole of the Bailey' to the silver screen. I have also worked regularly with several popular science fiction/supernatural authors - one of whom was Brian Hayles, a colleague who also became a friend. A completely different genre of authors included Rumpole of the Bailey creator/author John Mortimer and Andrew Birkin (brother of Jane), so why was meeting Anne Golon any different?
Since 1980, when the last of the English translations, entitled 'Angélique and the Ghosts' (a really erroneous translation of the original title 'Complot des Ombres' meaning 'conspiracy of shadows' had been published), I had been floundering, trying to understand why there had been no further translations of the books. I knew there were at least three others out there, as I had bought them in the French original and that had got me to wondering whether or not the remaining co-author was still alive. (The sleeve of the J'ai Lu editions had told me that Serge had regrettably 'disparu' several years earlier).
The image reproduced above gives a very short biography of Anne and Serge, refers to the amalgamation of the fictitious forename, mentions the passing of Serge and refers to Anne as a 'widow'.
Through the late Harvey Adkins' web-page, I discovered I wasn't the 'dinosaur' I had believed myself to be - and that there were, in fact, many others who wanted to know what had happened to Angélique after the last English language publication, Angélique and the Ghosts, with its wholly inappropriate paperback version cover portraying Angélique as some sort of slut, had appeared on the bookshelves.
When my first meeting with Anne took place in October 1999 it was only eight short months after I had first scoured the internet for information about Angélique. Now here I was, suddenly sharing space, drinking coffee and breathing the same air as this marvellous woman. The difference is that Anne Golon agreed to meet me rather than us to meet in controlled circumstances, which bring together people who would not otherwise, ordinarily, have met. She granted me the privilege of her time and presence and it is that that makes everything so awesome and remarkable.
I travelled with a companion and close friend, Anna, whom I also needed for translation purposes. We were met by Anne's charming daughter Nadja and after a while Nadja simply stated "She comes" and Anne Golon and a colleague entered the hotel reception.
The precious never-to-be-forgotten moment had arrived.
Physically Anne is tiny, but she exudes an energy and a genuine inner strength that I have not seen in a person for a long time. She came in - very professional, very businesslike, no frills - greeted us, made herself comfortable and was immediately ready for 'work'. When you've been gearing yourself for this moment, preparing questions, getting yourself really together so as not to waste precious time, what happens? You fall apart - I fell apart and could not think of one question I wanted to ask!
Nothing escapes Anne, I think she was surprised at the enormity of my nerves as she had been informed by her last publishers that there were no new fans of her books, that interest had waned and she and her heroine were considered passé; luckily the advent of the internet changed all that and she suddenly found herself dealing with people like me - FANS! Nervous as KITTENS! In AWE! With consummate ease, the professional took over and Anne prompted little things to start the conversation flowing. She took a personal interest in things that were being said, that led to confidences of a personal nature being exchanged, which in turn led to other subjects or linked to familiar territory.
All in all, the conversation, once it started, flowed and never stuttered. There were areas of her life that Anne particularly wished to share with us, so that we had an accurate picture of her situation. She was very generous in helping me to understand certain areas of the last three books which have never been published in English but which I have read in French. Some of my misunderstandings caused amusement, but were clarified with patience and generosity. When it was time to end, I found we had been chattering away like a group of old friends at a reunion.
Anne remembered, however, that photographs had been requested, and orchestrated the various poses. A wonderfully touching moment during the photo session was the emergence of Anne the mother - she told Nadja to tidy herself up for the photo. Looking back, Anne the mother came over quite frequently during the time we spent together, but with such subtlety, that you didn't realise it until later. The farewell was quite different to the introduction, which had been a neat handshake and reserved smile. This time there were hugs, kisses and broad grins. We had had a ball.
This photograph shows me in the centre, Nadja to my right and Anne to my left - I make no apologies for the hairstyle! (Mine that is) - The two books on the table in front are the Pan versions of 'Angélique and the Sultan' and 'Angélique in Love' (Nadja took one look at that cover and pronounced, with a certain amount of scorn, that Angélique looked like 'Heidi.' ('Do you know that book?', she asked me). Actually I was a bit crushed as I had chosen that book cover for my personal dedication and Sultan, which is my sister's favourite book, was to have been inscribed to her - as it happens none of it matters as I ended up with Sultan and my sister got Heidi!
The bouquet of flowers that Anne is holding are from me. Anne herself wanted them included in the photograph as she was so touched at (what she called) my kindness. For me, it was a courtesy, I should never have dared to go visiting a famous author I had revered for many years without taking some token of respect. I have never visited Anne Golon since without taking flowers!
For the second meeting I took my sister Marysia (pictured with Anne, left) along with me because I still needed a translator and because for the first time in many years we were taking a short break together.
We were late, having missed the earlier train, and when we started across the platform I was looking for Nadja, never considering for one moment that it would be Anne herself who was waiting to greet us. I finally spotted her - remember, she is tiny and everyone getting off the train that day was definitely over 6 feet tall! Anne immediately came forward towards me with a big grin and gave me a huge hug. Trying to be polite, I was stammering "Je vous presente ma soeur, Marysia" and Anne twinkled - she does that a lot - and greeted Marysia as if she had known her all her life.
The two of them were chattering away when I finally spotted a colleague of Anne's and we strode down to a nearby café. Out came the illustrated books pre-ordered by the Fans of Angélique which Anne proceeded to sign as I would be taking them back with me to disseminate, just asking a few pertinent questions for each dedication, which she remembered from what had been said at the October meeting. She wanted to confirm that she had remembered everything correctly. This remarkable woman has no equal.
I do enjoy observing people, and this time rather than being a major participant I just sat down and watched everyone's faces and reactions - all very readable despite not being able to understand every word that was being said. I really ought to improve my French - in fact, one of the parting shots aimed at me was that I should study French so that I could join in more at our next meeting!
At this time, Anne asked and then commissioned my sister to translate one of her books 'Angélique - La Route de L'Espoir'- not bad for a first meeting, but then that is Anne. I think she has a unique gift in her ability of being able to read people. That perhaps is why, after all these years, she has a following and loyalty (for an author who has technically been out of print for some years) which is second to none. Why else would you, dear reader, be reading this web page otherwise?
The above article as is appeared in 'The World of Angélique' website (somewhat foreshortened)
“Anne Today” – by J Anna Ludlow
In 1999 I had the unprecedented privilege of meeting Anne Golon twice.
The first time was by way of introduction and the “granting of an audience” – the second time I was treated like a member of the family. “Awesome” is a newly popular word often used by people today, to describe an event that has deeply touched their lives or something that has made a lasting impression on them. For me, meeting Anne was indeed awesome. My work history includes a long spell working for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and in the theatre. Daily, I rubbed shoulders with the likes of Sir John Gielgud, Louis Jordan, Michael York and Bob Hoskins. I’m no stranger to great authors either. I never worked with him but became very close friends with Robert Holmes (”Dr Who” fans will know the name). I have also worked regularly with several popular Sci-Fi/Supernatural authors one of whom was Brian Hayles a colleague who also became a friend. Then a completely different genre of authors included “Rumpole of the Bailey” creator/author John Mortimer and Andrew Birkin (brother of Jane) – so why was meeting Anne Golon any different? Since 1980 I had been floundering, wanting to know why there had been no further translations of the books (I knew there were 3 others as I had bought them in the French original), and wondering whether the author was still alive. Through Harvey Adkins’s page, I discovered I wasn’t the ‘dinosaur’ I had believed myself to be – and that there were, in fact, many others who wanted to know what had happened to Angélique after the last English language publication, Angélique and the Ghosts.
When my first meeting with Anne took place in October 1999 it was only eight short months after I had first scoured the internet for information about Angélique. Now here I was, sharing space, drinking coffee and breathing the same air as this marvellous woman. The difference is that Anne Golon agreed to meet me rather than us to meet in controlled circumstances, which bring together people who would not otherwise, ordinarily have met. She granted me the privilege of her time and presence and it is that that makes everything so “awesome” and remarkable. I travelled with a companion and close friend, Anna, whom I also needed for translation. We were met by Anne’s charming daughter Nadja and after a while Nadja simply stated “She comes” – the moment had arrived. Anne Golon and her good friend Iva had entered reception.
Physically Anne is tiny, but she exudes an energy and a genuine inner strength that I have not seen in a person for a long time. She came in, very professional very business like, no frills, greeted us, made herself comfortable and was immediately ready for “work”. When you’ve been gearing yourself for this moment, preparing questions, getting yourself really together so as not to waste precious time – what happens? You fall apart – I fell apart, I could not think of one question I wanted to ask! There the professional took over, Anne prompted little things to start the conversation flowing. She took a personal interest in things that were being said, that led to confidences of a personal nature being exchanged, which in turn led to other subjects or linked to familiar territory. All in all, the conversation once it started flowing never stuttered. There were areas of her life that Anne particularly wished to share with us, so that we had an accurate picture of her. She was very generous in helping me to understand certain areas of the last 3 books which have never been published in English but which I have read in French – some of my misunderstandings caused amusement but were clarified with patience and generosity. When it was time to end, I found we had been chattering away like a group of old friends at a reunion. Anne remembered, however, that photographs had been requested and orchestrated the various poses. A wonderfully touching moment during the photo session was the emergence of Anne the mother – she told Nadja to tidy herself up for the photo. Looking back, Anne the mother came over quite frequently during the time we spent together, but with such subtlety, that you didn’t realise it till later!
The farewell was quite different to the introduction - which had been a neat handshake and reserved smile – the farewell was hugs, kisses and broad grins – in truth we had had a ball. For the second meeting I took my sister Marysia along with me, because I still needed a translator and because for the first time in 20+ years we were taking a short break together! We were late, having missed the earlier train! We started across the platform and I was looking for Iva, never considering for one moment that it would be Anne herself who was waiting to greet us.
I finally spotted her - remember, she is tiny and everyone getting off the train that day was definitely over 6ft tall). Anne immediately came forward towards me with a big grin and gave me a huge hug. Trying to be polite I was stammering “Je vous presente ma soeur, Marysia” – Anne twinkled - she does that a lot - and greeted Marysia as if she had known her all her life. The two of them were chattering away when I finally spotted Iva and we strode down to a nearby café. Iva produced some illustrated books which Anne proceeded to sign just asking a few pertinent questions, for the dedication, which she remembered from what had been said in the October meeting. She wanted to confirm that she had remembered everything correctly. This remarkable woman has no equal.
I so enjoy observing people, and this time rather than being a major participant I just sat down and watched everyone’s faces and reactions – all very readable despite not being able to understand every word that was being said. I really ought to improve my French – in fact, one of Iva’s parting shots was that I should study French so that I could join in more at our next meeting next year! At this time, Anne asked and then commissioned my sister to translate one of her books – not bad for a first meeting, but then that is Anne – I think she has a unique gift in her ability of being able to read people. That perhaps is why, after all these years, she has a following and loyalty (for an author technically out of print) second to none.
Why else would you, dear reader, be in this web page otherwise?
(My) Road to Versailles - Part 2
I’m calling this Part 2 because I’ve already written one opus and because I could not think of a better way of paying tribute to our great author than to use one of the titles of her books (which incidentally is my favourite set in the 'Old World') so I have decided to continue the theme here. Also, by chance I have discovered that there is one set of books where indeed Road to Versailles is divided into more than one part.
For many years now, I have been visiting Anna N in Paris regularly. For the last couple of years I have also had the privilege to meet regularly with Anne and Nadja. This years added bonus was meeting Brigitte – whom many of you will also meet next week! Brigitte and I have been corresponding frequently on a variety of subjects and had got to know each other’s tastes and foibles fairly in-depth. Particularly we have in common – apart from Angélique – cats, gammy left legs and a love of all things ridiculous. That’s not to say we haven’t discoursed on serious subjects as well. Even before meeting I knew I had met a twin soul and the enthusiasm with which Brigitte joined in for the book hunt and then producing that marvellous auction web-site was breath-taking. (In the early days, as the Fans of Angélique learned more and more of the difficult situation in which Anne Golon found herself, the group aimed to raise funds to offer Anne a more festive Christmas than she would otherwise have enjoyed.) One of the ways we raised money, some might consider this a paradox, was to search out and re-sell second-hand volumes of the Angélique series - hence the web-site Brigitte produced so that the members could view the books available. It proved very popular, supplementing 'missing' or 'worn out books' or just offering alternative covers!) In some cases, having lugged the books to Paris, several of the books were signed by Anne - our picture shows her cat Boopy, inspecting the workplace prior to the all important signing commencing!
Looks like a Russian magazine also features Anne with her 'manager' Boopy
On this particular visit , I had arrived in Paris late on Wednesday night and my baggage consisted of books, several British items Anna had requested and some clean underwear – there wasn’t room for much more – I’d have loved to have been stopped by the Police again – (I was ready for them this time as well, had my own Police ID card with me) – to have seen their faces if they had insisted on seeing the contents of my travelling bag. Oh yes, I was also carrying a very purple teddy bear (from Boston, Mass.) who was accompanying me to visit with another purple stuffed toy that resides in Paris – don’t ask!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On Thursday we met with Brigitte at St Michel and had a ball – remember this was the first time Brigitte and I hadmet in person!
Friday – the Road to Versailles Part 2 began. In the morning Brigitte came over and we sorted out all the books we were taking over to be signed by Anne. We then divided them into 3 bags ready to lug over to Versailles – it wasn’t too bad. When we arrived at the station it was a beautiful day – warm, sun shining – almost a late summer day rather than an onset of Autumn day. So, we stopped for coffee – Anna N and I had been casting voting on the various coffees we were having at various cafes and this one came out on top – it was positively delicious. Not known for our punctuality (and we are now infecting Brigitte as well) – we actually sat down to have the coffee when we really should have been at the Archange offices!
This image shows many of the books taken over to Versailles for signing by Anne for re-sale on the internet auction set up by Brigitte.
Refreshed, we sauntered up the wide avenue which actually leads to the Chateau of Versailles itself. Unfortunately, not having horses, nor being in a carriage, we veered to the left (for pedestrians) and so did not have the full phenomenon of approach. (Actually when I was very small I got told off by a gendarme just about right outside the Palace gates – but, as Mr Kipling rather succinctly tells us – that is another story and has no place here – but I have to say, since Mother ran to my rescue [knowing not a jot of French] – it’s a memory of her I particularly treasure!). Sorry! OK by the time we got to the top of that delightful avenue, it felt like we were climbing Kilimanjaro and I was puffing and panting away and wishing I could throw my (by now) extremely heavy bag of books over a wall somewhere. At the palace wall we turned left and the road thankfully started going downhill. We were all three isolated from each other by now – Brigitte striding confidently ahead, Anna N and myself trying to have a conversation but finding it difficult as we were in single file and turning would have meant falling over ourselves or something equally ridiculous (and we don’t need any excuses!). About half-way to our destination (even though I did not know that at the time) I thought I heard someone hollering “Hey you! Friends of Angélique” – but put I down to being de-hydrated and it was really a ringing sound in my head that I was formulating into words. Then following the clip-clop of footsteps I did hear “Hey! Stop! Friends of Angélique” – so I did – stop, and of course Anna N walked straight into me and as I tried to point behind her I naturally clipped her head with my elbow (believe me, I paid for that later!). Nadja had spotted us and was desperately trying to attract our attention, Anna N had heard nothing and Brigitte was blissfully pounding ahead oblivious to anything! (I’m not surprised, we realised later she’d got the heaviest bag!)
Such a pleasant surprise to see Nadja and we all greeted each other in the street and then she led us to the offices of Archange where Anne was waiting to greet us – it was so delightful, because after grabbing the dogs and greeting Brigitte she asked if the “two Annas were here” – and we kissed and hugged and generally behaved like children. We were thankful to drop our loads and Anne was very anxious to ensure that Nadja did something with the slips (proofs?) of paper that she was holding which, I think, were some re-writes. Anna and I shot over to the bookstand and started oohing and aahing over various covers we had not seen whilst Brigitte, Nadja and Anne had a grown-up conversation (dogs leaping up and down permitting) and I was then seduced by this absolutely gorgeous ginger person who was most discerning about what we had bought (he wasn’t even miffed that it wasn’t food! – such an intelligent animal!).
And so we set off for lunch – up the road (of course) and a short way down the hill (why is it always that way round?) and went to suitably regally-named restaurant (Bridge you’ll have to help me out I’ve forgotten!) to eat. The restaurant was quite charming – shame the same can’t be said for the Maitresse d’ – but at least before she began her shenanigans she took our photo. When I realised I couldn’t order anything and it was explained to her that I was vegetarian – she obviously considered me a creature from outer space and sniffed that she did not know if there would be time to make me an omelette. Nevertheless, the omelette arrived and I have to tell you it was delicious.
From left to right : Anne N, Nadine (Anne's daughter), Me, Anne Golon and Brigitte.
Refreshed, replete, Anne led us back to “work” – that is to her “work” as she was so enthusiastic and anxious to sign the books! We got back and she looked at the piles which Brigitte had dexterously arranged and the individual signing of reserved books got under way. My apologies to Anne at this juncture as I understand she hates having her photo taken with her specs on! Anna and I continued to fuss the animals and gander at the books in wonderment whilst Anne very assiduously wanted to know about each person who had purchased a book from the auction. We filled in what we knew about everyone and it was very touching to see how interested she was in all that we could tell her about the various individuals.
Oh yes, I forgot – earlier we had played a little trick on Nadja – for those of you who read the original Road to Versailles will know that I love my book covers – but Nadja does not quite share my opinion of them – particularly my favourite (in terms of faces) – “In Love”. As I had a spare of this version, and we were to learn later that Anne had not seen many of the covers before, Anna N, Brigitte and myself all signed a dedication in the front of it for Nadja as a keepsake. We then (actually I use the word “we” loosely – Anna N did it – she has a gift) wrapped the book in beautiful silver tissue with curly bits for decoration – it looked splendid. We mentioned to Anne what we were proposing to do and she twinkled her agreement. At lunch, I called for silence (in French) and that in itself brought them all to a halt and simply said “Un petit cadeaux pour Nadja” – Nadja’s face spoke her surprise and I took pity on her and told her she may yet not thank us for it – and when she saw what it was the look of surprise (happily) changed to mirth as she understood the reason!
OK – I digressed (but you know me) – one of the reasons that reminded me of the book is that Marijana (in Australia) had sent a photo of herself toasting Anne (remember at Christmas?) and had her books spread in front of her. The book she was holding, was of course the “Heidi” image that Nadja so detests – so we showed Anne the photo and explained the reason behind it – and that has now gone to Marie Robb for inclusion in the album we are preparing for Anne to show our support. The explanation of Gerry being know as “The Yuletide Kid” was also rapturously received as Anne signed his book. Gerry had also written a poem for her and she wanted a simultaneous translation at once! Michael she recognised immediately and stated “the musician?” And so for over two hours she carefully dedicated each book with great care, attention and interest often intercepting the information wanting to know more or in greater detail what we knew of that person. Throughout she consulted Nadja and Brigitte as to what was acceptable. But in truth, she looked tired on completion and we did not press for her to sign all the others for the auction that did not need personal dedications. She then again, went through the covers, marvelling at some, commenting on others – all completely valid. As they do not possess many of the English version ones, we extracted copies of all of them and gave them to her to add to her collection – it was rather nice that we could do that – which is why the auction was suddenly so depleted!
Nadja had to leave us then and after a little more chatting and the feeding of the animals – isn’t that just too great – our great author, whom we all hold in such high esteem – trots off to the kitchen to feed the animals – for me that was such a touching moment you cannot imagine!
We then trotted off (to the top of the hill – of course!) and went for coffee next door to the restaurant we had been into for lunch – we sat outside (had the garden-patio area to ourselves) as it was still glorious despite being fairly late in the evening. Whilst sitting there, Anne suddenly asked who had designed the “Friends of Angélique” logo. Brigitte gave me away, I wouldn’t have owned up if we’d been alone, but I added that the idea of the herb in the centre was the groups preferred choice. She was interested in two things mainly, why the idea of the sunburst and the choice of lettering used. I told her that it struck me as an obvious choice to link the Sun King in and that the script resembled the writings of the time and many of the English-version titles on the books. She nodded at me and just said “I must show you something tomorrow.” After that, we parted company after Anne led us to the front of the chateau and made us marvel at the unique “pink glow” it was covered in as a result of the setting sun. We made sure she had crossed the road safely, she turned and waved and we all went home.
There was a magic moment on our way home – as we crossed the Alma bridge, we all stopped to light cigarettes and for some reason I took longer than the others and Bridge and I just turned at the stroke of 8pm to look at the Eiffel Tower – I can’t tell you what we saw as it will spoil the surprise for those going next week (you can tell when you recount your stories) but Anna N would not stop teasing us for the rest of the night – both Bridge and I stopped stock-still and our mouths fell open in wonderment. Anna N was splitting her sides (and very nearly those frail ribs of hers) at the sight of us agog!
The next day we went over to Versailles again – this time only Anna N and myself as Bridge had to go to work (imagine!). We met with Nadja to start with, we were supposed to be sorting some things out, but we never got round to too much of it as we were chattering away about all sorts of things and then I was despatched to hook Nadja up to the e-mailing list – which is why you’ll have received the test runs in their name but with a please ignore message signed by me! There – how many of you wondered what was going on? Now you have your answer – mystery solved. We had forgotten why we were there and Nadja suddenly announced that she was going to ring Anne to come down with the manuscript – of course! I’ve been nagging (yes nagging) Nadja for this thing so that Marysia could continue translating, and here I was about to walk away without it! Whilst we waited for Anne I also armed myself with a few copies of the Illustrated book, so I now have them here at home if anyone wants to purchase! Anne arrived – complete with manuscript and we chatted about a few things in general and then she pulled out a small book – I’m not sure what the books was about, but if was obviously one she uses as a point of reference and showed me what it was she was reminded of when she looks at the Friends of Angélique logo. There are 2 examples she showed me, but said that it was very much the flavour of the time. The first was a herbalists list of his “stock” (I suppose) and it is produced in a half-circle with the individual names listed in the sunburst style. She was most anxious to make sure that I could see how close the script (font) style I had chosen resembled the actual copperplate (?) writing of the time. Then she showed me another example of a table place setting also presented in a similar manner. Then, I was gob-smacked (apologies for the expression), she took out her Honorary membership card (to compare) from where she always keeps it – in the same pochette as her identity card, thus she has it with her always. I was so touched I nearly cried. Well enough bragging – shortly after that we said our farewells again and we went home.
The rest of the visit was loads of fun, Brigitte gave up a lot of her time to spend with us and on Sunday we went to her place for a delicious lunch and there met Elaine Hannah who is now resident in Paris. Once again, another member of our fast-growing group to meet and get to know – although I’m afraid it was all too much for Brigitte’scat who mauled me (I told you I’d pay for catching Anna N the day before), that wasn’t my only punishment, during the course of the visit Nadja’s elbow found various parts of my face twice, later when we were having a quiet drink in an outside bar a woman waving a French stick saluted my head with it – then in a restaurant whilst I was eating, a woman leaving the table behind ours knocked her chair into mine and sent my nose into my food. I’m all bruises!
Eh voila – one other “fun” occupation was looking for Angélique books in Paris – Brigitte was picking them up by the bucketful in one area of St Michel – even I found one eventually – but the funniest thing is, that there is an English second-hand bookshop near Notre Dame called 'Shakespeare and Company'.
In this picture you can just see Brigitte in the forefront with another bag full of 'Angélique' booty.
Stepping out onto La Route de L’Espoir
You may wonder why I have chosen to use this title for my latest record of recent events. For those who don’t know me or are new to the group you will also not know that the very first time I wrote an article about meeting Anne Golon I called it Road to Versailles – as a tribute to this marvellous author but also because it was, literally my road to Versailles. It was where I first met Anne, her daughter Nadia and her good friend Iva Garo whose name you may recognise as the illustrator of the new Angélique books.
To refresh your knowledge of events or even for those of you who are finding out about this for the first time, some weeks ago it was announced to both of the fan clubs French-speaking and English-speaking that the first two books of the long awaited Intégrale [full and unabridged] version were to be launched at the Salon du Livre in Geneva, Switzerland. I looked at the dates in amazement as Day 1 was my birthday – some sort of kismet going on here surely – Angélique – the Return on my special day? In that case I was determined to make it special, turned to that old stalwart the internet [without which none of this would be happening today] and booked a hotel and flight within minutes – oh yes, I gave my husband Andrew about 3 minutes to decide if he’d like to come along for the ride before I pressed the final OK button.
By the morning of 27th April, Andrew and I had already cracked the public transportation in Geneva – it is remarkably easy to use the trains, trams, buses and trolley buses especially if you get a daily “rover” ticket which lets you connect with the majority of areas in Geneva. All the routes are straightforward and clearly marked – it didn’t stop us going off in the wrong direction at the start of most of our journeys, but then that’s probably due to the fact that in the UK we drive on the other side of the road! After breakfast we decided to explore the old City and I desperately needed to find a florist – I always take Anne flowers as a mark of respect.
We took a bus in the vague direction of the old town and then hopped onto a tram for a stop or two and ended up in a quaint square with cobble stones that had a bar that Andrew had wanted to find and a florist in the centre with a beautiful array of ready-prepared bouquets. After a beer or two we chose the flowers and then made our way to the Salon du Livre at the giant Geneva Palexpo stadium right by the airport. In essence we could have flown in, visited Anne and flown out again on the same day, but that wouldn’t have been quite so much fun! We had absolutely no idea where we were going or what to expect so we entered the huge complex and went through what looked like a proscenium arch leading to some escalators which took us to a sort of security check – the man took away our invitation [that would have been a mega-disappointment, but Nadia had let me have a spare which was safely tucked away at the hotel] and we entered a world of paintings and lithographs and pictures – but no books.
We also arrived at the time when it seems all the students and schoolchildren had been given some sort of quest or project as they were swarming everywhere clutching clues – perhaps they were cracking the Da Vinci code? We eventually went down into the main hall where there were books and headed towards the reference Nadia had given me for their stall – only it wasn’t there. Had we come all this way just to give up now? Not on your life – we don’t give up that easily, but we also had about 10 kilos of books for Nadia and I really don’t think I could have asked Andrew to carry those back with us. 10 kilos of books – that’s heavy – our total baggage only weighed 16.6 kilos when we had it weighed at the airport. So what’s the 10 kilos of books got to do with anything you are asking? Well it does sort of tie in with this whole concept of taking those first steps on the path to hope.
Like many English-speaking fans, I wanted to know what happens in the 3 untranslated books and like many others, bought the books in French and read them “after a fashion” – actually I did better than I thought, but more about that later. With the advent of the internet [thanks again ol’ buddy] and the internet auctions I decided to be brave and play the Polish auctions and search the Polish 2nd-hand bookshops on the net. I found the majority but not all of the books and bought them in dribs and drabs – then I was looking for a book for my Father and just clicked on my usual searches and saw melting away in its last seconds an auction for the entire set – I was too late! But I was determined not to give up, the auction may have ended, but no-one had bought the set, so I contacted the seller and the deal was struck. I then, on receipt of these books, read them just as fast as I could. With the exception of Countess [Nouveau Monde] all the books have the “abridged” sections reinstated, so I read about Angéliques’ attempt to run away to America as a child, what happened to her in the abbey, I read about a character that is completely missing from the English translations and I read the last 3 books – it was then I realised how well I had understood the French versions as it was only in Victoire that I go tied up in knots, but the Polish version made all of it clear. OK so I now had two nearly full sets of the Polish version and in fact 3 copies of Book 1 and Route de L’Espoir. Brigitte collects Book 1 in as many languages as she can so one of the books was allocated and my sister grabbed the spare of Route. I offered the books to a friend in the States who was also keen to read them and only asked him to reimburse the postage costs but he decided even that was too expensive. Later a friend in Devon asked if I had any spare books in Polish as a colleague of his was very homesick and he thought this might cheer her up. The books went off to Burgh Island in Devon. From there I asked Gary to send them to Anne in Versailles as she really ought to have them – he did, but for some reason they were returned to me in the UK marked “addressee unknown”. Even now Nadia cannot explain why that should be so. The books have been in my porch from that day until the 26th when they were packed to go over to Geneva and now they had made it as far as the Palexpo and to Nadia and Anne they were jolly well going to go. Andrew left me with the flowers, the books and our other paraphernalia and went off on a recce – he was back within minutes, Anne, the new books and everything else was just a couple of aisles away.
No sooner had we turned the corner that we were spotted and greeted with effusive enthusiasm. Nadia grabbed me and said I had not changed [we have not seen each other for 5/6 years] – Anne immediately stopped what she was doing and came to greet me and be introduced to Andrew. Iva was also in the booth as were two Swiss ladies who are part of Sandrines’ French-speaking group. From that time until the end of the afternoon the timetable was the same – there were people who had deliberately come [as we had] to share in the joyful re-birth of Angélique and Anne’s success – but the really interesting ones were those just casually sauntering by – realising what was happening, eyes popping out as if on stalks and stammering “It’s really you – Anne Golon - isn’t it?” Anne never stopped beaming the whole afternoon, she had time for absolutely everyone – she spent at least 20 minutes with each fan [yes, there were queues], Nadia and Iva looked after the others who were waiting.
Anne used the time to get to know the fans so that the dedication she wrote in each book was not only personal but also appropriate in every way – whether it be the spelling of the name or perhaps mention of something that was in particular relevant to them both. She did us the great honour of telling all her fans that we had come especially from England, that she had known us many years and that my sister Marysia was translating Route de L’Espoir. In turn she told us a little of some of the fans’ stories including one young lady, probably in her very early twenties, who had already read the entire series 10 times – Anne was duly impressed with that fact. There was one lady who came with her mother and we found a polyglot common language – she had read the books in Italian, I in turn showed her one of the Polish books and she asked me if I could read “this” – Polish can look very weird to anyone who does not know any Slavic tongue. A truly international gathering and I think everyone there appreciated the significance of having not only the author present but also the added bonus of both the illustrator and architect/orchestrator of the Intégrale. Two magazines L’Illustre and L’Hebede had covered the story and in particular L’Illustre did a big two-page spread doing justice to Anne de Golon. One slight error, as Nadia pointed out, they missed off a zero on the number of books they quoted as having been sold – they say 100,000 but we all know the truth : 1,000,000 ++ And so the afternoon drew to a close and we started to make our way out – I had thought that Anne, Nadia and Iva might have decided to stay on until 7pm but they said they would leave with us as they wished to have a birthday drink with me. I was astonished and very proud – but we had one little adventure before we sat down to raise our glasses. We became separated between the Palexpo and the railway station – we had instructions to meet outside in case of separation. Andrew carrying Anne’s flowers, Anne and myself got to the station and Anne led us down to the waiting area.
In the meantime Iva and Nadia had become convinced that Andrew had kidnapped Anne. Now that would indeed have been an adventure, or as Andrew said – a great souvenir of the day! I promise we did not kidnap Anne, but we did, all 5 of us sit down and have a drink – during that time, we mentioned you dear Harvey – because without you that day would not have happened and I would not be in a position to share it with everyone – nor would I have received my nom de guerre of Ghostslut.
This is a tribute to you Harvey, who are on your own route de l’espoir and to Anne Golon for whom this is just the first step to full restitution. My apologies to you all if you consider there’s been a bit too much “I” or “we” but that’s how it was for me and I hope you can share my enjoyment. I shall have more photos later in the week which I shall add to the album when they arrive – including a picture of the flowers.
Road to New England
Four years ago, my husband Andrew and I visited New York and New Orleans and we knew we would return to New Orleans sometime in the future – 3 nights there had not been enough. Two years later, we were to visit Miami and spend 7 nights in New Orleans. Our second choice for that year was Boston, but we tossed a coin and Miami won. We very nearly decided to give Miami a second try, but decided that Boston had its own merits and if we were to visit the United States again, we should see somewhere new. Andrew’s interest in Micro-Breweries would be well assuaged in the New England area. I thought of Boston in terms of my all-time favourite soap “Peyton Place” and decided I could rummage around and try and find out what I could about New England gossip. I also find “Murder She Wrote” a refreshing and charming programme, so I was already getting enthusiastic that there would be plenty for me to see and be interested in apart from the local historical interest of the infamous Tea Party and Bunkers Hill. In Nottingham where I hail from, we have a Bunkers Hill public house named in honour of the historic site and which, of course, is a Real Ale pub. I also adore Richard Hooker’s “M*A*S*H” series and since Hawkeye is a Maine Man and the TV series gave us the unforgettable Charles – who of course was from Boston - I had enough to be going on with – Boston it was!
Little did I know, that between the 2nd and 3rd trips, I would not only re-read the whole Angélique series, reminding me that the latter books are set in the New World and eventually New England, but that I would also find a group of people who like myself, were wondering why the final 3 books had never been translated into English. I had devoted time since 1984 on this quest, right down to reading the last 3 books in French and discovering to my cost that it was very obvious that this was not yet the completion of the series …
My mind started ticking overtime and I looked at the locale of New England and discovered the Salem was not too far away from Boston – this particular location appealed immensely, both from the historic “witch” angle and the fact that one of the untranslated books begins there – I decided to follow in the steps of my heroine.
In February 1999 I joined the onelist group of devoted Angélique fans after having done my first “search” on the Internet for Angélique + Golon and hitting on Harvey’s page – what a joy! By November 1999 – Joyce, Laurie, Marie, Patty and I were planning a social gathering in Boston, New England for May 2000! The time was set for 10.30am, Thursday, 12th May 2000 in the lobby of the Copley Square Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts. And it happened!
Andrew and I got down to the lobby just before 10.30am as essentially we were the “hosts” and it would not have done to be late. The extraordinary thing about the Copley Lobby was that there were 2 giant portraits of 2 New England luminaries which took over the wall by the reception desk. I had only spotted the night before that their name was LUDLOW!
Marie and her delightful 2-year old daughter Irene were the first to arrive. We tried to settle down and introduce ourselves and have a little chat, but Irene had different ideas – she had spotted the little bags of mementoes I had brought with me and was determined to open everything in her mothers. That lasted for a few minutes as we chuckled at her antics – so anxious to rip open everything that had been carefully packaged and brought over (in trepidation) in a suitcase (which luckily managed to stay with us). No sooner had we exchanged a few pleasantries, ideas and notions, there was a great flurry by the main door and a disembodied voice came forth “Anna?” – Andrew had only just returned with the first lot of coffee/drinks order. We all stood up and Laurie, Patty and Joyce made their entrance – it looked as if they had bought up the whole of Quincy market – but no, they were bringing their original and thoughtful gifts to us. We took up the whole lobby, packages everywhere, oohs and aahs as the secrets in the packages were revealed, joint topics shared, giggling and poor Andrew trying to find somewhere to put down the second order of drinks. A little later, we felt it moot to relieve the hotel and go over to Quincy – as we tumbled out (all packages discreetly taken to our room for the time being) and strolled to the T-Line we talked and chatted and swapped partners and chatted – conversation flowed. At Quincy we met up with Joyce’s husband Dan and went for lunch – there was a lovely restaurant which had a first-floor table just about big enough to take us all in. Naturally, as the only smoker around I had to keep dipping out to have a cigarette. After lunch, Marie had to leave us, which was a shame, but Irene had priorities. It was at this time that Joyce offered again, for us to stay with her overnight if we were all to go to Salem, such unbounded generosity, Andrew was comfortable with the idea and so we agreed – just as well as it would have been a very long haul for Laurie to have come back into Boston to pick us up and go on to Salem from there. I take this opportunity to thank Joyce for her wisdom in the matter. Dan and Andrew went off on their pub-crawl and we went off to shop till we dropped. Eventually we stopped for a drink and then off to the shops again. Conversation flowed continually, Laurie had a photo taken with a Harley Davison, I tried to “phone home” but couldn’t get an international connection, and we went for another drink. This time in a pub-type bar where we had a window seat and watched – not the world go by – but people trying to park their cars in a relatively easy space. The major problem was caused by a chap who couldn’t move his car due to a flat battery – we knew what was wrong and tried to discourage him from turning over the engine as it wasn’t helping the battery any. After being offered a free tattoo service, since we had finished our drinks, we decided to move on as I had to get back to the hotel to meet the lads and pack and Joyce had to get her first batch of guests home. Dan drove us over to their home and we finished the evening with a takeaway Chinese meal and more endless chatter.
The morning dawned and I went onto the back porch, of course to have a cigarette, and was met with the full charm of Joyce and Dan’s back garden, which gave the effect of being in the middle of the Forest and everywhere was so green and luscious and I could hear only natural sounds – I could easily believe I was back in the unspoilt setting of 17th century New England.
Coffee was served by the gallon and we drank it nearly quicker than it was able to percolate, Joyce produced a magnificent breakfast with Patty’s help and Laurie and Andrew went to fetch milk – me, I just sat around! Dan had already left for work and was to meet us in Salem later.
We got to Salem without difficulties or adventures and decided to plan what we would do by stopping for lunch. As it happens, the Brewpub Andrew chose happened to be hosting a group of Border Morris Dancers at the time, so we got free entertainment too! Then we had to order something to eat, in the end everyone shared and dipped into everyone else’s meal – it was a wonderfully spontaneous and chummy thing to do – something that normally only happens with a crowd of people or family that you’ve known for a long time – I’ve said it before and I say it again, whomsoever I’ve met so far from this group, I’ve felt comfortable with after 5 minutes – a true accolade to the spontaneity of all of us who are a part of this whether we have met or not. Then we headed off to Pirate’s Alley and Andrew was chosen as the second-in-command to our Pirate guide – as we left, Patty screamed – I know not why ….. – all I’ll say is that I was out of the tunnel by then!
Then we toured Salem and the witch haunts, met a real female witch and male witch – he was most insistent to tell us that he was not a wizard. Saw a show based on one of the many witch trials and checked out a local hotel for a drink. It was here that we sent multi-signatured cards to my sister and to the two Parisiennes – Anna and Brigitte.
Five founder members (and two long-suffering spouses) who met in Salem, Massachusetts - from left to right Andrew, me, Marie Robb, Laurie Moulin, Dan Murphy and at the front Patricia Armendariz and the president of Friends of Angélique Joyce LeBlanc Murphy
On then to the Colonial Inn where Marie awaited us having booked the restaurant the day before. They did us proud – provided a lovely private room where we could do as we wished. The seclusion was perfect as we could enjoy our meal in peace and not have to fight over the sounds of the other revellers. Another no-smoking joint, of course, so I occasionally joined others, and there were many, on the banishment porch – you should have seen the ashtray!
It was only as the sweet was served that we moved on to discuss our joint interest in the Angélique series and the plight of Anne Golon. We had touched on it previously at Quincy and in the hotel, but we kept interrupting ourselves, such was the eagerness to get to know one another. And so for another hour or so we entertained ourselves discussing the books, the trial, the future and all matters relating that we could think of – not bad, that we only got there after spending the best part of 2 days together. Even Dan and Andrew did not feel left out – that, I think was the true measure of success. And so it was time to say farewell – Marie, Laurie and Dan set off separately, Joyce and Patty drove us back to Boston and we said farewell in very heavy rain. The end of an adventure? Perhaps, but I think only a temporary postponement as we will all meet sometime, somewhere again.
I cannot thank all these wonderful ladies for their friendship and hospitality and giving us both a thoroughly unforgettable 2 days – since then the quality of our messages has changed, we are all so familiar with each other now that it’s like talking to family – I thank them one and all.
But, my story is not yet concluded – Andrew and I continued down to New Orleans and spent several days delighting in our return to a place we have grown to love. On the Friday prior to our departure, we were delighted to meet with Rania the original moderator of the Angélique onelist. To my double-delight, I discovered that Rania was a smoker, so having met in the lobby which is a no-smoking area we shot out to the swimming pool area as Andrew was getting drinks. There we talked and chatted for some considerable time – an added bonus being that Rania also likes the same sort of books Andrew is interested in so conversation flowed. We set off to eat quite late, and despite the Mardi Gras noise and atmosphere of Bourbon Street wasted not a moment of our precious time together. The rest of the evening consisted of sharing a meal and continuing to exchange ideas of interest and humour. As it was already getting late and Rania had to work the next morning and we had to catch a plane (we hadn’t packed yet either) we had one final drink by the swimming pool before saying our farewells. I would dearly have wished to have spent more time with Rania, but it wasn’t possible – but we have a standing invitation to stay with her during Mardi Gras next year – you never know …..
Whistlestop visit to Versailles with Joyce
Now it was Joyce Murphy's turn to personally meet Anne Golon. She persuaded me to take her over while she and her husband visited us in England. We left the 'boys' (our husbands) to their own devices and Joyce and I headed for the EuroStar and Paris.
Joyce and Dan 'chez nous'
It's remarkable how much you can pack into 48 hours. We arrived in Paris having not really had any delays in security checks (there weren't any), caught the Metro to Trocadero and I introduced her to the Eiffel Tower. From there we travelled to Anna's appartment and had a lovely 'girlie' evening. The following day was the big day for Joyce - she was to meet Anne Golon for the first time.
We travelled to Versailles and strolled down that incredible avenue that leads to the Palace itself and turned left down the steep road which housed the modest offices of Archange International. Joyce had more than one mission; of course top of the list was meeting Anne, then presenting Anne with the first ever Friends of Angélique fanzine (and getting one signed for herself) and of course, getting the obligatory signed copy of a book. It was a sunny day for all that it was already well into autumn and I spent most of it outside with Nadja and Boopy the dog to allow Joyce to 'drink' in her whole experience with Anne.
Joyce attempting to look 'nonchalant' in the presence of her favourite author Anne Golon!
All too soon it was time to say farewell to Anne, to Versailles, to Anna and to Paris as we boarded the EuroStar back to England. We arrived home in Nottingham, exhausted, but also very happy!
NB : all the articles were written by myself (except where otherwise stated) and are personal experiences I recorded shortly after they happened and are therefore timebound. Any specific references made within the articles may not be followed up - the majority of my reviews / articles were first posted on the Friends of Angélique Yahoo Group. Articles post-approx. 2005 are the copyright of this web-site.
Page refreshed : 23rd December 2016