Anne and Serge (AKA Sergeanne) Golon
Okay, so I admit it, my all-time favorite book series is most often found categorized under "romance." It feels good to finally be out of the closet! I really am a man, I promise! The fact is I have long considered that the "romance" pigeonhole doesn't do these great books justice. Sure they have a nice, spicy touch of romance to them but there's a lot more to them than that. I am not a romance reader at all. The few I have tried to read have been shallow and uninteresting. These books are just outstanding story-telling, much in the same vein as Gone with the Wind and even better in my opinion. I think a better categorization would be "historical adventure fiction."
For those of you not familiar with the books, they were mostly written in the late 50s and early to mid 60s by a married couple - Anne and Serge Golon. They went under the pseudonym Sergeanne Golon. Actually, the writing was done primarily by Anne, while her husband, Serge, contributed a great deal of the background research. The story of these two authors is quite something in itself and contains many of the real-life elements we see in their novels. In the early 60s these books were the MOST POPULAR NOVELS IN THE WORLD. So, why does hardly anyone who speaks English know of them now, even though they are still very popular in many non-English speaking countries? Good question! For whatever reason, the books have not been printed in English for more than two decades. Today, they are available only in second-hand bookstores specializing in hard-to-find books. Indeed, AT LEAST THREE BOOKS OF THE SERIES APPEAR NEVER TO HAVE BEEN TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH. It is the fervent wish of myself and a number of other persons to bring these books back onto the shelves so that future readers may enjoy them as much as we have and to get the last few books translated so that we ourselves may finish the story.
Another surprise even to many avid fans of the series is that SEVERAL OF THE BOOKS WERE MADE INTO MOVIES. Here again, they were never translated into English from the French. While they have been popular in France for more than three decades, most English speakers don't even know of their existence. I was only able to find out more about them in the past year with the advent of the Internet Movie Data Base. Even so, finding a source of them was a struggle, but I managed. I only recently received them, and although they cost me a pretty penny and were not dubbed or subtitled, I enjoyed them immensely. The productions were beautiful and in my opinion Michele Mercier was perfectly cast as Angélique. Oh, did I tell you I don't speak one word of French?!? It didn't hurt my enjoyment one bit. If you'll go on from here, I'll even show you some movie scenes taken from the jacket covers of the individual movies. There were five of them in all.
In the first picture, taken from the front cover of Angélique: Marquise des Anges we see Michele Mercier as Angélique in the palace of her first husband Joffrey de Peyrac played by Robert Hossein, who is looking on.
In the second scan, taken from Merveilleuse Angélique, Angélique is superimposed in the foreground and Court of Miracles makes up the background.
In the third, also from Merveilleuse Angélique, we see Angélique in the Paris underworld having just retrieved her children watched over by her protector and lover Nicholas in the disguise of the criminal Calembredaine.
In the fourth scene, taken from Angélique et le Roy, Angélique being romanced by Louis XIV is superimposed on Bahktiary Bey and his troops.
In the fifth scan from Angélique et le Roy, Angélique is greeted by Louis at a court function.
In the sixth picture, taken from Indomptable Angélique, Angélique on the slave auction block in Candia is superimposed on a scene from the ship of the Duc de Vivonne, a French admiral.
In the seventh, from Indomptable Angélique, Angélique and her friend apothocary Savary go off in search of Angélique's long lost husband, Joffrey de Peyrac.
In the eighth scene, also from Indomptable Angélique, Angélique is accompanied by the Duc de Vivonne.
In the ninth, from Angélique et le Sultan, Angélique in her harem garb is superimposed on Moroccan troops in company with Mulai Ismail and Joffrey de Peyrac.
In the tenth and final scene, from Angélique et le Sultan, Sultan of Morocco. Mulai Ismael presents Angélique a gift.
A Little Bit About the Books
The series details the adventures of a French country girl, Angélique de Sancé, from childhood to mature woman. It takes place in the era of King Louis XIV, and the interweaving of historical fact with fiction is one of the real attractions to in that period that I did a lot of research on my own about it. I was particularly fascinated to find the true historical characters were presented exaclty as described in various writings at time. I felt I was really able to meet the people in the story. Further, Anne Golon's in-depth characterizations were so realistic that it was ofter had to distinguish the fictional characters from the ones who actually existed. In the whole it was a very easy way to leark a lot of history and enjoy an exciting story at the same time.
Without going into much detail, since there are many surprises in the books that I don't want to give away to a potential reader, Angélique's adventures take her from her rural home to Toulouse and an arranged marriage to the Comte de Peyrac, to the gutters of Paris, and to Versailles as the favorite of the King himself. Her travels lead her from France, throughout the Mediterranean, and to the New World. It's a fascinating ride all the way!
For readers in the United States, the novels published so far number nine, at least by the usual count, Some, such as the book Angélique were at time published as two separate books: Angélique, Marquise of Angels and Angélique, the Road to Versailles, so the exact titles and chronology may vary depending on which versions the reader gets. Most commonly the order of the books is:
2. Angélique and the King
3. Angélique in Barbary
4. Angélique in Revolt
5. Angélique in Love
6. The Countess Angélique
7. The Temptation of Angélique
8. Angélique and the Demon
9. Angélique and the Ghosts
Additionally, three books never before translated into English have been written since. The roughly-translated titles include:
10. Angélique in Quebec
11. Angélique, the Path of Hope
12. The Victory of Angélique
My fervent wish is to someday see these titles translated into English so that I and other readers who found themselves in the middle of a story at the end of Angélique and the Ghosts will be able to complete the series.
For potential readers who desire more information about the individual books, myself and other readers have written review of some of the listed by Amazon Books. Search for them using the title term "Angélique." For anyone interested in obtaining the books, the two which originally made up the first book, Angélique, have been reprinted as classic collectors' editions and are available through most major bookstores. The rest are available only as second-hand books. The best source I have found so far is the Advanced Book Exchange. They have a fairly good number of all titles available, many at very reasonable prices. I have obtained a number of them, and they are in variable but generally good shape. Happy Hunting!!
Finally, for persons interested in discussing the series with other fans, I have set up a bulletin board for that purpose. It can be accessed through the following link: (link not available)
Thank you and Good-Night Harvey