'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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September 29, 2010

From my reading: The Grand Days of Coppet


'Outside of Germaine's intimate family circle, no visitor to Coppet was more loyal than Juliette Recamier. ... Jeanne-Francoise-Julie de Recamier, daughter of a Paris lawyer, was married at the age of fifteen, at the height of the Reign of Terror, to a wealthy Parisian banker twenty-seven years her senior.  She opened the first salon in Paris after the Revolution and infused those gatherings with her own incomparable grace. A small, delicate woman with a timid, whispering voice, she adopted a manner at once frigidly chaste and playfully coquetish; her appearance was comely rather than beautiful:  pert oval face, pearly teeth, incomparably radiant skin. And for forty years her mysterious magnetism bewitched many distinguished men and women, eliciting their slavish devotion...



... Coppet was fuller than it had ever been before:  the guests' time was spent in various cheerful activities, such as boat outings on the lake, musical evenings, festive dinners, theatrical performances, amd varied excursions, the most arduous of which was Germaine's and Juliette's failed attempt to climb the Mont Blanc together. (Their decolletes were burned to a crisp before they even reached the bottom of the glacier.)'



{This Turner painting shows Mont Blanc from the other (Italian) side, but the colors are so pretty and September-like...}

-- from Madame de Stael:  the first modern woman,
by Francine du Plessix Gray


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