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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mont St-Michel by Margot Justes

Along with Susan Miura, I'm working on A Taste of France, and one of the places we'll discuss is Mont St-Michel on the Normandy Coast, one of the wonders of the world. To say it is magnificent would be an understatement, the tiny rocky tidal island has been designated a World Heritage Site in 1979, and rightfully so.

I visited Mont St-Michel many years ago but the memory is still vivid, the effort to haul the huge rocks using pulleys and heavy rope to built the houses, church, and the imposing abbey must have been astounding. My imagination soared at the thought of the unbelievable accomplishments in such a harsh and isolated environment, the only way out during high tide was by boat.

A culture already existed by the time the Romans left in 460 AD, the history is rich, varied, and surprising, during the French Revolution the island was used as a prison.
If memory serves, the Scarlet Pimpernel was imprisoned there. If you're looking for a romantic historical adventurous read, The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is perfect. My copy is yellowed with age, and I won't part with it.

From afar St-Michel looks like a hunk of rock, but as you get closer, you begin to see the exquisitely carved mystical work of art, man-made sheer stunning beauty, from the cloister, to the church and abbey along with the homes where people lived and everything in between. The crowning glory sits at the top, the Medieval Benedictine Abbey, whose spires are visible for miles.

The high tide that comes in fast and furious, and has been described by Victor Hugo as "a la vitesse d'un cheval au galop" roughly translated, "faster than a galloping horse". A must see treasure.

Working on The Taste of France, made me realize, it's time to re-visit.

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year Resolutions by Margot Justes

With the new year come the resolutions, I've made mine and so far stuck to the no sugar resolve, but let's face it, it's only been a week. So far so good.
One other resolution I've made is to finish a non fiction novel about my stay in South Africa. I started writing it about two years ago, came up with a terrific title, Memories of a Country Long Ago, and somehow I put it aside and got involved in other projects, and this one just slipped away.

I recently came across the measly few pages and decided it is a worthwhile project , and now I have another challenge, describing the stunning country of South Africa, with the gorgeous topography, the red burning sun, the burnished clay under your feet, the animals that roam relatively free in their natural habitats, the vast cultural differences and the curse of apartheid.

There is so much to tell. Below is the beginning of my tale. I haven't really looked at, so not even first edits were done, but I thought I'd share with you the start of an adventure for me, something brand new and yes-terrifying-nonfiction.

"They say that once you've been to Africa, it gets in your blood and stays. I can say with certainty that it does.
I can vouch for the veracity of that statement. I visited South Africa many years ago.

To this day, I still feel the arid, red clay underneath my feet, the dust, the magnificence and incredible natural beauty of the country. It takes possession of your very soul. I cannot speak for the African continent as a whole, only to a small Southernmost tip of it, namely South Africa,

It is indeed with profound angst that I put words on paper. I write romantic mysteries, yet the idea has been floating around in my head, much like dialog and ideas for the fiction stories I write.

This will be a romance, unlike most others, a romance with a country I lived in all too briefly, yet have never forgotten. A country that has touched me, moved me and taught me to appreciate what I have. These are memories that are still with me, never to be forgotten. Like the country itself."

Till next time,
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris