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Gulland, Sandra on Mistress of the Sun

Mistress of the Sun
Sandra Gulland

A Prosecast interview with the author hosted by Cathi Bond.

CB: the first thing I wanted to ask you is about the period that you’ve chosen it’s 17th Century France. What attracted you to it?

SG: Well it’s so theatrical. They had one foot still in the middle ages and renaissance and it’s on the verge of becoming a modern period so it’s a period that’s very much on the cusp. The court of the sun king was one of those periods of high creation and intense thought and a lot was happening. It’s very exciting.

CB: I was astonished when I was reading it at the level of filth that people lived in.

SG: Any time you go back in time pre-industrial times and before plumbing and all that if we were to time travel I think our noses would suffer the most. Because really there were you know pigs in the street, the pigs were actually the garbage men because they were encouraged to wander and eat the filth people emptied their buckets of sewage into the streets. There was a lot of progress made actually towards the end of the century when the sun king Louis XIV brought in water into paris and he actually began to clean up the city by cobbling the streets so they weren’t just mud. He also brought in lighting, I think it was the first city in the world to be lit up at night and this was a huge revelation.

CB: This is the second time that you’ve visited or revisited French history because your first amazing successes were with the Josephine B trilogy. And now you’re mining earlier French history. Is there something in particular about France that has really grabbed your imagination?

SG: I just love French history! I have tried to persuade myself to move into a language that I’m more familiar with like English, but there’s something about French history that I think is just really enchanting. I saw a portrait recently of the sun king greeting some ambassadors from Holland, I think, and it showed the sun king and he was just covered in pink bows he had his petticoat breaches on and he was just this glorious looking man and then all the ambassadors from the foreign countries were all in black, and very sober. That is part of it. It’s that there is something rather fanciful about French history that I don’t think we see in English history or Canadian history.

To hear the rest of the interview visit Prosecast.com.

About Gulland, Sandra

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