Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Book (and Story) with "Movie" Potential!

I have recently completed (and very much enjoyed!) Goddess, Kelly Gardiner's novel based on the life of Julie d'Aubigny (aka La Maupin).  In her short life (1673-1707) she was a swashbuckling swordswoman, opera singer, duelist, and the lover of various prominent men and women in France.  Julie ran afoul of the law on numerous occasions, most notoriously for setting fire to a convent (for which she was tried in absentia and sentenced to the stake).

If we take a quick look at the core ingredients -- a powerful woman, brawls and duels, passionate affairs (heterosexual and lesbian), triumphs on stage, etc. -- the tale surely lends itself to film.  From what I have learned, the character did make her way to two cinematic ventures.  However, Julie, Chevalier de Maupin (2004) distorted the historical narrative almost beyond recognition, while Madamigella di Maupin (1966) strayed even farther afield.  I hope one day the actual life of this remarkable woman will catch the fancy of some director.

Of course, the cinematic rendition is one thing; the literary may be quite different.  I must commend Gardiner for a wonderfully understated and extremely sensitive presentation.  The narrative indeed unfolds in a manner consistent with its device:  a deathbed confession to a priest.  This is a beautiful novel with powerful writing, artistically strengthened by what is left unsaid.  Brava!

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