The Shadow Queen Book Review

William Shakespeare wrote the following:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances”

Sandra Gulland’s new book, The Shadow Queen is about the roles we play in life, on and off stage.  Claudette is the daughter of impoverished actors in 17th century France.  Her mother has an astonishing rise in status, becoming one of the most recognized performers of the day. Even though Claudette is in close quarters with Moliere and other playwrights of the era, she and anyone associated with players are outside of  what was considered to be respectable society.

As a girl, Claudette has a chance encounter with Athenais de Montespan, the daughter of a wealthy and powerful  aristocrat. Years later, Claudette again finds herself in again in close contact with Athenais, who has become mistress of Louis XIV. Known as the Shadow Queen, Athenais persuades Claudette to become personal attendant. Drawn in by the idea of wealth and respectability, Claudette gives up the theater, but finds that being at court is like being on the stage. She soon discovers that her mistress will do anything to keep the King’s favor and discredit any other woman who would dare to take her place in the King’s bed.

Did I like this book? I’m not entirely sure. Ms. Gulland is a good writer, it was an easy read. She obviously did her research. But I wasn’t drawn in as much as I would have liked to be.

Do I recommend this book? I don’t know.



Fiddler On The Roof

The opening song Of Fiddler On The Roof is Tradition.

It speaks of a way of life that has been the standard for generations. But change is on the horizon.

Based on the stories by Sholem Aleichem, the original Broadway production premiered in 1964. 7 years later, the movie Fiddler On The Roof made it’s way to the big screen. Tevye (Topol) and Golde (Norma Crane) are a Jewish peasant middle aged couple with 5 daughters living in pre-revolutionary Russia. The world around them is changing. Their daughters are not content to let the local matchmaker and their parents determine whom they will marry. Outside forces are eager to see their Jewish neighbors forced out of the land they have lived and worked on for generations.

All great stories have a universality to them. Fiddler is no different. The themes of change and being fearful of that change, the dynamic between the older generations who want to keep everything as is and the younger generations eager of something new, watching your child grow up and make decisions that you might not approve of.

This show is part of my cultural DNA. I come  from this world, my great grandparents left the shtetls of Eastern Europe for America at the turn of the 20th century. I was lucky enough to see the 2004 Broadway revival. When the movie is on, I find myself singing along with the characters.

I recommend this movie.

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