my book on Librinova

Librinova is a Paris-based publishing house and literary agency for indie authors like me. I’ve been working with them since late last year. It takes a long time to produce a book; or rather, it took me an inordinate length of time (with Librinova.) We had our differences which serves to underscore that working with the French is different from working with Anglophones. In a word? Inflexible. Pricing, for example. Books are expensive in France and always have been, don’t ask me why. When I told them I wanted to sell my book (the paper version) at 12,79 euros, they said the minimum price would be 16,90 euros. With shipping costs, the total is 23,14 euros. “Can I not determine the price of my own book?” I asked. “No,” they replied. There were other quibbles.

When I decided to launch the book (the paper version) on my own on AMAZON (at a lower price), I learned that the sizing is different and I needed a different ISBN number. I found myself a new layout artist. As I type this, Euan (an Englishman) is diligently finalizing the layout for the AMAZON version which is slightly different from the Librinova version. Hopefully, the print version should be up next week.

https://www.librinova.com/librairie/juliet-young-1/an-accidental-parisian

I carried a birthday cake from Paris to Lille…

The weather over the weekend was perfect: sunny and warm with a constant cool breeze. Saturday morning, I carried this cake (in a cardboard box) on the train to Lille. It arrived a little smushed, but delicious. It was my godson’s 10th birthday the week before.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to a bicycle store. I ended up buying him a “trottinette” for his birthday present. “Are you sure you don’t want a bicycle?” I asked him more than once. “No, Tata,” he said decisively, “I want a trottinette.” OK … who am I to argue with a ten-year-old? They know more about trends and technology than we do. I had brought two DVDs with me from Paris, and it was he who ended up connecting the DVD player to the big screen.

His biggest pleasure at turning ten is being able to lawfully sit up front in his dad’s car. Now I’m relegated to the back seat. Saturday evening we went, with his sister, for sushi to the same Japanese restaurant we had gone to before, and Sunday morning dawned bright and beautiful (and very quiet.) Compared to Paris, Lille is a lot quieter. There’s also a lot more birdsong and foliage. At around 11 a.m., we walked through the leafy streets, my young companion scootering along in front of me. There’s some interesting architecture in the north of France.

We were headed to our favorite place: the Gare Saint Sauveur to have brunch and see a new art exhibition. Lille-Saint-Sauveur is a former goods station of Lille with the buildings converted into recreational areas and exhibitions. I love this place. For those who are interested, Lille is traditionally a Socialist city. The mayor, Martine Aubry, has held her post since 2001. She was the Labor Minister in the Mitterrand government, and her father, Jacques Delors, (still alive at the age of 96), was Finance Minister, also in Mitterrand’s government, before becoming President of the European Commission.

At the Gare Saint Sauveur bistro they have a new menu. I had a delicious offering of sweet and savory: pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream, a smoothie, one large spinach and squash-stuffed ravioli and spicy roasted potatoes, served with strong black coffee. It was heaven to be able to sit outside on the sunny, breezy terrace – no cars whizzing past – and to chat with friendly, smiling waitstaff. Soso had the child’s menu.

Afterwards, we visited the exhibition (free) which centers around the ravages of climate change.

At 6 pm I took the train back to Paris (a one-hour trip), then the bus to my apartment.

men controlling women

What is it with certain men? Do they feel threatened? Weakened? Undermined by the female sex? Is it some sort of power struggle between men and women? Then disempower them, that’s the only solution to the problem. Disempower, demean and deprive women of their fundamental rights. Chasten them for their audacity and their freedoms.

In her book of the same title, French feminist, Simone de Beauvoir, referred to women as The Second Sex.

The American feminist author, Kate Braverman, wrote this – “Women have waited millions of years, growing separate as another species, with visions and priorities no man-words, no man-measurements can comprehend.”

The decision as to whether to continue a pregnancy or terminate it, is fundamentally and primarily the woman’s decision, as it may shape her whole future personal life as well as family life and has a crucial impact on women’s enjoyment of other human rights. United Nations Human Rights

Women’s human rights, which include the rights without discrimination to: equality, dignity, autonomy, information, bodily integrity, respect for private life, the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health, and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The right of a woman or girl to make autonomous decisions about her own body and reproductive functions is at the core of her basic rights to equality, privacy, and bodily integrity. United Nations Human Rights

Look at this photo of an all-male group of conservative Republicans deciding on women’s health, maternity and reproductive care in the health care bill under Trump.

But this is the worst, it sends chills up my spine –

Look at the expression of fierce determination on Pence’s face and Trump’s face; they both seem to be scowling. (The men in the back look kind of embarrassed. I wonder how Jared explained that photo to Ivanka.) What is Trump signing? An executive order to ban federal money going to international groups which perform or provide information on abortions.

On the campaign trail, the formerly pro-choice Republican told MSNBC “There has to be some sort of punishment for the woman” if abortion was banned. Trump later retracted the statement amid a widespread outcry. (BBC)

So that’s what it’s all about, the three P’s. Punishment. Power. Politics.

And I got to thinking. While looking at the photos above, it occurred to me that the same three P’s are going on in some Islamic countries where the veiling tradition is such that women do not wear the veil by choice. Depending on the country, they are forced to cover their heads and bodies.

Shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini told a reporter “These coquettish women, who wear makeup and put their necks, hair and bodies on display in the streets have done nothing righteous. They do not know how to be useful, neither to society, nor politically or vocationally. And the reason is because they distract and anger people by exposing themselves.”

Women’s bodies are a sexual distraction to men and therefore need to be controlled, in every way.

Saudi Arabia launched its first-ever Girls’ Council in al-Qassim province to improve opportunities for girls there. Here are the members of the Girls’ Council –

 
 

the 343 sluts and the pro-abortion manifesto of 1971 in France

On April 5, 1971, a declaration was signed in Paris by 343 women who admitted to having had an abortion. Called the Manifesto of 343, it appeared in the social democratic French weekly magazine, Le Nouvel Observateur.

It was a courageous act of civil disobedience, since abortion was illegal in France back then. By admitting publicly to having aborted, they exposed themselves to criminal prosecution.

The manifesto was written by Simone de Beauvoir. It began (translated into English):

One million women in France have abortions every year. Condemned to secrecy, they do so in dangerous conditions, while under medical supervision, this is one of the simplest procedures. Society is silencing these millions of women. I declare that I am one of them. I declare that I have had an abortion. Just as we demand free access to contraception, we demand the freedom to have an abortion.

 

Famous names were on that manifesto: Catherine Deneuve, Agnès Varda, Simone de Beauvoir herself, Marguerite Duras, Françoise Sagan, Sonia Rykiel and Gisèle Halimi, to name a few, all admitting to have undergone an abortion procedure. They were referred to as the 343 salopes which mean “sluts”, “bitches” or “whores”.

The front page of the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, (yes, that Charlie Hebdo who, 44 years later, was the target of an Islamic terrorist attack in which 12 people were killed) printed a cartoon ridiculing male politicians with the question “Qui a engrossé les 343 salopes du manifeste sur l’avortement?(“Who got the 343 sluts from the abortion manifesto pregnant?”). With a view to mediatizing the affair, and wishing to highlight the appalling machismo and patriarchy that reigned over the French Republic back then, the name stuck and the women referred to themselves, with pride, as one of the 343 sluts/bitches/whores.

Calling for the legalization of abortion and free access to contraception, the manifesto paved the way to the adoption, in December 1974 and January 1975, of the “Veil law”, named after Health Minister Simone Veil, that repealed the penalty for voluntarily terminating a pregnancy during the first ten weeks (later extended to twelve weeks).

Here is Madame Veil below, in November 1974, standing before an assembly of men as she gave a historic speech to the National Assembly presenting her bill for the legalization of abortion.

“I would first like to share with you a woman’s conviction,” she began. “I apologize for doing so in front of this Assembly almost exclusively composed of men: no woman resorts to abortion with lightheartedness. You must listen to women.”

Liberté, égalité, féminité

In the photo below is the famous lawyer, Gisèle Halimi, a staunch defender of women’s rights; her name was also on the manifesto. The year was 1972 and she was defending a 17-year-old accused of procuring an abortion after having been raped in what is known as the Bobigny affair.

In 1973 the US Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in the landmark case Roe v. Wade. 

What’s happening today in the USA regarding Roe vs. Wade is deeply troubling. It beggars belief that all the hard work and sacrifice women did in the 1970s could become undone 49 years later. It’s all too clear that women the world over must keep affirming, keep defining and keep defending the cause in the face of subjugating forces that try to beat us down. Complacency is out, constant vigilance and struggle is in.

Trump is largely to blame because he nominated Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett as justices.

Inna Shevchenko, warrior. One of the founders of FEMEN. She is Ukrainian and she lives in Paris.

Women of the world, unite!

Blue Boy

Exactly one hundred years ago, ‘The Blue Boy’ permanently left the United Kingdom for the United States after being purchased by rail and property businessman Henry E. Huntington. The National Gallery’s then Director Charles Holmes wrote ‘au revoir’ on the back of the canvas in the hope that it would return one day. Now that dream has come true as the painting has been generously lent to London’s National Gallery for an exceptional free exhibition.

25 January – 15 May 2022
Room 46
Admission free

The artist – Thomas Gainsborough
‘The Blue Boy’, painted in 1770
Oil on canvas
179.4 × 123.8 cm
It lives permanently at The Huntington Art Museum, San Marino, California

This spectacular, enigmatic, full-length portrait was created during Gainsborough’s time in Bath (1759–74), a period when the artist’s style and practice changed dramatically in response to his patrons’ tastes and expectations. Gainsborough did not travel abroad, but instead benefitted from studying and copying the works of past masters in prestigious collections, particularly those by the Flemish artist Sir Anthony van Dyck who worked some 100 years earlier.

But who was this exquisitely-dressed Blue Boy?

Many believe him to be Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy hardware merchant and an acquaintance of the artist. He is shown as an aristocrat donning 17th-century cavalier attire with white stockings and blue satin breeches with lavishly gold embroidery.