L.L. Diamond

News, Blog, and Stories

So, while patience is a virtue, there are times I’m just not patient at all! I have a cover for Confined with Mr. Darcy and I just can’t wait for you to see it. Andrea Aguirre is amazing and put so many little detailed touches into the cover that I was just amazed when I saw it finished. I hope you love it as much as I do! The Andrea’s artwork made it so easy to just add the font and go.

Without further ado, here’s the cover!

Confined with Mr. Darcy copy

Now that we have a cover, I’m going to be working to get everything up and running for preorder.

How about another preview! If you missed Chapter 1, you can read that here!

Here’s chapter 2! Just remember to leave me a comment! I’d love to hear what you think!

Elizabeth stretched her feet languorously towards the foot of the luxurious bed. One thing about Pemberley, Darcy’s mattresses were light-years better than the lumpy, bumpy thing she’d moved with to London. A loud purr rattled the large cat on her chest, making her smile and open her eyes. “Good morning, Tilney.” He scooted up and ran his damp, cold little nose down her cheek while she giggled. “You’re such a little lover boy. Maybe I should’ve named you Willoughby instead.” The hefty Maine Coon rubbed his nose and cheek down the other side of her face, pretty much ignoring what she’d said, but that wasn’t anything new. He was always more concerned with loving than he was what she had to say.

“Are you hungry?”

He hopped onto the mattress when she sat up. She grabbed a pair of muted pink joggers from the foot of the bed and pulled them and the matching cardie on while she clucked at him. Mrs. Reynolds, the Pemberley housekeeper, had given her an amazing suite, but feeding a cat anything but dry kibble in the opulent rooms made her cringe. He always made such a mess with his food. The last thing Elizabeth wanted was for him to drip wet tuna dinner on the posh Persian rugs.

“Come on,” she called, patting her thigh.

When she opened the door, he hurried past her and trotted ahead down the hallway. After a week, she’d be willing to bet what little she owned that Tilney knew the vast house way better than she did. He kept to their suite during the night, but during the day, he usually slept in front of the large windows in the breakfast room, soaking up the warm sun.

He led her down the stairs, through the hallway of the family wing, and further until they entered Mrs. Reynolds’s domain, the sizeable, homey kitchen.

“Good morning, dear,” said the lady herself while she chopped onions. “Did you have a nice lie-in?”

Elizabeth glanced at the clock on the wall, which read ten-thirty. “I hadn’t realised how late it was. I hope I didn’t ruin whatever breakfast plans you’d made.”

“Oh, no. Ana always has a lie-in on Saturdays, and William is working in the breakfast room. He’s still drinking his coffee, but he was up with the roosters this morning. He always is.”

“He’s working on the weekend?”

A chuckle bubbled from Mrs. Reynolds. “Unless his sister drags him from it, yes. That young man needs a life other than that company of his, but I do worry how he’ll find one when he never stops long enough to draw breath.”

Elizabeth pressed her hand to her forehead and sighed. “Last night, I suppose I got bogged down in reading the latest news online—all the different viewpoints now that Boris Johnson has locked down the country. I must say that I thought he would’ve shut it down before yesterday.”

“A lot of people thought the same.” Mrs. Reynolds rinsed her hands and dried them on a towel. “Now, enough about that. You and that little monster of yours need breakfast.”

Elizabeth smiled and looked over at Tilney, who rubbed back and forth against a cabinet while he meowed, waiting for his morning can of food. “I’ll take care of him, and if you’ll point me in the direction of the bread, I can make some toast. It looks like you’re already busy with lunch.” She grabbed the cat food from the pantry and dished it out while Mrs. Reynolds shook her head.

“It’s no trouble. I thought I’d make a nice stew for this evening, and I like to get everything chopped good and early.” She put up a hand. “Don’t worry. I’ve found a vegetarian stew recipe online for you. I’m also prepping some brussels sprouts. William and Ana love them with their stew.”

The woman was amazing. After asking some of Elizabeth’s preferences that first night, Mrs. Reynolds always ensured a vegetarian option was available for her. “Thank you. I hope you know I never expected you to cook dishes only for me.”

“Oh, tosh! It’s not an imposition at all. I love cooking, and I’ve had to alter recipes to accommodate other guests. Your stew calls for nearly all of the same vegetables. I just plan on adding a few cooked lentils to yours for a bit of protein.”

“It sounds wonderful,” said Elizabeth. “May I ask if the brussels sprouts are going to be in the stew?”

“No, on the side. Do you not like them?”

Elizabeth grimaced a bit. “They’re one of the few vegetables I can’t even force myself to eat. My mother would always make me eat them at Christmas until one year I was sick at the table.”

“Well! We can’t have that!”

“I’m sorry. I probably should’ve mentioned it when we first spoke.”

“Don’t you fret about it. I’m just glad you told me before I did include them in something. They aren’t exactly a mild flavour. Is there anything else you don’t eat?”

“Not as far as I’m aware,” said Elizabeth lightly.

Mrs. Reynolds clasped her hands together. “Good! Now, I have some quick oats in the pantry. I thought I’d make you some caramel apple porridge.”

“That sounds incredible, but I truly don’t want to be a bother.”

She waved off Elizabeth’s protest. “It’s not all that complicated, and you should know by now that I never let people fend for themselves in my kitchen. You commented that the vegan protein powder you brought is gritty, so I looked for ways to use it that you might enjoy.”

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. “It’s a great idea. Thank you.”

“Enough of that. Go join William. I’ll bring your food when it’s ready.”

With a smile and a shake of her head, Elizabeth made her way into the breakfast room where Darcy wasn’t glued to his laptop as usual, but frowned at a document he held front of him. He wore his usual posh trousers and a button-down cotton shirt, but without a tie, his chestnut brown hair curling ever so slightly over the collar.

“Hi,” she said as she sat in the chair opposite.

The paper twitched before he shifted it to the side. “Good morning.” He set it beside his plate and relaxed into his chair. “I hope you slept well.”

“Yes, thank you.” She scraped her teeth along her bottom lip. “I really appreciate you letting me stay here. I think I would’ve eventually gone stir crazy if I’d remained in London. It was really good of you considering how awful I was to you at Rosings.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m very sorry for that, by the way.”

He grabbed the handle of his teacup. “I’m sorry for how I worded things that evening. I shouldn’t have insulted your family.”

“My family is far from perfect. It’s why I can’t live there. I might murder Lydia with my bare hands.” His low chuckle vibrated through her, and she squeezed her arms tighter across her chest. Since he’d convinced her to join him, little things like this kept happening. Certain looks sent a jolt down her spine, and his laugh seemed to touch every part of her. When their hands accidentally touched at dinner the other night, a current surged through her and she’d nearly dropped the bottle of wine all over the pristine white table cloth. She’d barely finished her glass and reached for a refill when he’d apparently reached for the bottle at the same time. Fortunately, he’d caught it before the red wine could cause any damage.

Mrs. Reynolds bustled in and placed a French press on the table next to her cup with a small pitcher of oat milk. “There you are.” After she returned to the kitchen, they sat quietly while Elizabeth prepared her coffee.

“Morning!” echoed off the walls.

They both nearly jumped out of their seats at Ana’s loud greeting.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” said Darcy with a soft smile. He only ever wore that expression when he interacted with Ana, which was about the sweetest thing Elizabeth had ever seen.

His sister dramatically plopped into her chair, making Elizabeth smile. No matter the teenage girl, they always had a certain amount of melodrama about them. “I thought I saw the lovebirds walking down by the river from my bedroom window. Do you know what they’ve been doing—other than each other, that is?”

“Georgiana!”

Elizabeth almost spit her coffee all over Darcy before she managed to swallow and laugh without choking. Of course, Elizabeth now knew that Darcy was the sole person in this world who dared to call his younger sister Georgiana. Elizabeth also knew that the sixteen-year-old, in fact, despised her name, but then Ana was the only one who called Darcy by his given name—Fitzwilliam. Whether it was a form of payback, Elizabeth had yet to discover, but she did hope to know before she moved out.

“Bingley logged-in to the work server a few times last week, so he’s working,” said Darcy with a frown. “I needed him for some tasks with the move to at-home offices and employees.”

“Sorry,” said Ana, with a bit of a giggle. “I’m just chuffed to bits that he’s married and taken. Do you know how many times his sister told me what a great ‘match’ we’d make?” She pretended to gag herself with her finger. “I mean, eww! He’s old enough to be . . . to be . . . well, to be my brother.”

Darcy pulled himself straight as a pin while Elizabeth pressed her lips tightly together to keep from laughing. “Are you saying I’m old?”

“Well, not exactly. But too old for me.”

“I suppose I can’t argue with that logic.” He refilled his tea while he shook his head.

“Breakfast is served!” Mrs. Reynolds hurried in and set a bowl in front of her and Ana, then watched while they picked up their spoons and tucked in.

A moan came from Ana. “This is phenomenal, Mrs. R.”

The housekeeper winked at Elizabeth. “I’m glad you like it, dear.”

Elizabeth managed to keep her face neutral. A conspiracy to improve Ana’s eating habits had been afoot at Pemberley for some time. Since Elizabeth’s arrival, Mrs. Reynolds had slipped several healthier options into the teenager’s diet without her discovery. This was just one more.

Mrs. Reynolds glanced around at each of them. “Now, does anyone need anything else?”

“No, thank you,” said Elizabeth. After the siblings both shook their heads, Mrs. Reynolds dashed away to the kitchens.

“So, are you writing anything exciting at the moment?” While she took a drink from her tea, Ana watched Elizabeth with wide eyes.

“No, nothing really. A few weeks ago, I finished the final edits on my newest release, so I’m trying to decide what comes next.”

“How do you do that?”

When Elizabeth caught Darcy’s eye, she cleared her throat. “I suppose what catches the interest of my imagination. If I start daydreaming the story, then that’s what I write, but I think too much has been occupying my brain the last two weeks to let a new idea take over.”

“That’s so cool. I would love to be able to do that.”

“Georgiana, you hate writing a thank you card. What makes you think you would want to write a novel?”

She huffed and set her forearm against the edge of the table, her spoon held aloft. “Those are completely different.”

“But in essence the same,” said Darcy.

Elizabeth glanced back and forth between them. “I think you’re wicked-talented musically. I could listen to you play cello all day.”

Ana’s cheeks pinked a little. “Thank you.” She took another bite of her porridge, but the conversation didn’t die. Instead, they spoke of more trivial topics until Darcy ran off to his study to take an important call and Ana disappeared into the music room to practice.

When Elizabeth rose, Tilney rubbed against the doorframe as he meandered in from the kitchen. He dropped onto the floor in the middle of a sunny patch and began to meticulously clean his paws and his face.

She peeked her head into the kitchen. “Thanks for breakfast, Mrs. Reynolds.”

“You’re welcome, dear. Has everyone left?”

“Yes, I’m the last one. Well, if you don’t count Tilney. He’s in the sunbeam having a bath. Do you want me to take him up?”

“Oh, for Heaven’s sakes, no. Leave him be. He won’t be a bother.”

Elizabeth grinned as she waved and let the door close. Mrs. Reynolds didn’t speak poorly of Tilney at all, but more as though he wasn’t part of her job or her concern; however, Elizabeth had found a piece of dried salmon in his bowl two mornings ago. She suspected the woman not only spoiled the humans in the household, but she was willing to spoil any pets that came along as well.

She took her time wandering back through the corridors and up the stairs, passing the portraits of Darcys long gone while she took the scenic route to her rooms. Generations of Darcys immortalised on canvas adorned the walls of the stately old pile, but it was a specific portrait that had made her walk this path almost daily since she’d arrived.

After she rounded the corner, there it was, in pride of place—the only portrait to hang on the opposite wall. The portrait gallery contained two older paintings, one Regency period and one Georgian that was dated approximately 1750.

According to Ana, both “masters” of Pemberley were important for their contribution to either the wealth of the family or the prosperity of the estate. They were joined by Ana’s grandfather, father, and of course, her brother, who stood in the lone portrait that drew her to this room. Why was that? What was it about his face that made her seek it out?

She stood and stared for about five minutes before she sighed and returned to her suite. Once she’d made herself comfortable on the sitting room sofa, she opened her laptop and stared at the empty document. What was in her head? Whose story was begging to be pulled one word at a time into a romantic adventure?

“Should I?” The idea was the only one she’d had in two weeks. The problem was she didn’t know if it would have a happy ending. She’d never written a romance that didn’t have a happily ever after. Would her fans even buy it?

She bit her thumbnail and took a fortifying breath before putting her fingers to the keys. As she furiously typed, she blew out the exhale. “They say to write daily no matter what. I suppose here goes nothing.”

I have to say that I was looking forward to Barcelona, but I hadn’t expected it to be one of my favourite places. It was also cleaner than some of the other European cities we’ve visited.

We arrived in Barcelona, and after a bit of confusion, figured out the subway, which we took to the metro stop near Sagrada Familia. The flat we arranged for our stay was a short walk from Sagrada Familia and was an amazing bargain, considering the location.

Our first sightseeing expedition was Sagrada Familia. We had pre-booked our tickets, which was definitely the way to go. We skipped the longer line and were inside in a matter of minutes.

Sagrada Familia was designed by the great Antoni Gaudi. The first corner stone was laid 135 years ago, and the work still goes on to complete it today. Known for the amazing details on the exterior as well as the interior in a neo-Gothic design, Gaudi worked on the cathedral one bit at a time until his death in 1926. He is buried in the crypt of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família. Construction on Sagrada Familia still continues today. The plan is to finish in 2026, the two-hundredth anniversary of the laying of the first cornerstone.

When I studied Sagrada Familia in art history class, I can’t say I was particularly impressed by the detail and the overall design. Gaudi, after all, is far from a typical architect. However, standing inside that cathedral, the light coming into the stained glass was one of the most incredible things I’d ever seen. I would love to return and sit in the seats down the center of the structure all day and watch how the light and color changes as the sun crosses the sky.

The exterior has so much detail, you could spend a lot of time walking around to see it all. There is a marked difference between the newer pieces of the cathedral as opposed to Gaudi’s original portion of the cathedral. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to walk completely around because of the scaffolding. That’s another thing I would love to do one day.

Despite the continued construction, Sagrada Familia is certainly a marvel. The area around the cathedral, while touristy, is lovely and was an amazing place to stay. I definitely recommend it! I’ll go into more detail on that next week 🙂

I hope everyone is weathering their time safely. Stay healthy!

 

 

Coming soon! Barcelona continued…

In Undoing, I wrote a cameo character from a donation made to one of Austen Variations’s fund raisers, which brought Lady Laura Vranes into Elizabeth’s life. The real Laura was kind enough to send me two videos about herself and her impressive modern art collection, giving me a great deal of inspiration for not only her character, but also another small character, Miss Geddes. I loved writing these characters into Darcy and Elizabeth’s story.

In Chapter 1, Lady Vranes approaches Elizabeth to tell her of a female artist she wants to sponsor. After a Women in Art and Culture class, I know how hard it was for women to be recognized as legitimate artists due to the obstacles in their paths. I’ve always enjoyed including noted female artists in my book by making them dressmakers in my books (Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Rosa Bonheur), but this time I wanted a portraitist to recognize as an actual painter, so I searched female artists until I found Margaret Sarah Carpenter.

The real Margaret Sarah Carpenter was born Margaret Sarah Geddes in Salisbury, England in 1793. Her first art instruction was from a local drawing master but was later supported by Lord and Lady Radnor, moving to London and living independently in 1812. In 1812, she was also awarded a medal by the Royal Society of Arts. She was also awarded another medal in 1813 and a gold medal in 1814.

Margaret Sarah Carpenter

Margaret Sarah Carpenter

During her lifetime, she exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy as well as the British Institution—quite the accomplishments for a lady during that time period. In 1823, one reviewer said of her work, “It very rarely happens that a specimen of art like this is produced from the hand of a lady: Here are colour, light, strength and effect, and anatomical drawing.” Her incredible work is often compared to that of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

In 1817, she married William Hookham Carpenter, who was the Keeper of Prints at the British Museum. They had two children who were also noted artists. Upon her husband’s death, Queen Victoria provided her an annual pension of one hundred pounds in recognition of her husband’s service as well as her own artistic merit.

While these dates are after the timeline of my story, I liked that Carpenter was still rather young at the time of Undoing, allowing Lady Vranes to help her be recognized much as Lord and Lady Radnor did in her actual life.

Portrait by CarpenterI hope you enjoyed this peek into the workings of my mind and my inspiration for some of my story. I thank the real Lady Vranes for the amazing inspiration she provided and sending me down the research rabbit hole to learn about another wonderful female artist who, despite the time and restrictions on women, persevered.

There is certainly more inspiration, particularly Thomas’s character, but that will have to be revealed in time. I don’t want to give too much away too early 😉

 

Click to read Undoing! Free with Kindle Unlimited!

At Amazon UK

 

Sources:
Whitley, W.T, Art in England 1821-1837, Cambridge, 1930
https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp06763/margaret-sarah-carpenter-nee-geddes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hookham_Carpenter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Sarah_Carpenter

 

After Pompeii, we mostly roamed around Naples, wandering into churches, eating in various restaurants, and browsing through the streets.

Just a short walk from where we stayed on Via Duomo was Cattedrale di San Gennaro, which was one of the churches we wandered through while it poured down rain, giving us a break from the wet. Cattedrale di San Gennaro is a Roman Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Naples. It was finished in the 14th century. The artwork on the ceiling, dome, and altar are stunning.

We walked down toward the waterfront one day to find a gluten free restaurant we’d found online. We all loved this one street that was just very picturesque in the middle of such a large city

 

One of my fun finds. I love Bialettis, and this one is huge! Not to mention great for Christmas 🙂

We also took the Naples Underground tour, which is fascinating. You descend into the first tunnels and your guide takes you through discussing the history from WWII to the Romans, even the Roman theatre that is mostly buried beneath the houses that now stand in this part of central Naples. In the picture below, they were studying various plants and how they grow underground. The guys above ground while you wait for your tour are rather rude, but stick it out. It was very entertaining.

Overall, we really enjoyed Naples, though Herculaneum and Pompeii were the best parts of the holiday. We did enjoy some aspects of the city, but it made me sad how much trash was around the city, big piles surrounding dumpsters. It really detracts from how lovely it is.

 

Next up . . . Barcelona!

 

Afte Herculaneum, we hopped back on the train and traveled to Pompeii, the more popular of the two archeological sites. When they handed me the map at the entrance, it was overwhelming how huge it is. As a result, we all discussed what we wanted to see most, and I steered us out to one far corner for the part I wanted to see most, Villa of the Mysteries (Villa dei Misteri).

Villa of the Mysteries is named for the hall of the mysteries in the portion of the house that faces the sea. This too, located in the residential portion of the building, has a fresco covering three walls that is absolutely incredible. It is one of the most preserved ancient buildings, depicting a scene of Dionysus, who is on the middle wall, joined by Ariadne, his wife. Other scenes involve rituals as well as architectural details common in the art of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The building dates back to 200 BCE while the frescos are closer to 70 to 80 BCE.

After, the children wanted to see the amphitheatre, so we zig-zagged through the maze of buildings, marvelling at the ruts from carriages visible in the roads and the strategically placed stones allowing people to cross the streets, which were a good one to two feet below the sidewalks.

We passed some lovely mosaics in former front doors as well as the House of the Wounded Bear, which is mid-1st century AD. We also passed graffiti on the walls that remain from when Pompeii was in its hey day. The writing is political propaganda.

Mostly, we took photos of the amazing mosaics and frescos along the way.

 

 

 

We also passed the famous “Guard Dog” mosaic, called that for the words below it (“Cave Canem”) that say Beware of the Dog.

One of the last ruins we walked through was the House of the Venus in the Shell. We really enjoyed the garden in the rear.

We basically wandered through the ruins until we finally reached the amphitheatre, sitting in the middle and taking in everything until we were absolutely exhausted and ready to head back to the train and Naples.

While I much preferred Herculaneum, Pompeii is another do not miss if you have the opportunity.

 

Next . . . Our last days in Naples!

 

 

Sources:

http://pompeiisites.org/en/archaeological-site/villa-of-the-mysteries/

 

Ever since I took a class on the Bronze Age in the Aegean, I’ve wanted to go to Pompeii and Herculaneum. Of course, that usually means a trip to Naples. Having been to both Rome and Venice, I thought I knew what traveling to Italy would entail: good food, friendly people, and a lot of walking. I was right on some of it.

Before traveling to Naples, I researched the different ways of going to where we would stay to find the least expensive. In the end, we opted to use a service called the Alibus, which takes you to the Central train station for 5 euros/person. There are five of us, so it was definitely more cost effective than hiring a car, which was a minimum of fifty. From the Central station, the walk wasn’t too bad, so that was our plan.

First, it took us a bit to find the Alibus stop. If you don’t like crowded buses, then be prepared, because it is. You pay for your passage on the bus, which was very convenient. The drive into Naples didn’t take long and we were let off just near Central Station. Of course, Google Maps took us this roundabout route, and during the walk, we learned quickly you have to be very careful of drivers in Naples! In Rome, the traffic is insane, but the cars are pretty conscientious of pedestrians, not so much in Naples! When we reached the flat where we were staying, the woman who worked for the agency giggled and giggled and said we were crazy. We still hadn’t quite comprehended how bad it was until we walked a bit more. We understood her giggles completely by the time we returned home. Especially after a driver decided to skim close to my seventeen-year-old daughter and hit her with his wing mirror while they attempted to cross the street.

Once we were settled, we decided to grab a quick bite at a coffee shop a few doors down before we attempted to catch the train to see Herculaneum before the end of the day. Admission to Herculaneum stops at five p.m., so we thought we had plenty of time.

We purchased our train tickets on the Circumvesnia to Ercolano and found the platform easily. Then, we sat and sat. According to the internet, the train was on a certain schedule. If that was supposed to be the schedule, then the train was really late. That wasn’t the only time, however. We learned that you could never go by the online train schedule around Naples. The trains ran on their own schedule.

We made it to Ercolano with five minutes to spare. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the walk downhill in time, so we just missed the last admission. We took a few pictures from the walkway above and took the train back to Naples to hunt for dinner.

The next morning, we ate breakfast, had a quick coffee at the same cafe as the night before, and caught an earlier train out to Herculaneum. This time, we were one of the first admitted inside and didn’t have a big crowd while we took in the ruins, the artwork, and just the overall scope of the place. Most people want to see Pompeii, but there are several great reasons to go to Herculaneum as well.

  1. Less of a crowd!
  2. Herculaneum was unearthed after Pompeii and is better preserved.
  3. While touring, you’ll see people working to restore and preserve what is there.

Herculaneum with Pompeii in the background

We spent several hours walking around Herculaneum, which is situated between Ercolano and about a mile or so of coastline before the sea, and were awed at the mosaics preserved within structures such as the bath house and another home where crews were actively restoring the mosaics as well as the frescoes. They even made us wear paper covers on our shoes so we didn’t damage their careful work.

Mosaic in the female bath house

What has been unearthed is amazing, but it’s even crazier when you realize how much of Herculaneum is still buried under the town of Ercolano. The unearthed section is quite small when you consider this was a city of 4-5,000 people. Seeing the original wood still intact in some of the structures and the mosaics is well worth the time—even in the rain! We spent several showers in certain structures before we could walk around again and enjoy the site.

When we left Herculaneum, we walked back up the hill to the train station. Restaurants in some European cities will have someone outside whose sole job is to get people inside to eat. When you stop in Ercolano, the restaurant just outside the train station is terrible about it! The man whistled at my underage daughter trying to get our attention. He didn’t seem to care that I was furious, only that he had my attention. Needless to say, we didn’t stop to eat and boarded the train in the direction of Pompeii.

 

Next up … Pompeii and the rest of our trip to Naples!

We had to check out of our lodgings that last morning in Paris, but we tend to travel with backpacks just in case as well as the fact that most airlines in Europe only allow one free carryon. In this instance, we knew we would be walking around Paris on our last day with our belongings, so we didn’t want to be hauling luggage everywhere.

Backpacking it!

My husband found a gluten free restaurant called Noglu that had gluten free croissants and french pastries to try, so we walked there since we weren’t in any hurry, which allowed us just to look at a lot of the street views in Paris and enjoy the atmosphere. We had a couple of different views of the Eiffel Tower that we enjoyed walking to and from the restaurant.

After our tummies were full and we had gluten free croissants and baguettes to take with us, we walked down toward the Eiffel Tower and crossed the Seine before walking back to sit on the steps of the Grand Palais and enjoy the view of it and the Petit Palais before we walked up the Champs Elysèe. We enjoyed looking in the stores and stopped in at the Disney store where my daughter bought a hoodie before we took the Metro to Gare du Nord.

The check-in and customs process was a bit different returning from Paris than it was at St. Pancras in London and we were a bit early, which fortunately helped. Our return on the train was uneventful compared to my delayed trip to London. I did find it a bit jerkier and since the train was flying at pretty close to max speed, it felt a lot different. Overall, the Eurostar isn’t a bad way to travel, but it’s definitely more affordable when you can get the tickets on sale!

 

Next up! Naples!

I’ve always wanted to spend countless time wandering the art museums of Paris. I didn’t get into all of them, but I did make the Louvre!

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The largest art museum in the world, the Louvre is situated on the Right Bank of the Seine and was very close to where we stayed while we were in Paris. The Louvre was once a Palace until Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1686.

Now, the Louvre holds an amazing amount of artwork as well as being it’s own work of architecture when you take the time to look at the outside.

We purchased our tickets in advance. I’ve heard enough stories of people planning to go on the one day of the week the Louvre is closed, not to mention the crazy lines to get in, so we made a point of showing up with ours in hand. Happily, the Louvre does not charge for children, so only my husband and I had to pay admission.

After the usual security checks, we were shunted inside and up a huge escalator to the top floor of the Denon wing where you stand in line until you find yourself in front of the Mona Lisa, set up from the rest of the artwork, and the guides repeating over and over again, “One photo and you go.” Rarely does anyone adhere to that rule before they are shooed into the rest of the Louvre by the guides.

When you leave the Mona Lisa, you walk through a door into the remainder of the top floor (Sully and Richelieu wings). Be aware that you cannot access the Denon wing again unless you return to the ground floor. My advice is to see what you want in the Denon wing on your way up to the Mona Lisa, then work your way through and down the Sully and Richelieu wings. That way, you don’t have to figure out how to return like I did to see Vermeer’s Lacemaker.

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I love how you can see the light through Jesus’ fingers!

That advice given, the Louvre is enormous and unless you have several days to take your time, you almost have to walk through taking glimpses for works you know or works that catch your eye. The staff will let you know where works are if they know them, and most of the major works the Louvre has are indicated on the map. It’s a maze of wonderful things to see and I enjoyed the entire experience—even when my children were done by lunch and wanted to leave.

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The Louvre has something that will speak to your soul if you take the time to search for it. I never know what I’m searching for when I go to an art museum. I definitely have certain works I want to see, but I’m always caught by some work that either by beauty or something technical draws me in. The Louvre was no different, just be prepared to be tired and have sore feet at the end of the day!

Next up . . . Our last day in Paris!

It’s official and up on Audible, Amazon, and should be up on iTunes soon! Melissa Kay Benson did a fantastic job narrating our dear couple and bringing everyone to life—including a few of Grunt’s noises. Just have a listen!

To celebrate, I’m having a giveaway! I searched around for some fun things for you and I hope I didn’t disappoint. Just like the last giveaway, the cat is not included! He’s just very nosy and loves being in the middle of everything. As you can see by the photos, he didn’t hold still as well this time!

 

Included in the giveaway is an Unwrapping Mr. Darcy tote bag, a black cat mug, a package of Tea Pigs chamomile tea, a small black cat tea bag dish shaped like a tea pot (from my trip to Paris), some cat magnets (also from Paris), a felt black cat Christmas ornament (just like Lizzy’s in the book!), a signed paperback of Unwrapping Mr. Darcy (not pictured), and a copy of the audiobook from Audible.

Just leave me a comment below! The giveaway is international. I’ll be choosing a winner on Monday December 10th, so you have until then! I’ll be posting on Austen Variations too, which will give you another chance to enter, so check in there tomorrow.

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