Paris, 1823

The Thursday Murder Club was so lovely. Self finished reading it yesterday. The ending was bittersweet. But her favorite characters are still alive. So, conceivably, there might be a follow-up.

What she appreciated most of all about TTMC was its tone. The slyness, the wry detachment with which human failings and affairs of the heart were viewed. Oh, of course there was heartache. But there was no angst.

Now, she is reading a book about the English aristocracy in the first half of the nineteenth century. This was the class that produced the officers who ordered the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, in the Crimea. Hence, the title of the book (taken from the Alfred, Lord Tennsyon poem about the battle): The Reason Why. Of course, we must get to know all about this class. One of the major players was James, the Seventh Earl of Cardigan.

Young, handsome, prevented from joining the Army because he was his parents’ only male heir, he

had taken to spending a considerable amount of time in Paris. The pleasures which Paris offers, her elegance, the refinement of her luxury, had never been in sharper contrast to London than in 1823. Paris had invented the restaurant, and in place of the rough, bawling, steamy eating-houses of London were novel resorts with wood fires, thick carpets, snowy table-cloths. In place of the gargantuan excesses of the Regency, tables groaning under a mass of food, diners pouring bottle after bottle down their throats until they slid under the table, eating and drinking were raised to a delicate art. The city itself was still intricate, fantastic, and medieval.

The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, pp. 10-11

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