My mother was a fascinating woman who left me a real mix of personal treasures. As a young adult she had spent a lot of time living in Paris and her war work had her based there doing things that she never talked about. However years later an American friend of hers told me that she had been involved with the Resistance, something my mother always refused to corroborate. There's nothing more alluring than mystery, don't you think?
Now this picture below is not my mum. She was far prettier than this lady here who is actually someone that most French people - and quite a few others as well - have heard of. It is a picture of Aurore Dupin who was better known as Georges Sand (1804 - 1876). There is so much written about her that I won't tell you very much here. I'll just tell you a few salient facts.
She was a writer and a feminist; if there had been paparazzi around in her time they would have been stationary outside her house snapping the rich and famous that clustered around her. She would sometimes dress as a man and had a string of lovers, both male and female. However, the love of her life was the composer Chopin. Trust me, if you stopped a French person in the street and asked them who George Sand was, they would know.
Now, you ask yourselves, what has this to do with my mother? Well, one of the things she left me (how glad am I that I don't have brothers and sisters) is a letter written by Georges Sand. As I grew up it was always in a frame in the corner of our living room and I took no interest in it. In fact it was only when I went through all my mother's possessions - about 13 years ago now - that I truly looked at this letter. Since I've been in France and have found out a lot more about French culture, and have also started studying times gone by, I now have an idea of just how famous George Sand is. So, I thought, I can sell this letter for vast sums and make a collector happy.
Well, wouldn't you know it. It turns out that this lady-about-town spent a vast amount of her time writing letters. Unless it is written to, or mentions, Chopin or somebody equally famous then the letter just has interest but no monetary value. There are hundreds of these letters out there. My letter, which is on monogrammed notepaper, is just chit-chat about a holiday, although her writing is hard to read.
Oh well. It will be in my box of treasures for someone else to sort out one day.