Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Jerome Ladies Survive

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

After the surrender, they returned to Paris. In the immediate aftermath of the Commune’s violence and the Germans’ siege, Paris was a drab, unhappy place.

Ruins everywhere: the sight of the Tuileries and the Hotel de Ville made me cry. St.-Cloud, the scene of many pleasant expeditions, was a thing of the past, the lovely chateau razed to the ground. And if material Paris was damaged, the social fabric was even more so. In vain we tried to pick up the threads. Some of our friends were killed, others ruined or in mourning, and all broken-hearted and miserable, hiding in their houses and refusing to be comforted.
How life had changed for Jennie Jerome! Had she stayed in New York, she would have had a sheltered, rich girl’s life though enlivened no doubt by her debonair father. Now the family was broken. By 1871 she had known the court of Napoleon III and had been introduced to the highest levels of social and political life. During that desperate flight from Paris on that last day, she had experienced danger and had seen death. She had experienced the plight of the refugee. And she had seen the aftermath of defeat.

The Jerome women still had entry to some of the high points of the social season, though their sponsors were increasingly bleak. At the Cowes Regatta, (the same Cowes that her father had crashed a few years earlier), she remembered,
I can see now the Emperor leaning against the mast looking old, ill and sad. His thoughts could not have been other than sorrowful and, even in my young eyes, he seemed to have nothing to live for.
Aristocrats from all over Europe always came to Cowes. The Jeromes made an annual appearance.

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

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