Alyson Richman's new novel is The Velvet Hours. From her Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: The Velvet Hours was inspired by a true story. Can you describe how much of the novel is historically based, and how you balanced the historical and the fictional as you wrote it?--Marshal Zeringue
A: The novel came about after I read a newspaper article about an apartment in Paris that been mysteriously shuttered for over 70 years and had once belonged to an elusive courtesan by the name of Marthe de Florian.
When the apartment was opened, it resembled a time capsule. Thick veils of dust covered sumptuous antiques and gilded mirrors. Most striking of all was a magnificent portrait by the 19th century Italian painter Giovanni Boldini of Madame de Florian that hung over the marble fireplace. Adding to the allure, love letters, written by the artist, were found in Marthe’s vanity.
No one knows why Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter, Solange Beaugiron closed the apartment during World War II, but as a historical novelist I knew I had plenty of rich material to create a novel.
Factually, we know the apartment was located in the ninth arrondisement of Paris on La Square Bruyere, but other than that, the information is rather scarce.
What we do know is that “Marthe de Florian” was...[read on]