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The General's Mistress Chapter Titles

I'm working on final revisions right now for The General's Mistress -- what seems like the last hundred yards of a marathon I began literally almost twenty years ago. In March it will be twenty years! And so it's time to put up the chapter titles!

Pick a chapter title and I'll tell you something about what it means and why I chose it.

The Cuckoo's Child
The World of Men
The Runaway Bride
A New Life
The White Queen
Winter in Paris
Among the Marvelous
Dangerous Acquaintances
Games of Passion
Ten of Swords
Dido's Revenge
Walpurgis Night
Nine of Swords
Grand St. Bernard
The First Consul
Fire From Heaven
Fama Volat
The Road Home
Queen of Swords
Two of Chalices
In the City of Light
On Campaign
Echoes of a Beating Drum
Christmas in the Field


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 15th, 2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
For a young woman in the late eighteenth century the world was divided into women's spaces and men's spaces, into the parlors and boudoirs and other places that were part of the women's sphere, and those others that were male. Imagine stepping from Jane Austen's world into Patrick O'Brian's, from the world of genteel country house parties and baths into the world of politics and war. That's what Elza does in this chapter -- she steps into the world of men.
Jan. 15th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
Dido's Revenge for me please!
Jan. 15th, 2012 03:54 pm (UTC)
In which Elza goes on the stage, cast as Dido, Queen of Carthage, and it goes very, very badly! (And somehow she doesn't think this is exactly how it happened....)
Jan. 15th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
I'm curious about The White Queen
Jan. 15th, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Oh good one to pick! In which we meet someone of great future interest, Josephine de Beauharnais, who will one day be Empress of France. There are always two queens on the chessboard, the white queen and the black queen, just as there are two horses that draw the chariot, one white and one black. Josephine is the white queen. We won't meet the black queen until the third book. And she's someone that those readers who read Stealing Fire have met before in the numinous world.
Jan. 15th, 2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Fire From Heaven please!
Jan. 15th, 2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
Of course! This is Elza's second meeting with Napoleon Bonaparte, and yes, it takes its title from the Mary Renault book! Milan, in the summer of 1800. What is a courtesan worth?

And what's the price of a general, Elza asks.

"About that same as a companion," he said easily. "Did you know they used to be the same word? Hetairos, hetaira."
Jan. 16th, 2012 02:08 am (UTC)
Mmm...Queen of Swords or Two of Chalices? How to decide? (Yes, I'm blatantly fishing for both. *grin*)
Jan. 16th, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)
And fish you may! :)

These are the two chapters in which Elza and Michel get together. Queen of Swords is the one in which, for the first time, we get a sense of her as she must appear to him -- the sword queen from the tarot deck, sharp and bright and somewhat brittle, unbending, unchanging and dangerous.

Michel put his head to the side. “Are you trying to make me think worse of you?”

“I want you to know what I am,” I said. “I want you to have no illusions about me.”

“I know what you are,” he said. “At least I think I do.”

And the two of chalices, at least in my deck, is two lovers gazing over the rims of their goblets into each others' eyes, oblivious to the world around them.

Jan. 16th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, awesome. And since Elza and Michel are kind of my favorite, I hit jackpot there, too!

And yes, Elza as Queen of Swords sounds just about right. :D
Jan. 17th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
Very much the Queen of Swords! :)

Two of Chalices is the chapter where they get together.
Jan. 17th, 2012 03:27 pm (UTC)
I assume Nine of swords refers to the tarot card. Could you elaborate please?
Jan. 18th, 2012 05:23 pm (UTC)
The nine of swords is depression, enemies of the mind rather than of the body, disaster that is internal rather than external. Elza's hitting bottom here, but it's because of her own choices, not because of external events. And to her credit, she knows that. Elza's agency is founded in taking responsibility for her own bad decisions rather than casting herself as the victim. She's made some bad ones, and now she's got to dig herself back out of a very deep pit. This chapter is her nadir.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )