Celebrate Women’s History Month with Novels about the Women who made Champagne!
March, 2023 | Rebecca Rosenberg
by Rebecca Rosenberg
Since March is Women’s History Month, I invite you to join me in celebrating all the female characters in literature who represent real women overcoming real challenges. Women who have helped us grow and progress in ways we can hardly imagine, and yet we bring them to life in our writing. We are all writing historical novels, because even contemporary novels will soon be historical. We women writers are recording the trials and tribulations of women today, yesterday, and tomorrow.
Did you ever experience an identity crisis? I mean with your writing! Ha, ha! In my latest novel, MADAME POMMERY, Creator of Brut Champagne, (3/21/23) I felt compelled to make Madame Pommery as quirky, surprising, and memorable as Barbe-Nicole Clicquot was in CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, the first novel in the series. But Madame Pommery could not be forced into that mold. So, I began to craft Madame Pommery with the clues to her personality found in research and found it helpful to contrast her character to Barbe-Nicole Clicquot. Though these characters were real women, the creative process is the much the same as a fictional character. As a writer, you flesh out the personality of the character from her background, actions, what she has done, what she has said, and what others say about her.
Veuve Clicquot: 24-years-old when Barbe-Nicole Clicquot was widowed, she was a rich spoiled girl, born with the talent of Le Nez, the Nose, an extraordinary sense of smell, which made her persnickety and particular. Uninterested in fashion or society, she was addicted to sweets, short and heavy stature, and a rebel by nature.
Madame Pommery: 40-years-old when Alexandrine Pommery was widowed, she was left without money to raise her family. She had no experience in winemaking, very fashionable, attended finishing schools in Paris and Britain, an aversion to sweets, tall and willowy stature, lived by societies rules and taught etiquette to orphans so they could get jobs.
Similar challenges: First, both women lived during horrific wars that affected them greatly. Second, women could not own businesses in Napoleonic times, unless they were widowed. Because of this law, both Madame Pommery and Veuve Clicquot never remarried, though each woman handled it differently. Barbe-Nicole gave up marriage to keep her business and Madame Pommery conducted a clandestine relationship with her younger manager for thirty years! (A fact Pommery Winery never revealed in my many research sessions, but I learned visiting the house of her lover, Henry Vasnier.) Third, their families challenged them in a myriad of ways! (Can you relate? I can!)
As I write novels and read novels, I am acutely aware that I am fashioning traits into these characters from parts of my own personality and personalities of women I know. That excites me when I read novels, to experience a different journey in life with a character I can relate to in some way. In that way, a novel enriches our lives and expands our experience base from the easy chairs, library nooks, airports and bubble baths from which we read. It’s a heady responsibility to build a character from scratch, and whether they are based on a real person or persons, or entirely fictional, each character is created from our own experiences, and from people we have met. Our motivations, our ghosts, our grandest hopes, and deepest fears, are all there on the page for others to experience life through our words.
As writers we are sharing unique experiences, not one that fits a mold. Each character needs to be unique to themselves, their backgrounds, habits, difficulties, bad experiences and successes and their views of the world. That’s what makes it fun.
So let us celebrate Women’s History Month with each other, writers who change the perspective with our stories.
Check out the free programs at https://womenshistorymonth.gov/ including: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Great Americans” Medal Posthumous Presentation, Her story: How girls and women Transformed the World, Female genius Eliza Harriet at the Dawn of the Constitution, Diverse Voices of the Women of the 117th Congress and many more.
MADAME POMMERY, Creator of Brut Champagne launches March 21, 2023, and you can preorder now. I would love your support with reviews and social posts. Please join my mailing list at www.rebecca-rosenberg.com for invitations to Champagne Widows launch events and fun! Cheers!
ABOUT MADAME POMMERY:
A Champagne Widows novel
Champagne, France, 1860. Madame Pommery, etiquette teacher and orphanage founder, loses her husband and is forced to support her family. With no experience, the forty-year-old widow decides to make champagne. Her unique vision is to change champagne from a sweet dessert wine to a dry, crisp wine to be enjoyed anytime. When champagne makers refuse to teach her their craft, she forges ahead on her own and, in secret, begins the excavation of champagne caves under the Reims city dump.
Soon after, her son and her entire crew are conscripted to fight the Franco-Prussian war, leaving Madame Pommery alone to struggle with her champagne dreams. After Napoleon is captured along with a hundred thousand French troops, the Prussians invaded France, and Prussian General Frederick Franz occupies Madame Pommery’s house as his army headquarters. Undaunted, Pommery uses her secret wine caves to hide the Francs-Tireurs, resistance fighters for France, while she plans to build a spectacular castle winery above the caves. But when her former lover, a Scottish Baron, unexpectedly proposes marriage, Madame Pommery must choose between nobility and her passionate quest for fine champagne and the most beautiful winery in the world.
Based on a true story, Madame Pommery is a heroic novel about a mother and widow who fights the Prussians, the social class system, champagne patriarchs, and champagne tastes to create a champagne legacy.
Rebecca Rosenberg is a champagne geek, lavender farmer, and award-winning novelist about glorious women of the past.
Author visits with Rebecca Rosenberg are available via NovelNetwork.com.
For more about Veuve Clicquot, read my article in Ms. Magazine
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