International Best Seller Colin Falconer

stories of romance and epic adventure

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israel, palestine, jerusal

 

It is 1933 and two young women from very different worlds face an uncertain future. Both are in love, but both are faced with an impossible choice.

Marie Helder is a butcher’s daughter in a little town in Bavaria, as Germany begins its love affair with Hitler and National Socialism. She has a schoolgirl crush on a boy in her class. His family is rich, well respected – and Jewish.

Far away in Palestine, the centuries-old rhythms of sleepy Rab’allah have been disturbed by the building of a Jewish kibbutz on the swamp in the valley below. The Jews are the future, the twentieth century. The Jews are the enemy.

Sarah Landauer does not think of herself as anyone’s enemy – and neither does the young man she loves, Rishou Hass’an.

But his father is muktar of the Arab village, and he can see the future sweeping towards them, and it fills him with dread.

From the snow-hushed winter streets of Nazi Bavaria, to the burned hills of Palestine, from the Alte Post to the Al-Aqsa, four very different families prepare for the deadly conflicts to come.

Should Marie Helder and Sarah Landauer turn on those they love?

From the holocaust to the bloody creation of the state of Israel in 1948, romance and terror collide in a novel of ancient hatreds and forbidden loves.

ISABELLA, NOW EXCLUSIVE TO AMAZON

She was raised as a royal French princess, trained to marry and to obey.

Yet she became the only woman ever to invade England – and take the crown by force.

Who was she? And why were you never taught more about her at school?

Isabella, Braveheart of France,  is now exclusive to Amazon.

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America’s most loved novel

In a 2014 Harris poll, women in the United States voted it their second most favourite book, and their most loved novel.

(Number #1 spot is still held by the Bible.)

The novel was: ‘Gone with the Wind’.

It is the one they give a damn about the most.

But who was the woman who wrote it – and what was her inspiration?

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, bestsellerWell, her name was Margaret Mitchell – and she was bored.

She had broken her ankle and it was taking a long time to heal. All she could do was read.

Her husband was fed up with bringing home stacks of book from the library every day.

Why don’t you write your own book? he said and bought her a Remington Portable No. 3 typewriter.

So she did.

Continue reading

NOT TONIGHT, JOSEPHINE

“I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.”

NOT TONIGHT JOSÉPHINENapoléon Bonaparte will be remembered as one of history’s greatest generals; yet the one victory that seemed always to elude him was the battle for the affections of his own wife.

She was born Marie Josèphe Rose Tascher de La Pagerie, the daughter of a wealthy Creole sugar baron in Martinique.

But after hurricanes destroyed the family plantation, she was married off to the Vicomte de Beauharnais in Paris in October, 1779, in order to preserve the family fortune.

It was an unhappy marriage, but it produced two children, Eugène and Hortense.

During the Reign of Terror, in 1794, her husband was arrested as an aristocratic ‘suspect’ by the Jacobins; Joséphine herself was imprisoned a month later. Continue reading

THE MAN WHO CONQUERED MEXICO WAS A WOMAN

History will say that Hernan Cortes conquered Mexico.

Yet he couldn’t have done it without a woman named … Malinali.

Aztec, Cortes, MalincheHernan Cortes  was probably one of the greatest of the conquistadores – which is in itself a back-handed compliment, like being the best of the Nazis or Suicide Bomber of the Year.

He was a man of ruthless genius, a Christian crusader possessed of unparalleled greed, even for those times – but his achievements were breath-taking.

He conquered what is now Mexico with an army of less than 500 Spaniards, not all of them soldiers and not all of them loyal, while ostensibly on a simple scouting mission from Cuba.

He did not defeat the Aztecs with Spanish force of arms – they were a nation of a million people – but with an astonishing bluff.

 

http://colinfalconer.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/el-promo-or-how-to-sell-your-book-in-latin-america-and-have-a-blonde-in-a-black-bikini-pin-you-to-a-psychiatrists-couch-on-national-television-2/Through astonishing good fortune, steely determination, and the help of a Mexican slave girl he achieved the impossible.

The story of the invasion is one of the great epics of history, a triumph of human endurance and determination.

It was also an unmitigated disaster for the indigenous population and resulted in unimaginable misery for hundreds of thousands of people.

The story of Hernan Cortes and Mexico is also the story of a woman named Malinali.

Guillermo Marín

source: Wolfgang Sauber

Her exact origins are unclear –she was thought to have been a Mayan princess by some – but her place in Mexican history is unparalleled.

Without her, Cortes would have got no further than a Yucatan beach.

Her name was corrupted by history to Malinche; and five hundred years later her name is still reviled. Even today the word malinchista is shouted across the floor of the Mexican parliament as a deadly insult – it means a traitor to the Mexican people.

Yet was she the monster that history make her out to be? 

Aztec, Malinche, CortesThere is only one person who ever knew the truth and that was Malinali Tenepal herself – La Malinche. She was Cortes’ concubine, but that was not why she is important.

She was also his translator, the only one who ever knew what was being said by both sides, the only one who spoke both Spanish and nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Her motives, what she said, how she said it; these things will always be a matter of debate – it is what makes hers such a gripping and intriguing story.

What is certain is that in almost every contemporary drawing and painting of Cortes’ entrada, she is at his side, whispering in his ear.

Aztec, Malinche, Cortes

And every night she shared the conquistadore’s bed.

Did she love him? No one can say.

Did he use her for his own purposes and then cast her aside? Of course he did.

He was only ever interested in gold and glory. 

Aztec, Malinche, CortesFittingly perhaps, Cortes’ life after the conquest was one of frustration and humiliation. History has not been kind .

These days his ancient bones molder in a walled-up in a casket by the altar in the Church of Jesus Navareno close to the place where he first met the Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma.

Aztec, Malinche, Colin Falconer

Romanian translation

And Malinali?

No one knows what became of her. It is believed she died an old woman in Spain. Cortes showed his gratitude by marrying her off to someone else.

Foreign authors who dare write her story still get assaulted with man bags (see previous post.)

But for all that, her tale, and that of the conquistadores, remains one of the most intriguing and tragic sagas in history.
Aztec, Malinche, Colin Falconer

Turkish edition

The story of Malinali – it was worth getting attacked by a man bag …

Aztec, Cortes, Malinali, Colin Falconer

 

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COLIN FALCONER

“EL PROMO” OR: HOW TO SELL YOUR BOOK IN LATIN AMERICA AND HAVE A BLONDE IN A BLACK BIKINI PIN YOU TO A PSYCHIATRIST’S COUCH ON NATIONAL TELEVISION

Everything you’ve ever heard about Mexico City is true.

Mexico, Aztec, Malinche

photograph: Fidel Gonzalez

Mostly.

The city contains roughly the same population as the whole of Australia and twice as many cars as people. They say that one day walking in the streets of El DF is equivalent to smoking a pack of forty cigarettes.

I was there for a week a few years back to promote a book I had written about the conquest of Mexico. I had not read the book myself on anything except my laptop and the Australian edition was still in editing.

So it was slightly surreal to fly halfway across the world and discover it has been a bestseller in another country for weeks.    Continue reading

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO ANASTASIA?

Anastasia.

ANASTASIA, ROMANOVS, CZAR, RUSSIAN REVOLUTIONThey made a movie about her with Ingrid Bergman in the starring role.

Disney had a huge box office success with a full length animated feature.

She embodied the legend of the lost princess. We all so wanted to believe that she somehow survived.

What really happened?

Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was born in 1901, the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia.

She was the youngest of four sisters, Olga, Tatiana and Maria; she had a younger brother, Alexei.

She was not raised as a Disney princess; she and her sisters slept on hard camp cots without pillows, had cold baths every morning, and were expected to tidy their own rooms.

Anastasia, Romanovs, Russian Revolution

Romanov-Collection-General-Collection-Beinecke-Rare-Book-and-Manuscript-Library-Yale-University

Neither was she Ingrid Bergman despite her blue eyes and strawberry-blonde hair.

She was short, and a little chubby, and more than a little mischievous. Anecdotes tell of her deliberately tripping up servants and climbing trees and then refusing to come down.

She once rolled a rock into a snowball and threw it at her older sister Tatiana, knocking her down. Her distant cousin, Nina Georgievna, called her: “nasty to the point of being evil”.

Well not entirely. During World War I she and her sister visited wounded soldiers at a private hospital in the grounds of the Alexander Palace at Tsarskoye Selo, near Saint Petersburg. Too young to become Red Cross nurses like their mother and elder sisters, played checkers and billiards with the soldiers.

In February 1917, she and her family were placed under house arrest in the Alexander Palace. Her father abdicated the throne soon afterwards. But after the Bolsheviks seized power, they were moved to Yekaterinburg.

She and her sisters sewed jewels into their dresses to hide them from their captors. Locked away in ‘The House of Special Purpose’ Anastasia and her sisters performed plays for her parents.

One of the guards said of her: “She was a very charming devil! She was mischievous and … lively, and was fond of performing comic mimes with the dogs, as though they were performing in a circus.”

She would also stick her tongue out at Yakob Yurovsky, the captain of the guards, behind his back.

The House of Special Purpose

The House of Special Purpose

But the conditions of their captivity, took its toll. On July 14, 1918, local priests conducted a private church service for the family. They said that the girls had become despondent and desperate.

“Something has happened to them in there.”

What did happen to them? That we shall never know. There were rumours that the girls and even their mother were assaulted.

Were they?

By now Russia had descended into civil war. By the time anti-Bolshevik forces captured Yekaterinberg the Romanovs had disappeared.

What happened to them?

Anastasia, Romanovs, Russian revolutionIt was assumed they had been murdered, but how and when was never really certain until the “Yurovsky Note” was found in 1989. The document was Yurovsky’s report to his Bolshevik masters of what had taken place.

On the night of 17 July the family were woken and told they were being moved, because of the fighting. They and their small circle of servants were herded into a basement and a few minutes later Yurovsky came in and told them they were to be shot.

They immediately started firing.

Chaos.

Thick smoke from the ancient revolvers filled the room. And the girls would not die – unknown to their executioners, the jewels hidden in their corsets acted as bullet proof vests. The executioners resorted to bayoneting and clubbing their terrified victims to death.

The bodies were then thrown on trucks. On the way to the proposed burial site the trucks got bogged. The bodies were hastily buried, then reburied again the following night.

With so much bungling, it is clear why stories started to circulate that someone may have survived.

Anna Anderson

Anna Anderson

The Bolsheviks tried to keep the executions secret but stories soon got out but these were complicated by other rumors of trains and houses being searched for an “Anastasia Romanov”, and eight witnesses even reported seeing an injured girl who answered Anastasia’ description at Cheka headquarters in Perm.

Anastasia’s supposed survival became one of the most celebrated mysteries of the last century. At least ten women claimed to be her. Her best known Anastasia impostor, Anna Anderson, appeared in 1922.

She said that she had feigned death among the bodies of her family and servants, and was able to make her escape with the help of a compassionate guard who noticed she was still breathing.

Her legal battle for recognition which was begun in 1938 became the longest running case ever heard by the German courts, where it was officially filed. Her claim was rejected in 1970.

She died in 1984 but it was not until ten years later DNA testing proved that she was an impostor.

The Romanovs’ burial site remained secret until the communists fell from power. It was finally excavated in the woods outside Yekaterinburg in 1991. Incredibly it held just nine of the expected eleven remains.

After DNA testing, it was found that Alexei and Anastasia’s bodies were missing.

anastasia, romanovs, russian revolutionFinally, on August 23, 2007, a Russian archaeologist announced the discovery of two burned, partial skeletons at another site nearby. Further DNA testing confirmed they belonged to the Tsarevich Alexei and one of his sisters.

Like the solving of all mysteries, it was of itself bittersweet.

The lost princess had finally been found, but not in the way that we had all hoped. Yet Anastasia is yet to be united with her family.

Last October she and her brother were supposed to be buried in the Romanov tomb in Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg but the ceremony was blocked by the Russian Orthodox church.

And so our lost princess will have to wait a while longer before she finally comes home.

 

 

If you’re interested in the Anastasia legend, you’ll like this as well:

Anastasia, Colin Falconer

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WAS THERE REALLY A JACK AND ROSE ON THE TITANIC?

And did they have gorgeous sweaty sex in the backseat of a 1912 Renault?

The answers to these questions are: yes, yes and probably not.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson, James Cameron, the writer and director of ‘Titanic’ actually based Kate Winslet’s character, Rose du Witt Bukater, on American artist Beatrice Wood.

Like Rose, Beatrice was the daughter of wealthy socialites and defied her parents to pursue a career as an artist. She lived an extraordinary life, earning accolades as an actress as well as pioneering the Dada art movement (she was called the ‘Mama of Dada’).

She also gained a great reputation as a sculptor and potter and her private affairs – she was reputed to have had a love triangle with artist Henry Duchamp and his friend Henri-Pierre Roché – scandalised America.

Then, when she was 90, she took up writing. Her 1985 autobiography was called ‘I Shock Myself.’

She was 105 when she died – when asked the secret of her longevity she said:

‘I owe it all to chocolate and young men.’

But Beatrice was never on the Titanic.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson,

Beatrice Wood photo: Sheryl Reiter

There were two Roses who were and who survived the sinking: one was Rosa Abbott, a third class passenger, who jumped into the water with her two sons. She the only woman and the only passenger to be pulled from the water and survive – the rest were crew.

Sadly, her two sons died in the water.

The other Rose was Miss Rose Amélie Icard, who was a maid to Mrs George Nelson Stone. She and Mrs Stone were rescued by the Carpathia in lifeboat 6.

But what about Jack Dawson?

There was a J Dawson on the Titanic, but the ‘J’ stood for Joseph, not Jack and he was a member of the Titanic crew.

He had grown up in the notorious Monto tenements slums of Dublin and when he was twenty he escaped by joining the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted to Netley, one of the largest military hospitals in England – just three miles from Southampton.

It was there that he met a man called John Priest, a coal trimmer on the White Star liner, Majestic.

Through him he met Priest’s sister, Nellie, and the two fell in love.

titanic, jack and rose, renault, jack dawson, After leaving the Army, Dawson joined Priest in the boiler room of the Majestic, before they both signed on for the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

When they hit the iceberg, Dawson had the foresight to put his National Sailors and Firemen’s Union card – his card number was 35638  – into his dungarees before going topside. The card was found on his body the next day.

His friend John Priest survived; but tragically his sister Nellie lost her sweetheart.

Did her heart go on? We will never know.

Dawson was buried in Nova Scotia where he rested in relative obscurity before finding world fame 85 years later after the release of the film.

His grave is number 227 in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia and has since become a shrine to many of the movie’s fans, who leave photographs, cinema stubs and pictures of themselves on the grave.

graves from the Titanic at Fairview Lawn (Photo: Archer10 (Dennis)

those who died on the Titanic are buried here (Photo: Archer10 (Dennis)

Some even leave hotel keys – though I wonder what they’d do if they heard the key turning in the lock at night, as Jack has now been dead a hundred and four years?

Now the question you’ve all been dying to know

Would getting on the door have saved Jack?

the iceberg that sunk the Titanic - but its fame has since melted away

the iceberg that sunk the Titanic – but its fame has since melted away

On the night of the sinking, the sea temperature was around 28° F.

Our bodies lose heat about thirty times faster in water than in the air and when our core temperature falls under 89° F, we start to lose consciousness. Under 86° F and heart failure can occur, which is the most common cause of hypothermia-related deaths.

So Jack could have survived for up to an hour, as he was young and fit and not trying to swim – people who move around in the water lose heat much faster.

However several people died from cold that night even in the lifeboats, so even if Rose had helped him up onto the door – and I still think, after all he’d done for her, she could have had a better go – there were no guarantees.

Now, more importantly – could they have had sex in the back seat of Jackie’s car?

from Titanic (1997) - copyright 20th Century Fox/Paramount - claimed under fair use

from Titanic (1997) – copyright 20th Century Fox/Paramount – claimed under fair use

It is believed there were about thirty cars in the Titanic’s hold, all but five belonging to first class passengers returning from touring holidays in Europe – but only one is actually listed on the manifest.

It belonged to Titanic survivor William Earnest Carter, and it was a 1912 35 HP Renault Coupe de Ville.

Cameron looked for Carter’s original documents for the vehicle so that the car could be recreated almost exactly in the film. But what Cameron didn’t show us is that it was almost certainly packed in a wooden crate so unless Jack had a claw-hammer with him, the answer to the question above is – ‘probably not.’.

Besides, even if the car wasn’t in a box – I don’t believe our Jack would ever have cheated on Nellie.

His heart would have just gone on.

 

Everyone loves a love story. Love can bring out the worst in us, but it can also bring out the very best. Like this … 

 

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WHAT WAS THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE FRENCH PRINCESS IN BRAVEHEART?

GORGEOUS. DEFIANT. LOOKS GREAT IN A SKIRT.

But enough about Mel Gibson – let’s talk about Sophie’s Marceau’s character in Braveheart, the beautiful French princess who is also Edward Longshank’s daughter-in-law. In the film she has an affair with Mel and then gets pregnant to him, breaking the royal English line.

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II

Sophie Marceau in Braveheart (20th Century Fox)

It is a tale of adventure, romance and terrible butchery – with English and Scottish history being mutilated beyond recognition.

But who was the REAL Isabella of France?

She was born in 1295, so she was ten years old and still living in France when Mel Gibson – William Wallace – was executed, so she certainly never met him, or have an adulterous affair with him.

The facts of her life are far more spectacular.

Isabella in fact succeeded where Wallace didn’t; she raised an army, invaded England and deposed Longshank’s son, Edward II, and ruled as regent for four years.

So why doesn’t history remember her as Braveheart? 

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II Isabella’s father was Philip IV of France – Phillip the Fair.

Yes, she was beautiful, but she was royal, and raised to be more than Mel Gibson’s love interest.

She was highly intelligent and had great diplomatic skill.

At 12 she was married to Longshank’s son, Edward II, as part of a political alliance.

But Edward soon became notable for his lack of aptitude for kingship – as well as his lack of interest in women.

That doesn’t make him the bad guy in the story either – but for a bright and politically astute woman, it was a terrible match.

Roll the clock forward fifteen years …

Isabella is starved of affection and has been sidelined in the political arena by her husband’s “favourites”. Were men like Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser the Younger just his advisers – or were they more than that?

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II

Isabella condemning the producers of Braveheart to a grisly death

Whatever the truth, by the time she was thirty, she faced a stark choice; retire to the country and spend the rest of her life with her needlework – or rebel.

She chose: Freedom!

When I went to school in England, I was told the last person to invade England was William the Conqueror in 1066. This was actually not true.

In 1326 Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, raised a mercenary army in the Low Countries – by marrying her oldest son off to a the daughter of the Count of Hainaut.

As invasions go, it wasn’t quite D-Day.

Braveheart, Isabella, Edward II

Castle Rising photo: William M Connolley

The fleet got lost and landed miles from where she and Mortimer had planned.

Not that it mattered; by then, her husband Edward was so deeply unpopular that the barons of England welcomed her and Mortimer with open arms and the invasion became more of a bloodless coup.

She named herself Queen Regent and she and Mortimer assumed the rule of England – and not once did she have to wear a kilt and paint herself blue.

But it didn’t last.

Four years later Mortimer was himself deposed by Isabella’s own son and she was retired to Castle Rising in Norfolk and lived on for many years in considerable style, until her death in 1358.

Isabella, Braveheart, Edward IIPoor Sophie Marceau. History has repeatedly painted her as a beautiful ‘femme fatale’  – cruel and manipulative, and calling her The She-Wolf of France.

Braveheart was really the final insult.

And Edward II? Although he was an accomplished warrior – if not a very able tactician – he has similarly been portrayed as weak and effeminate.

Was that really how it was? It seems trite, doesn’t it?

I always imagined the truth to be less simple, and far more intriguing …

Isabella, Braveheart, Edward IIAMAZON buy3._V192207739_IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST WHY NOT JOIN MY NEWSLETTER?

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