Mary’s love affair with Gilbert
is one of the reasons I wanted to write this book. But I am avoiding it at the moment and have burrowed back into descriptions of Robespierre and the Terror. Last week a writer friend gave me Alison Weir’s Queen Elizabeth and told me it would do me good. I didn’t really feel like an encounter with the Tudors right now – life is hard enough without all of their troubles to worry about — but I am so glad I opened it up. I’ve read Weir before, but not recently, and not while writing a book about British women. I love how informal she is and how long her sentences are because they are packed with unapologetically quirky details: the kind of make up Elizabeth wore, who she liked and why — all the gossip. She gives me courage to keep searching for the small things: what kind of shoes Mary wore and the color of Gilbert’s hair. And Robespierre’s too, I suppose. But I already know his hair was dark brown.