Katherine Keenum


A blog about how paintings, photographs, and prints have helped me visualize my fiction—both Where the Light Falls and works-in-progress—with a hope that they will stimulate other writers and readers, too.

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Fiction
An American woman art student meets a Civil War veteran in Belle Époque Paris.

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Picturing a World

Napoleon III

August 15, 2013

Tags: Napoleon III, Cornelia, Grandcourt, Haussmann, World's Fair

Emperor Napoleon III might not be anyone's choice as companion on a Summer Adventure, but he provided worlds of anecdotal material during his reign and he'll take us back into Where the Light Falls. At Cornelia Renick’s house, Maestro Hippolyte Grandcourt regales a lunch gathering with a story about a model who stood in for him while the many official portraits required by an empire were being painted. This anecdote was my way of glancing back at France’s glittering Second Empire (1852–1870), which haunted French memory in the first decades of the succeeding Third Republic (1870–1940). (more…)

Beggar's Polka

March 21, 2013

Tags: Franco-Prussian War, Grandcourt, Jeanette, entertainment, caricature

Hippolyte Grandcourt is a wholly imaginary character whose presence enabled me to incorporate anecdotes about Paris beyond the action of the novel. Don't rely on him to tell the exact truth; don't even rely on him for anecdotes that exactly replicate my sources. He was not, for instance, present when Offenbach handed the mendicant his Beggar's Polka.

The music of Jacques Offenbach is specially associated with the Second Empire of Napoleon III—he's the composer of the Galop Infernal (1858) that we all know as the music to the can-can. (more…)