Eternal Beauty in Black
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Friday, August 29, 2008Unchained, Unbound
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night with a nagging feeling. I had just seen Wide Sargasso Sea (1993 Karina Lombard version) and I couldn't get a particular scene out of my head. I had read the book when I was a teen but this was the first time I had actually seen the movie. I was inspired to write a story just based off said scene alone. I got up to write the story but I couldn't for some reason. Instead I did some research on a particular figure that was in my head: a former slave turned aristocrat named Isabeau...a woman who took France's breath away. I couldn't find a lick on her but I wanted to tell her story. I knew there had to be something out there about her, where she lived, why she left her home to go to Paris.
For months I dug and dug and I finally hit pay dirt. Isabeau's story told from her own lips thanks to Madame du Barry's recordings. Suddenly this woman's story contained me. I know if I try to publish it, I'll have a heck of a time trying to convince publishers that Isabeau's story will resonate with readers. After all, here was a woman who's spirit extended no bounds. She lived in a world of poverty, possession, jealousy, admiration, more jealousy, privilege, regret, betrayal and love. Isabeau's story has to be told and I'm still consumed by the words I read that told of her life. After living in a world of oppression based a culture's idea of her people's inferiority and soon being admired for her quiet strength alongside her "exotic" beauty, Isabeau is the epitome of rags to riches. Still she is also seen as the other: a former slave woman who much of America may not believe had France on its knees whenever she was around.
And don't even get me started on the reason she left her home. It may cause some controversy based on that alone.
In any event, this woman is an inspiration because she decided to follow her heart despite the odds and she refused to be held down by anything. She wanted to go a world where men didn't look upon her color as something of an exoticism nor to be shunned. She wanted to love and be loved for who she was.
In our current time where historical romance equals Regency ladies and lords, Scottish highlanders and ladies, untamed Native American heroes and pale, "dainty" white female heroines, it's difficult to find other cultures and pairings that have lived and loved throughout history. Part of it is a society which doesn't want to recognize anything other than the current majority. But such was not always the case. The opposite of the majority was once revered and admired as the standard of beauty. Perhaps as we look closer, such was the case throughout history and even to know. Stereotypes were put in place to deter interest to attraction of minority men and women. But the human spirit is an untamable spirit and there's only so much you can try to contain before the truth and strength of mind break through those chains.