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Mistral’s Daughter

Looking out at the bleak miserable weather today, I was thinking it was a nice sort of day for curling up with a big bar of Galaxy, a huge mug of tea and a blockbuster. With the obvious exception of Jilly Cooper (her earlier ones are best – Riders and Rivals are both brilliant; I’m not so keen on anything after Polo) I’ve never been a fan of blockbuster fiction. I do have one favourite though and that’s Mistral’s Daughter. It’s about three generations of gorgeous red-headed models/artists’s muses with fabulous names (Maggy, Teddy, Fauve) and their shenanigans between 1920s Paris, 1950s Provence and 1970s New York, most of which involve the fiery painter Julien Mistral.

It has everything you want from a blockbuster: gorgeous men, glamorous women, fabulous clothes, love, war, painting, fashion, rags to riches etc. I am just old enough (ahem) to remember the TV series with its theme song by Nana Mouskouri (she of the glasses). In retrospect I think I must have been watching a repeat as I was 7 in 1984 and surely not old enough to watch saucy blockbusters … but I can remember finding it fascinating, probably also appreciating the fact that all the main characters seem to have red hair.

In any case, I was idly googling Judith Krantz just now and discovered that her first book Scruples was published when she was 50. According to Wikipedia, she started writing it after she took flying lessons with her husband to overcome a long-held fear of flying – which helped her overcome a similar fear of writing. If it’s true then I think that’s a pretty inspiring story. Aspiring writers, don’t give up! (but don’t feel you have to jump out of a plane to write your book either).

Any other Krantz fans out there?


  1. I'm more Cooper than Krantz myself, but I did love a good blockbuster in my time. Do you think they were specific products of the Eighties or is anyone out there writing them?

    Meanwhile, I find the idea of success at fifty very very inspiring!

  2. I remember reading Scruples, Princess Daisy and Mistral's Daughter, in addition to other huge blockbluster type novels as a teenager in the early 90's. Was never as into Jilly Cooper but did read Imogen in college after speaking to you. Aoife

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