Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Remember When . . . Monaco had no casino?

Back in the day, I decided to write a book about a British noblewoman raised as a princess in some other country. When I was 13, this country was Bratinburg, a figment of my imagination. Then when I was 15 I learned more about Monaco and fell in love. So I rewrote said story to have my darling Brook raised as a Monagasque princess.

In typical me-fashion, I just made it all up;-) Made up the royal family, made up the circumstances . . . the only thing that was accurate was the name of the principality and the fact that they spoke French. A few years later I decided that didn't cut it so did some more intense research. And then a few years after that decided it still didn't cut it so did some really intense research.

What I learned was that I picked a heck of a time to set a story in Monaco. If I plopped my fictitious character into the Grimaldi family, her father would have been Prince Charles--the one that Monte Carlo is named after. Her little brother would have been Prince Albert, arguably one of the most influential rulers of the tiny nation, who did a lot to lead it into modernity. During those years, they lost 90% of their land when two towns rebelled and joined Italy. It was just before the 1861 war for Italian unification, Sardinia was still their protector instead of France . . . and this was just supposed to be backstory!

I had a lot of fun subtly incorporating these domestic troubles into the story, even as my character quickly left Monaco for England. Through letters and a trip back to Monaco-ville, she got to see the struggles the Grimaldis went through as they tried to find a way to stay afloat financially with so many resources lost.

The Grimaldis' answer was the famous casino. Think what you will about gambling, but there's one thing I really admire about this--no Monagasque citizen is allowed to gamble. Hilarious, right? They can work there, but that's it. Otherwise, it's purely a means of stripping foreigners of their wealth, lol.

My heroine is torn about her family's decision to open the casino . . . how about you?


  1. I don't blame your heroine one iota! I'd be terribly conflicted about this...but human nature being what it is, perhaps less so as I saw the bored, rich foreigners filing into the casino to be stripped of their moolah! LOL.

  2. Can I just say for the record that historical writers rock? There's no way I could do what you guys do.

  3. About 20 years ago I read a biography of Grace Kelly...I want to say the author was Philip English...Steven English? Not sure but he was an official biographer of Grace of Monaco, and I found the principality to be rather facsinating. I'll have to find and reread that book some day.

  4. Grace Kelly made a guest appearance in the mind of the contemporary heroine in my WIP last week. Ah, Grace Kelly . . .