This year, I have read seven books. Most of them were biographies, including Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sung King, and Marie Antoinette: The Journey, both by Antonia Fraser. I am currently reading David Starkey’s Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne. While the Fraser biographies were well done (especially Marie Antoinette), I still find that I prefer biographies about people who lived between 1100 and 1600. I am a medievalist at heart.
It’s a brilliant time to be a fan of biographies, if the history section as the bookstore is any indication. Historians, be they men or women (but mostly women), seem to have realized that there were women in history, and their actions were important, too. I’ve spotted new biographies of Catherine de Medici, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, Elizabeth of York, and Caterina Sforza among others. The men of the era have been investigated and written about endlessly, and they’re interesting enough. But it’s far more interesting to read about the women who rose above their “stations” and thrived, despite the rules and the men who tried to keep them down.
And while right now my mind is in 16th century London with a twenty-two year old Elizabeth I, in two weeks I will actually be in London. I haven’t started bouncing off the walls with excitement yet, but it’s coming. I’ve already had a few dreams where my travels go completely awry, but in the waking world I have determined that nothing will keep me from having a fantastic time while I’m there. Not even the anxiety that comes with traveling alone.
This will be my first trip to Europe and my first flight over an ocean and- while many other people have made solo journeys that involve far more peril than navigating the streets of London- I am a bit anxious. Will I get lost? Will I miss my flight? Will I be completely overcharged for cab fare?
I keep having to remind myself that, even if I do get lost, people are generally a friendly lot and will give a bedraggled traveler directions when she’s lost. And if Gertrude Bell could ride- and thrive- across the sands of Arabia with a trusty camel and her wits, then I can certainly navigate London without falling into the Thames.