Monday, September 19, 2016

I Believe in Prophetic Dreams and so did Matilde of Ringelheim!

Do you believe in prophetic dreams? I never used to believe in them, but then something happened that forever changed my mind and convinced me otherwise. I dreamed the lottery numbers. Yes, I did!

In my dream, a friend approached me with a lottery ticket we had purchased together. He told me that our ticket had won a $46 million dollar jackpot and that we would split it. In my dream I took the ticket into my hand and studied the numbers. 3, 18, 21, 38, and my excitement grew. That’s when I began to awaken, and as I slowly rose out of my slumber, I suddenly sprang out of bed in a frantic search for pen and paper. By the time I stumbled around the kitchen and found what I was looking for, I had forgotten the last two numbers and could only remember those precious first four numbers.

As a non-believer of prophetic dreams, I didn’t make too much of it. That was my first mistake! I did, however, go to the grocery store on my way to work that night and bought  lottery ticket. The jackpot was $10 million dollars. Of course I played those four numbers – 3, 18, 21, 38, but then used 46 and 23 as the missing numbers because they were the other two numbers mentioned in my dream – the $46 million divided by the two of us – hence $23. That was my second mistake. I should have bought enough tickets and played every combo of numbers to replace those two numbers I could not remember. 

That entire day, I experienced very strong feelings that I was going to win. During my drive to work, I even planned what to do with the winnings. In the middle of my shift, I took a break and called the lottery line. The four numbers I recalled had won, but my choice of 46 and 23 were wrong. Instead of $10 million dollars, I won a mere $87.00.

I am now completely convinced in the veracity of prophetic dreams. Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his death. Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity came to him in a dream. Mark Twain dreamed of his brother’s death on a steamship. And there are many, many more examples throughout history.

It is no wonder that after my own personal experience, the topic of prophetic dreams has fascinated me for years. When I accidentally stumbled upon a bio of a little know woman of history named Matilde of Ringelheim, one phrase caught my attention – her prophetic dreams. It immediately sparked my imagination. The more I delved into her life, the more fascinated I became. In Matilde’s case, her dreams foretold of her family’s successes and their deaths. The most famous of her dreams happened when she lay upon her deathbed and was visited by her grandson. She had dreamed about his death and before he left her bedside, she insisted he take her last possession, her burial garments. A few days later, he died an accidental death.

I recently released a fictionalized biography about her life entitled THE PROPHETIC QUEEN. The book follows history as closely as possible, while exploring her thoughts, emotions, and reactions to her ability to prophesize the future through her dreams. A truly fascinating woman of history!



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Mata Hari - Mail Order Bride, Dancer, Spy

 Mata Hari



Her name was Margaretha Zelle and she was born in the Netherlands to a Japanese mother and a Dutch father. Her father made hats for a living and sent her off to be educated at exclusive schools. had her educated at provided her with a was able to provide her with a great education. In 1889, when she was 13 years old, her family fell on hard times. Her father went bankrupt and her mother died two years later. Her father then remarried and Margaretha went to live with a godfather. She entered into training to become a kindergarten teacher, but when she was caught flirting with her headmaster, her godfather pulled her out of the school. Matters deteriorated and she soon fled to the Hague.

That's when she saw an ad in a newspaper that would change her life. Dutch Colonial Army Captain Rudolf MacLeod who lived in Indonesia was seeking a wife. He was the son of a Captain and a Baroness, and twenty years older. Nevertheless, she responded to the ad and they were later married in Amsterdam, thrusting Margaretha into the echelons of the Dutch noble class. They moved to Java and Margaretha bore her husband two children. 

But all was not well in paradise. The captain was a raging alcoholic who abused her and beat her at every opportunity, blaming her for his failings. And he kept a concubine on the side. Their relationship was on again / off again. In between she took dancing lessons and adopted the name Mata Hari. But the Captain continued to abuse her. Things really fell apart when their children contracted syphillis via mom and dad. Their daughter survived, but their son died. Some blamed the death on poison by a servant, but it was never verifed. The death was the death blow to their marriage. They divorced and Margaretha gained custody of their daughter. The Captain failed to pay the court ordered alimony and child support, and Margaretha struggled to support herself and her daughter. One day, after the Captain visited the child, he failed to return her to Margaretha who, unable to fight, accepted the loss of her child to her husband.

Margaretha moved to Paris where she worked as a circus horse rider, an artist's model, and exotic dancer. She was the queen of flirtation, which led to promiscuousness. She shed her inhibitations like an unnecessary skin and pushed the limits when dancing. Her attraction for men in uniform led her from one affair to another. She invented a colorful history for herself and danced for audiences with her heart and soul. She made herself famous. 

World War I was beginning, and Mata Hari took up with a handsome Russian pilot, whom she fell in love with. Unfortunately, he was shot down and hospitalized. The French authorities refused to allow her to see him unless she spied on the Germans for them. Reluctantly, she agreed. Of course, matters backfied and she was caught and imprisoned.

Sadly, she was convicted and ordered executed by firing squad on October 15, 1917. She was not tied to the stake and refused a blindfold. She blew a kiss to the gunmen. Rumor has it that she even flashed her breasts to them. She was 41 years old. After the volley of shots rang out, she slowly fell to her knees, her head raised, and without the slightest change of expression on her face. For the fraction of a second it seemed she tottered there, on her knees, gazing directly at those who had taken her life. Then she fell backward, bending at the waist, with her legs doubled up beneath her. A non-commissioned officer then walked up to her body, pulled out his revolver, and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.

The media labelled her a femme fatale, a dangerous, seductive woman who used her sexuality to effortlessly manipulate men, but in reality, she was na├»ve and easily duped, a victim of men rather than a victimizer.   

Author Michelle Moran has written a fascinating and heartwrenching historical rendering of Mata Hari's life and death. My review of the book follows: 

From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From Indian temples and Parisian theatres to German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

My Opinion:

Mata Hari is a fascinating person who many people, especially women, will not like. Not every protaganist has to be liked, and Mata Hari is not a usual type of heroine we find in books. Promiscuous and a notorious flirt, she was a woman who fell on hard circumstances who had no choice but to use her beauty and body to earn a living. She pushed the limits in dance and in chasing and using men for her own benefit. One constancy in the novel was her love and regrets pertaining to her daughter. And this helped humanize her, redeem her a bit in the reader's eyes. 

The book is perfect length and an easy read. Michelle Moran balances Mata Hari's passions and motivations in a realistic way. I did begin to like her and feel sorry for her and the mess she had made of her life. Of course, the novel did not dwell too heavily on the trial and convinction, but the execution scene was heart-wrenching and poignant. The book left me feeling more like Mata Hari was used as a scapegoat and I did not fully believe she was calculating enough to be such a dangerous spy. I had a sense that politics and cover-ups may have been at play as other readily blamed her to save their own skin. 

This is an excellent historical biography about a notorious woman of history and left me feeling unconvinced about the hand that fate dealt her. Highly recommended. 


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Josie Earp - A Bold and Brash Woman of the Wild West

Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp
Bold, brash, daring, spontaneous, audacious, opinionated, and Jewish, Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp was one of the most colorful women of the wild west. After running away from home, she met and fell in love with sheriff, gambler, and businessman Wyatt Earp. Together, they conquered enemies, established the law, and socialized with some of America’s most fascinating people.
But Wyatt Earp was not the first man she fell in love with and became engaged to.  
Wyatt Earp
After running away from home at seventeen, she joined the Pauline Markham Theater Company. There she met the notorious rake, Johnny Behan – a divorced and bankrupt gambler and womanizer. After convincing her parents of his honorable intentions of marriage, he convinced them to let Josie move in with him in the town of Tombstone. After she moved in, however, he dragged his heels and a wedding never transpsired.

Johnny Behan
That’s when she met the handsome Wyatt Earp. Their attraction was mutual at first sight. As vendettas and trials and fights broke out, Wyatt and Josie came out unscathed at the shootout at the O.K. Corral. Afterwards, the two travelled around the south western United States.

Doc Holliday
When Wyatt died, Josie buried his ashes in the Marcus family plot in the Little Hills of Eternity, near San Francisco. She joined him in death in 1944 and was buried with him. Their gravesite attracts many visitors. Once, even their tombstone was stolen.
An exciting biographical novel about Josie has just been released. 

Two decades after the Civil War, Josephine Marcus, the teenage daughter of Jewish immigrants, is lured west with the promise of marriage to Johnny Behan, one of Arizona’s famous lawmen. She leaves her San Francisco home to join Behan in Tombstone, Arizona, a magnet for miners (and outlaws) attracted by the silver boom. Though united by the glint of metal, Tombstone is plagued by divided loyalties: between Confederates and Unionists, Lincoln Republicans and Democrats.
But when the silver-tongued Behan proves unreliable, it is legendary frontiersman Wyatt Earp who emerges as Josephine’s match. As the couple’s romance sparks, Behan’s jealousy ignites a rivalry destined for the history books…
At once an epic account of an improbable romance and a retelling of an iconic American tale, The Last Woman Standing recalls the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral through the eyes of a spunky heroine who sought her happy ending in a lawless outpost—with a fierce will and an unflagging spirit.

Opinion:

The first thing that grabbed me about this book was the brash and colorful first person narrative of Josie Earp. It's a bold, blunt, and in-your-face style and I loved it!

The book reveals to the reader, Josie's rebel heart, a woman who was not afraid to break away from her conventional Jewish upbringing to chase her passion - theatre and the notorious rake, Johnny Behan. At first, Johnny appears honorable, visiting Josie's parents and asking for her hand in marriage, then sweeping her away to Tombstone long before the vows could be uttered.

Almost immediately, Josie meets Wyatt Earp and the attraction between the two was instantaneous. In the meantime, Josie sets up a home with Johnny, but as time progresses, he drags his heels on all promises he made to her regarding marriage, home, and finances. She even discovers his womanizing and frequent trips to the local bordello. That's when she reaches out to Wyat. As the tensions heat up between these two men, Josie is helpless to thwart the gunfight at the OK Corral. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, especially the voice and the way the author brought to life the characters involved. I definitely enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it for lovers of western historical fiction and women's biographical fiction.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for visiting my blog, http://greathistoricals.blogspot.ca, where the greatest historical fiction is reviewed! For fascinating women of history bios and women's fiction please visit http://www.historyandwomen.com.