Jackie O’s Secret Affair Revealed in

The French Paradox

A diary turns up that hints at a romance young Jacqueline Bouvier had as an exchange student in Paris in 1949. It’s been a secret for seventy years. Lucie Montgomery discovers this clandestine affair between someone she loves and the most famous, fiercely private women in American history.

Myth Meets Murder in Ellen Crosby’s 11th Wine Country Mystery

A diary turns up that hints at a romance young Jacqueline Bouvier had as an exchange student in Paris in 1949. It’s been a secret for seventy years. Lucie Montgomery discovers this clandestine affair between someone she loves and the most famous, fiercely private women in American history. Ellen Crosby weaves murder, fine art, and climate change into the latest installment of her hit series.

How has Lucie Montgomery changed since the beginning of the series?

I believe Lucie has become more confident and, to borrow a French phrase—bien dans sa peau—comfortable in her skin, over the course of this series. She fights fiercely for what she believes in, she loves her family, and they mean everything to her. She gets involved in the mystery or solving the murder because she has a personal investment in making something right—that’s always her compelling motive.

I was blown away by photographs of Middleburg and Upperville. What drew you to this part of Virginia?

I fell in love with this region the first time I visited and nothing has changed about my love affair with it over the past twenty years. These are small towns—villages—that have fought valiantly to keep from being overrun by chain stores and Starbucks and fast food joints. (And tourists.) So, they’re still sweet places with a main street and a single traffic light, winding roads and country lanes lined by stacked-stone walls that date back to the Civil War and fields where Thoroughbreds that might be destined for the Triple Crown or the Olympics graze. They are villages that tug at the heartstrings of everyone’s childhood memories of small-town America—perhaps a simpler way of life that is lost in our cities—and they are places worth discovering.

How did you discover Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun?

A good friend who is an artist and a member of the Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts suggested Vigée Le Brun to me. She was such a fascinating woman; she was Marie Antoinette’s portraitist and a well-connected artist in the royal courts of Europe. She also was one of the “Old Mistresses” who fell into obscurity after her death in 1842. Now her paintings are worth quite a lot of money and are exhibited in important art galleries around the world.

Lucie reports that The Winemakers’ Research Group was “increasingly concerned about the extreme weather” in Virginia. What did your research reveal about the effect of climate change on Virginia wineries?

Two words: it’s huge. Also, it’s happening right now and at an accelerating pace. The real problem facing vineyard owners and winemakers now is not so much climate change as extreme climate. It’s impossible to predict a year that will bring a deluge of rain all autumn or too many 100-plus degree days in August. Vineyards need to be adjusting for the new normal, which is that there is no new normal.

Earlier in your career, you worked as a journalist for ABC and The Washington Post. How has American journalism changed since you left it?

Journalism has changed in more ways than I can possibly describe because so much information is now disseminated over social media. Two source rule? What’s that? Now, anyone who has breaking news, or believes they do, posts it on Twitter and there you go. Being first counts more than being right. My husband, a journalist with the Voice of America for 35 years, describes what we’ve got now as “citizen journalism.”

You also worked as an economist in the United States Senate. Have any of your favorite Senate stories wound up in your fiction?

The short answer is no—Capitol Hill is a different world from when I worked there in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and you could go anywhere because there were no restrictions. I have wonderful memories of sitting on the east lawn of the Capitol eating lunch with my Senate colleagues, under the shade of one of the magnificent trees. The squirrels were so tame they would eat the remains of our sandwiches from our hands. I once took a photography class at the Smithsonian and, as one of my assignments, climbed outside onto the balcony of the west façade of the Capitol to take a photo of the Mall as the sun was setting. It wouldn’t be possible to do that now.

 

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