follow me...1...2...3...4...5...6

 

"If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, "This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces."

William Shakespeare (The Sonnets)


 

text by Linda Compagnoni Walther

Where shall I start, where shall I begin? The young girl I was once, who dreamed about damsel's in distress  and knights in shining armour? Or the mother of two grown up children, who made up her mind to start a website about her all time favourite book and it's magic author Juliette Benzoni? Who found in her sister the person who was able to demonstrate with her beautiful creations the wonderful world of Catherine de Montsalvy? With Frédérique from France, finding my equal about the passion for Juliette Benzoni?
Dreaming the impossible dream - meeting one day the creator of "Catherine" and author over seventy-five books? Visitors who are acquainted with my website, know that I believe in fairy godmothers. Dreams cannot always come true - alas - but some are meant to be fulfilled for a reason. Otherwise how was it possible that two normal fans of a famous book author, were able to meet the one and only Juliette Benzoni? Without any connections - without help from outside - without someone calling and putting in a good word for two passionate webmistresses?

So let me try to recount to you how this miracle was possible for us. Starting with Mistral, who tried in vain to write to Madame Juliette Benzoni. My letters never arrived at it's goal. Who knows what those publisher did to them?The TV-stations I wrote to, the German, English and French publisher!
Back in June (2009), Frédérique had bought a magazine online - with a special article about Juliette Benzoni. She found there a notice that Juliette Benzoni had the habit to go to the same bookstore in Saint Mandé for years. So I supported JouJou to write to this bookstore when she shared this idea with my sister and me. Yes, the waiting was dreadful - I told my friend: "do not worry - it will happen... "just visualize it... see us there...This sounds so over dramatic I know!

After the French holidays she called the bookstore and got the address of our author!! Her letter had impressed those people there, that they decided to give her Juliette Benzoni's home address. Mistral and Frédérique's thank you, goes again to those wonderful people in Saint-Mandé in that bookstore. I can still see the smile of the lady and the man, when they realized who we were last week!
My friend and I had never phoned yet with each other - we had made a bargain to do so in three situations. I shall not mention what the other two were but one of them was, if we should get the address of Juliette Benzoni! So here, France and Switherland met on the phone. Do not forget, English is not our native tongue ! But we managed and how we did... this is the moment to give my humble thanks to Frédérique, who could have kept this unbelievable news to herself. She said very determined: " You and I will now write, each on her own a letter to Juliette Benzoni. We shall send it on the same day and then we wait!
This is what we did and about six weeks later, my cell phone rang and I knew, something extraordinarily must have happened! I will skip how we behaved on the phone - how I said over and over again... tell me, tell me... and then and then... yes... this made even our dear Juliette smile! The fact was, our beloved author had phoned Frédérique and invited her and the Swiss girls to her house in Saint-Mandé!!! She had been so delighted by our letters and work.
I cannot explain our joy in words - our excitements - our phone calls! We had to stay focused and we were able to keep it secret... well almost, there were some friends we told about it! They kept our secret - my special thanks goes to Catherine in Poland for her support and also to a very special friend in France! Did they really believe it?
I can understand it, Juliette Benzoni is not just anyone - she is the Queen of history books! World famous - and does not give interviews and receive anyone just like that. We all knew that! We were in awe - but not afraid! A person who writes such wonderful books, must have a kind and generous heart.
My sister was unfortunately not able to accompany me for private reasons. But my daughter Claudia, who speaks very well French, found the time to travel with me to Paris, where we met on 30 October on the Roissy- airport Frédérique. We celebrated this with champagne and sweets from Switzerland and France!
The next day we got up early - ate one of those delicious French croissants and had some coffee! Soon we arrived in Saint-Mandé - to have in secret a first look at The house and then buy some flowers for our idol (it is the one's you see left and right here on this page)!
At exactly two o'clock we rang the bell and waited. Our hearts beating like a drum! What would await us inside this famous house? How would Madame Juliette Benzoni be, who had just the day before celebrated her 89th birthday? An elderly, sweet but fragile old lady? The door was opened by none other than Anne Juliette Benzoni's own daughter. She greeted us so friendly and the dream began. Did I say again dream? Ah, no it was not a dream it was reality... we stepped into a beautiful house... furnished with such good taste - full of books - full of an atmosphere of love. We entered the living room - and there she sat. The most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Getting up from her chair and looking at us - smiling. Frédérique and I will always call her from now on "our Queen Juliette She called us in - told us to embrace her and kissed us. What we had before our eyes was a young, vital, full of energy, even a bit mischievous, breathtaking looking woman.



Linda, Juliette Benzoni and Frédérique

Believe me, my dear visitors, we were looking at her and could not believe what was happening. She treated us as good old friends. It was like coming home. I had not prepared any questions - somehow I knew it was going to be different. We talked - we drank champagne - we ate exquisites macaroons, together with Anne her daughter. Admired Oliver their golden retriever. We asked questions - we were answered - we were told anecdotes of the filming of Catherine, il suffit d'un amour. We did not have to promise, not to talk about those insiders facts - but naturally we will keep certain episodes to ourselves  - did we enjoy it - oh yes we did - we laughed - we smiled - we cried, it was fantastic! We were shown her private albums - and given permission to take some photos from the shooting of Catherine and Marianne! Can you imagine that? Authentic photos - never seen yet? I was offered some of the photos ,which you see here down below - and I am happy to share them with you
 

At one point we sat at her feet and it felt just like we were at court - us the Ladies-in-Waiting - talking to the Queen! Some might think now, Mistral is overdoing it! Believe me, I am telling only half of my emotions and little anecdotes - we talked in French and in English. We all understood each other. She told us to call her Juliette - can you imagine that? They made us feel at home - do I know now why Arnaud de Montsalvy was blond in the series and not black haired? Of course I do... do I know how the real Arnaud de Montsalvy looked like? Of course we do and I would have fallen in love with him myself ♥
And then... Juliette showed me Catherine de Montsalvy That was the moment I had tears in my eyes ! I promise you, on December 25 you will see how Catherine de Montsalvy looked like in the imagination of Juliette Benzoni!
 


 

see also Slide-show of all of the photos in that rare album of Juliette Benzoni
 

We stayed the whole afternoon and had not even noticed how time had gone by. Juliette Benzoni had signed our favourite books. For Frédérique it had to be Le Gerfaut and for me Belle Catherine Writing each of us a very own personal dedication. We knew we had to go at one point - if Claudia had not come with us - being almost like a press agent to us - we would still be there!
We are invited to return, whenever we wish to come again - she promised me something personal - I will not repeat it now - I was overcome with emotions later on and believe me, so would all of you Catherine de Montsalvy fans!
I want to give again my most humble thanks to Juliette and Anne. It was an unforgettable, never in that measure to be expected meeting. Staying at Saint-Mandé was a dream come true.
 

Merci dearest Juliette
we adore you
you have our undying affection
♥ ♥ ♥
Linda (Mistral) & Frédérique

 




 © 2008 - 2017 linda compagnoni walther