about the Works of
Proust Questions by Juliette Benzoni
translated from French
by Frédérique -
Claudia - Linda Les filles des grands chemins
Your favourite virtue
The cult of friendship
Your favourite qualities in a man?
The courage, the one of every day...
Your favourite qualities in a woman?
What do you appreciate the most in your
That they are my friends
Your main fault?
Your favourite hobby?
Your idea of happiness?
It has been a while since I've given up on
Your idea of a great misfortune?
It happened; I lost my son
What would you like to be?
Where would you like to live?
Nowhere else than in France
Your favourite flower?
Your favourite colour?
Your favourite bird?
I am afraid, I like them all
Your favourite prose authors?
From Alexandre Dumas to Eric-Emmanuel
Schmitt to Agatha Christie!
Your favourite poets?
Verlaine, Racine, Charles Dickens...ect
Your favourite heroes in fiction?
Cyranno de Bergerac and Hercule Poirot
Your favourite heroines in fiction?
The ones of my novels and Bécassine!
Your favourite composers?
Mozart, Chopin, Berlioz,Verdi...
Your favourite painters?
Monet, Goya, Turner, Boldini
Your heros in real life?
Your heroines in world history?
Your favourite names?
France, Aurore,Victoire and many more...
What do you hate the most
What do you dislike about yourself?
I'd rather not know
Your favourite food?
Toasted bread, butter, sausage and roasted
Which historic characters do you despise the
The treacherous ones
Which military event do you admire the most?
Desperate battles like the Tiberiade (in the
XII th century)
What reform do you like best?
Which talent would you like to have?
How do you want to die?
What's your present state of mind?
Which faults can you forgive?
gormandizing and pious lies
Do right and have well
A great wine?
If you were a politician who would you be?
But that is the whole point, I am not!
Have you noticed the apocryphal question?
No, should I?
France's History 2005
Mohammed Aïssaoui in
Juliette Benzoni :
The death of Charles the Bold in 1477
I believe that the death of Charles the Bold,
Duke of Burgundy, on January 5, 1477 achieved to
build France »
I worship the Image
Mohammed Aïssaoui in Le Figaro.fr
The Romancière Juliette Benzoni
We see on the article below Juliette Benzoni
entering her favourite Library "librairie Monaco" at
Saint-Mandé. It is here that she chose many of the
books she needed for her researches. In the article
we learn that Juliette had appreciated very much the
owner of the library Jean-Claude Monaco - who
as Juliette explains in the article, did not sell
books just like a a kilo of cherries.
The author chose on that day three books 1. Toute
beauté est singulaire, 2. Fresques des villas
romaines and 1. Pharaon.
Arsenic and old Lace 2003
Original French text by
in Le Figaro.fr Literature Figaro
translated by Frédérique and Linda
later, her novels, at the rate of two per year,
are still among the bestsellers. The recipe of
this success? A preference of others, a strong
sense of images – «I
always thought for the camera” – a passion for
a little early for an obituary, right? »
At the age of 82, Juliette Benzoni is
still healthy and keeps her sense of humour. In
her small, house at Saint-Mandé, built in a
quiet street and leads to the Zoo of Vincennes,
the Queen of Historical Romance lives
alone with her daughter. She resembles these
novelists from across the Channel, which,
between two cups of tea, shed blood in their
books and then have one more slice of pudding.
Stroke of luck, Juliette Benzoni loves English
police officers. With her, you do not enter in
an English Manor, or walk in the docks of
London - but through the gates of the
Tuileries Palace in 1792 or in a
Commandery of Knights Templar in the
Provence. After 60 historical books – “or a
little more, I have lost count ” – 300 million
copies sold worldwide, Juliette Benzoni, open
and energetic, has kept all the enthusiasm and
freshness of her debut when she was a writer of
love stories for the magazine Confidences.
“The more I study History and its mysteries, the
more I am passionate.”
She has just finished the second volume of a
great saga about knights which will be in
bookstores in the beginning of March and she is
already writing the next one. “This morning, I
was immersed in the terrible trials of the
Templars,” she says with a gourmand expression
on her face. Despite her success, Juliette
Benzoni remains an unknown star. The
litterature TV shows are sulky with her. She
faces this relative indifference with humour.
“Once I was interviewed by Elkabbach
(French journalist) because I was the one
who-has-never-been-invited-by-Pivot“ (the most
popular literature TV show host). She had all
the same some satisfactions of self-esteem,
especially when Ronald Reagan (President
of USA from 1981-1989) wrote in person to
congratulate her for her book series about the
American Independence war,
Le Gerfaut (The Lure of the Falcon). She
confessed simply “that pleased me very much.”
It’s not to
make money that motivates her. Her life is
simple and not luxurious. She travels once a
year to a small hotel at Trinité-sur-mer (Brittany).
In addition, for some foul legal reasons, she
does not even own her house! Juliette writes
first for herself – to escape the presence. She
has written about almost every period of French
History without going ever beyond the 30′s.
She admits that she has never enjoyed her time
period. “Actually, I do not want to relive what
I have lived. “Indeed the Queen of edition has
not been spared by life. A father ruined in
1941, two dead husbands, her only son died in
tragic circumstances, Juliette Benzoni said very
modest, that she had her share of suffering. It
is precisely because of these blow of fate that
led her to start writing. “When I was married, I
used to live in the Province and I read a lot.
But I did not believe I was able to publish.
After the death of her first husband in the
’50s, fate decided for her. To raise her two
children, she had to seek a job. After an ad in
the newspaper Le Figaro, she started
writing. Afterwards everything changed. She was
asked to write another Saga in the style of
“Angelique” (by Anne and Serge Golon) The
Catherine Series became her first of many
successful bestsellers - plus four very
television series. Her books are translated
in over twenty languages.
Fifty years later, her novels, at the
rate of two per year, are still among the
bestsellers. The recipe of this success? A
preference of others, a strong sense of images –
“I always thought for the camera” – a passion
for the mysteries, “I am a Scorpio, so I like
riddles“, and great discipline. “I try to write
three pages a day, Sundays and holidays included.
It became a habit. Her life revolves around
writing. Each book seems to be a new challenge
for her. “You know, everything is so short-lived
”. Despite her success, she continues to work
hard. Her works require two years of
documentation. Numerous history books
encumbering her whole house from the cellar to
the bedrooms of the first floor, where she
writes in the morning - from the corridors to
the summerhouse in the garden. She is haunted by
the danger of anachronism, details which are
false. Without giving names, she was surprised
to see young historical novelists who makes so
startling anachronisms. “How can an editor
accept this? “
Juliette is generally a good friend because she
loves people, stories, life. Mainly, she enjoys
the pleasures of most French people. She plays
sometimes the Lottery, watches TV – especially “Rive
droite Rive gauche” broadcasted by
Thierry Ardisson – and, while pretending not
to be interested in politics, she shows Gaullist
beliefs (the portrait of General De Gaulle
thrones in her library) and Christian beliefs.
“But be sure that I am entirely against G.
Bush. How dare to ask for prayers to God -
then go to bombard a nation – that is outrageous
Her readings are traditional: Dumas,
Stendhal, Barbey d’Aurevilly or La
Varende. All authors who have attempted
first to entertain their audience, whatever the
cost, despite the ups and downs of their own
life. The true pain, she wants to keep for
herself, to not spread them in her books. “This
withholding is perhaps the result of an
education.“ Distant descendant of General
Mangin, Juliette Benzoni belongs to the
France attached to its roots, a bit nostalgic
for Royalty -” it’s true that I do not like the
Revolution “- but who is not sectarian, and who,
as Napoléon said, ” assumes everything from
Clovis to Robespierre.” There still remains a
bit of the “old France” perfume” who surprises
us by being well-off in the shrewdness of the
Elite, she said, as it should be, Madame
to talk to the Countess of Paris, she
uses some outdated terms, evokes “the year of
But this is
not snobbery; she is only living in the past.
After all, her tastes are unceremoniously. Also
she regrets that Alexandre Dumas, her master, is
now resting at the Panthéon. “He must be bored
there. It is imposing and sinister.
Everything of the opposite of what she loves.
BIO EXPRESS :
30 October 1920 : born in Paris
1953 : First collaboration at CONFIDENCES
1962 : Debut of the Catherine Series
1973 : Prix Alexandre Dumas
1983 : Prix de l'Académie française
1988 : Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite
Original French article...
Juliette Benzoni - Why I love Alexandre Dumas 2002
It was my father who, one fine day,
put the Three Musketeers into my hand, saying
that it should please me.
Being himself a bit of Alexander Dumas and
regretting a little that I was not a boy, there
was a kind of formal notice ... J.B
200th Anniversary of Alexandre Dumas, the "Magazine
littéraire" had chosen some authors, to
write about the famous Alexandre Dumas,
writer of such classical books like The
three Musketeers, The Count of Monte Christo, La
Dame de Monsereau, The Black Tulip.
Juliette Benzoni (decorated with the Prix
Alexander Dumas in 1973) was amongst them. Her
contribution to the readers was Why I love
Benzoni, the fiery feature writer 2001
Text by O.D in Le Figaro.fr
translated from French to English by
Frédérique and Linda
You cannot blame an author to write too
much. This is silly because this is his job.
That would be like blaming a butcher to have
cut too many sirloins during his day. If the
meat is good quality, no matter the flow. On
the other hand, has anyone ever criticized
Mozart to have too much composed or Picasso
did too many paintings? No. It seems far
away the time, when our writers were
publishing four, five, six books a year. Victor Hugo, Balzac, Alexandre Dumas and
close to us, Georges Simenon, who published
under their name or under various pseudonyms
something like 512 novels.
Today, we get worried about an author when
more than one book a year is published. The
period likes smallness. Rarity is a sign of
That was true for Lautreamont or Baudelaire.
When you look, for example, at the page
"from the same author" for the academician
Henri Troyat, you are amazed by such a
production. Not less than ninety books – an
average two each year. You tell yourselves
that it's not much, twice a year. That it is
possible. You must love to tell stories, not
limit your imagination, leave your
inspiration's tap open while avoiding
overflow. "These are the subjects who
request me," says Troyat when he was asked
why he wrote so much. And subjects may come
from a conversation with a friend, from
reading the news in brief. It's simple. You
only need a cup of coffee, to get up early
(7:00 A.M for Henri Troyat, 6:00 A.M for Juliette
Benzoni, 6:30 A.M for
Madeleine Chapsal). Generally, these
prolific authors do plan nothing; write a
book at a stretch as blood or nerve flow.
The getting up record man is Max Gallo. From
4:00 A.M, at his home, this man is already
at work. Since 1964, around 70 books of his
have been published. This year, between
November 2000 and May 2001, four volumes of
his saga "Les Patriotes" (Fayard editor)
have been published.(...) According to the
famous adage "the future belongs to those
who get up early," these graph maniacs
somehow insomniacs like to get up with the
Every morning in her home at Saint-Mandé,
near Paris, Juliette Benzoni, chouanne of
historical novel, sits also at her desk. Two
or three cups of coffee - for two or three
hours of writing. No more. Ninety to one
hundred pages a month. Like Max Gallo, she
writes a book from the beginning till the
end and then goes over it again. A book asks
her about seven months for around six
hundred pages: "I give myself a month to do
nothing and then two weeks to review my
pages, she says. I write a lot because I am
getting older. I have lots of stories to
tell, I have six or seven in my drawers. I
need some cigarettes, and cigarillos which
are convenient because you do not swallow
the smoke. In general, I take notes and then
I tape directly on my LCD typewriting
machine. Then I give the manuscript to my
daughter who types it again on her
computer and gives a floppy disk to my
editor. The computer is an enemy for me. The
first time I have opened one, I saw
appearing on the screen "going to sleep",
and then you understand ... "(...)
Therefore, how does
the literary criticism react as it is
already crumbling under the weight of
increasing novel production? It grinds. In
editorial offices, it is not unusual to hear
that kind of remark, "Oh, again a book of
so-and-so" Or "Again this one! “ So, they
prefer to forget. They do a great article
for the first volume of the new saga of
so-and-so, and then they stand aside. If the
author has certain notoriety, the public
will wait for the continuation. This is the
case for most of these pen-addicts. The
books of Gallo, Chapsal and Benzoni expect
nothing from literary critics. They have
their cruising speed. Such is the strange
paradox of these best-sellers: the less
there are readers, the more they are
published, the more they sell.
Queen Juliette 1995
by Anne-Marie Koenig in
Point de Vue
Linda and Frédérique in 2013
Juliette is 18 years old, has golden hair and
eyes where even the sea itself would drown in.
On her throat throbs a diamond, the legendary
Chrystal of Charles Quint, responsible for much
bloodshed and offered to her by one of the last
princes of Europe before he died.
And even though
would be 75
years old, white
haired and no admirer who would have offered her
a secular stone? Do we have no more the right to
spin a tale?
For over thirty years, Juliette Benzoni writes
to make us dream. Married at the beginning of
the war to a doctor from Dijon, soon widowed,
she starts writing short stories for
Bit by bit, she will combine
her two passions, history and writing.
Originally her first book was published in
France-Soir as a Cliffhanger.
« Les Reines tragiques » (The tragic
Queens) released in 1962. Since then, two or
three novels appear every year, like beads on a
necklace without an end. More than fifty titles.
Built with the stones of history, from the
medieval times to the Twentieth Century, her novels
require long researches. Autodidact historian
and passionate, Juliette Benzoni follows the
trail of her documents with the flair of a
detective, she goes to a city or another, in
France or elsewhere, snooping around in
bookshops, libraries, museums, archives,
studying the maps of the epoch and the old
Baedeker, confronting places, sniffing
trails. Her latest novel,
« Le Boiteux de Varsovie » (The
cripple of Warsaw) captures the intertwining
streets and the ambiance of the London docks in
1920-1930 with the accuracy of a tailored hat.
“With the great broadcasts on television, people
have been sensitized to History.
One cannot permit oneself to tell the audience nonsense.“
What would those castles be if no knight
penetrates them with the din of their arms?
These jewels, if they don’t shine on beauties
skin? These secret staircases if no trap is
plotted? Love at first sight and passionate
love, betrayal and bloody tragedies. In a
historic décor firmly set, the novelist leads
with a devilishly tempo the fiery destriers of
sentimental and warlike epics. The dreams of
Juliette are as real as she is herself.
the great affair ! Life without Love is nothing
more than a carcass.
Love, the affair of the women.
heroines of Juliette are beautiful to leave the
devil dumbfounded, and the men are virile to
condemn the holiest. Far from a soppy image,
passion is worth all risks. And it is not so
simple. At least in the novels of Juliette Benzoni, where feelings get tangled in political
intrigues or detective stories. Avid reader of
detective fictions, the novelist holds the
suspense with the same jubilation as the great
ladies of the Anglo-Saxon thrillers.
At Saint-Mandé, the atmosphere of her pavilion
seems to be imbued with all these legends she
invented, more authentic than the real. Ancient
and modern paintings, bound books, icons,
decanters and glass bottles, each object can be
the starting point for a romantic flight. The
hanging chandelier reflects improbable waltzes.
A Portrait of
General de Gaulle, a photo of her
second husband who also died, a painting of an
enigmatic woman’s face: pieces of history.
Behind the windows framed by green plants, a
Wisteria is tied to the railing. On the table, a
bouquet is withering away. Juliette Benzoni
lives here since 1973, but the places do not
take centuries to forge a soul. Some soothing
sailboats on the walls, no doubt a longing for
the sea, of that
Cotentin where she likes to spend
her holiday and where episodes of « Treize Vents » were planted.
The head in the dreams, the heart to ferret out
all the Romeos and her feet firmly on the
ground, Juliette Benzoni runs her boat in the
tumultuous current of her sagas with
professional rigor. Of a formidable punctuality,
she keeps to the day the editorials deadlines. A
few months for a novel of 400 pages, a fortnight
to rewrite everything.
At the very least, twenty thousand pages…
She loves to embark with her characters for a
long cruise. With the exception of Un aussi
long chemin, her novels run for over several
volumes: 4 for
La Florentine, 7 for
Catherine, 5 (6) for
Marianne, 3 for
Les Dames du Méditerranée Express. The
second volume of
« Le Boiteux de Varsovie », her
latest book, will soon be followed by a third.
Writing novels does not prevent from enjoying
life, with full-blown sorrows, with meetings and
little pleasures. Gourmand of gardens and of
good wines, a good cordon Bleu, the novelist
enjoys despite the drama a great delight in
La Rose d’York
in tight black and white, little jewellery,
maybe she is mourning for these times of
courtesy and elegance. The charm of Juliette has
Up there the dog sleeps. The forest of Bois de
Vincennes is not far. Cops emerge out of the
- 2017 Linda Compagnoni 2017