Everything about Juliette Benzoni

her biography, her bibliography and so much more …

Portrait 1

Filed under: 21. Portraits — 29 April, 2009 @ 14:53

s.pngeen on www.liberation.fr :

i.pnguliette b.pngenzoni, Portrait by Pascale Nivelle (June 1999) :

a.pngt 9 years old , in a manual of History, she discovered Joan of Arc on her stake. Since, Juliette Benzoni always has a heroine on the run . She published 57 novels of 500 pages, run in 300 million copies, according to her editor, some were translated into 22 tongues. In Russia, you can find pastiches signed Benzoni. Her sagas make cry in Finnish and in Hebrew. “A special case, assures Patrick de Bourgues, her editor for Plon, she runs in the Cartland and Higgins Clark category .” In the very French kind of the historical novel, series of three volumes, named Dans le lit des reines”, “Félicia au soleil couchant”, “les Emeraudes du prophète .
Where Louis XIII flirted with a courtesan with purple eyes, whereas the cardinal of Richelieu hatches in his back some plots. The History of France is always seen by feminine eyes, always in love. Juliette, alias Fiora, Hortense or Sylvie, folls about in Valmy, intrigues in the Louvre, seduces the princes, but never changes the course of History. Between imaginary concubines, children wrongly “natural” and illegitimate love affairs, she gives to crowned characters dishevelled romanticism dialogues. And always fall back on her dates and her legs.

a.pnglain Decaux, an admirer, has never caught her in the act of anachronism: ” Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas”  she is in the vein of the great historic novelists. And it’s good, because people who will never open a thesis of History are going to read Benzoni. They will have learnt something. ” ” I am a popular novelist “, Juliette Benzoni introduces herself, modest. She is a small but very dynamic lady with white hair. Between grandma cake and “Tatie Danielle” (from a french movie), a character of Agatha Christie, whom she actually likes. “I simply give some pleasure. But that does not interest the press, because I have no message to be delivered.” The literary newspapers, the historians, the best booksellers snub her success: “I am very lonely, you know.”

b.pngernard Pivot let know that she did not need Apostrophes (his literature tv show) to sell her books. She is  neither invited in parties, nor in the literary prizes. But no big deal, as would say the charming Fiora from “la Florentine” (four volumes). Juliette has her public, as Max Gallo or Henri Troyat, her models, have theirs owns. By word of mouth and France Loisirs, she says, makes bigger miracles than the critics. And the prime minister Lionel Jospin personally awarded her the Legion of Honour last year. An article in “Esprit” magazine would not have stunned her more. “That fell on me as a day of strong wind.”

s.pnghe lives in Saint-Mandé, a Parisian suburb, since “the year of grace 1935 “. With her daughter, her dog and one devoted Maria. The house is rented, the painting of Titien hung on over the chest of drawers is a copy. At the end of every summer, she goes on holiday to Trinité-sur-Mer. Every evening, she watches “Questions for a champion” (TV game show). And every week, she plays lotery. As millions of the other ladies of her age. The difference: she writes books that the others read, but in fact, she fears to win: “If I hit the jackpot, I believe that I would lose my other luck.”

a.pngt the age of 30 her relative would have more bet on the lotery than on her feather. Juliette had written nothing yet, and was raised her two children near her husband, a doctor. When this one dies of a heart attack, she has to work. By chance, she writes her first lines, advertisements for the pastas Mélusine. Then a small announcement from the Figaro newspaper, “we look for people knowing how to write “, decides on her fate. Juliette Benzoni is hired by Confidence, a magazine for heartbeat, to write love stories. Expert in that kind of story, passionated by historical characters since her meeting with Joan of Arc in her stake, she soon complicates the genre with “Les Confidences de l’Histoire” magazine. Then an editor, Opera Mundi, who looks for a competitor in the vein of Angélique, the syrupy saga of Serge and Anne Golon, confides the task to Juliette. With a single council: ” everything goes through the heroine, she sees everything. “ At the age of 42, she writes 800 pages in one breath, her first novel. The series “Reines Tragiques” will be published as a serial in France-Soir newspaper, adapted for television and translated into nine tongues. Twenty years later, as said his former colleague, Juliette Benzoni was a multimillionaire.

s.pnghe ends a book and start right away a new one. Two a year. Her recipe? “It is quite simple. I get up at half past six and I write three pages.” She explains: “I am a bookworm who has not a terrific lfe and who tells those of the others. I escape from my life.” A second husband, taken in his turn by an attack. And her son, died brutally too ” the misfortune is only romantic in books. In Juliette’s world, people die when she decides so, “It is useful, when I do not know what to do with them anymore “, the love is always chaste and the crimes do not remain unpunished. She has her good Louis (XIII, XVI) and her miserable (XIV), her happy days (before 1789), her epic times (the war of the Chouans), a lover (Bertrand Du Guesclin). Her feather runs from the Middle Ages to the 30s, “Later, it is my time, and I am not interested in”. Always in the trail of kings and powerful people, the heroine goes from passion to adventure.

a.pngnd in the life? “love, politics” it is less good today, no? “ Juliette speaks of the colonial Exhibition in 1931 in the wood of Vincennes, Paris was occupied ” not fascinating, she was there. Her second husband was an officer during Indochina war. Later, he became a deputy mayor of Saint-Mandé, and she has the same politic opinion.Today, she hopes that Jean-Marie Le Pen, native of Trinité-sur-Mer, does not read her books. “I hate this man! The matter I least forgave him, is to take Joan of Arc as a politic symbol for his “fight” against immigration” A little bit proud, Juliette Benzoni adds: “I all the same offered myself to send some kicks to Hitler and Mussolini “ (Lame of Warsaw, four books).

t.pnghe night carries concern. The taxes: “If I knew English, I would have emigrated into Ireland. Although an English Sunday is as boring as a Sunday in Switzerland.” Her obsession  is especially “that inspiration gives in”. “A bad book, that throws everything down”, she assures. To avert her fears like a beginner, “I am always scared to death when I give a manuscript to an editor “, she locks herself into her den, which nobody visits. A room-office, upstairs where she locked her old typewriter and her imagination. She learns verses and telephone numbers by heart, to train her memory. For one detail about the battle of Valmy, she can remain awakened until dawn. The next day, her searches precision from the opening of the national Archives or the bookshop of her neighbourhood. Her next book? A story during the times of kings of France, in three volumes with a heroine“le Jeu de l’amour et de la mort”.

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2 Comments »

  1. frédérique says:

    Hello Linda

    Yes this portrait is one of the best I have read :D ! And yes it is always a pleasure to translate those articles for the foreign readers of hers ;) !!!! They are so many … and see still in that artcle from 1999, she was introduced as an international writer with 22 differents languages of translation and look at the number of different countries I have already found! 28 with covers and 3 more with only the titles ;) Amazing that she is still writen her 2 books a year, for our great pleasure :D

    Fondly Frédérique also known as JouJou thank to you my dear friend ;)

    Dernière publication sur la bibliographie de Juliette Benzoni : Archives 2017

  2. Mistral says:

    Hi Frédérique
    What an exciting article this is! Juliette Benzoni is so adorable. Thank you so much JouJou for translating this article..my French is not good enough to understand all the little details… bravo again for your work and for sharing this with all none speaking French fans..
    Very fondly Mistral

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