Thursday, 29 March 2012

I Have An Embarrassing Secret...

It's a secret that I only let people in on, once I have known them for a while, and I'm sure that they won't smirk. I thought that it was about time that I let you in on it.

My middle name is (deep breath...) Marie-Antoinette. Yes, you heard correctly - Marie-Antoinette - it's right there on my birth certificate. I was named after a French queen who had her head chopped off. Except that I wasn't exactly. My parents claim that I was named after my rather less well known Uncle Anthony and his then girlfriend Mary - my Godparents. (Although logically, this means that my middle-name should be closer to Marc Antony - as in the Roman political general - which I suppose doesn't quite have the same ring to it.)

I have no idea what makes two first generation immigrants from the Caribbean, living in 1970's London, and with no particular passion for French history let alone any connection to France, come up with the grand name of Marie-Antoinette. It certainly didn't suit the sartorial failures of my early years as a 70's kid running around in tartan flares and double denim.

I used to think that it was a subliminal thought whispered into my pregnant mother's ear by the spirit of the French Queen herself - perhaps predicting in the then unborn 'me', a predetermined love of chandeliers, decorative antiques, french linen and dainty French pastries!

Regardless, that's the middle name that they gave me, and it naturally encouraged an intense obsession with my namesake from an early age. I've read the biographies, own the DVD's, and have visited the palaces. It was the cause of much mirth and ribbing at my all girls Convent School, and was NEVER revealed at University. But while it is something that I have rarely disclosed, it is also something that I have always secretly rather liked.

If one can forget the many negative connotations that the iconic but ill fated Queen has historically endured, particularly when it comes to empathy and extravagance (by the way, she apparently never did utter the infamous phrase "Let them eat cake" when faced with a starving nation!) and focus instead on the amazing images, interior style, fashion influence and romantic colour palette that we associate her with instead, then you are left with a pretty beautiful legacy.

Is Queen Marie-Antoinette the real reason that I have a love of old houses, history & historical figures, ALL things French and of course pretty shoes?

I think that I've even spotted a few traits of her in my own home. And yes I do eat cake. Lots of it.

Do you have an embarrassing or inspiring namesake? I'd love to hear about it.

Have a glorious weekend!

Paula x

Images courtesy of; 1)Marie Antoinette Film (2006) by Sofia Copella; 2)Marie Antoinette 1762; 3)Daytime Salon at Versailles; 4)Empress's Bedroom at the Grand Trianon, Versailles; 4)Marie Antoinette a la Rose(1782) Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun, Musee National du Chateau de Versailles; 5)Marie Antoinette (1769) Joseph Ducreux as Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria 7)Elle Decor 8)Elle Decor; 9)Veranda; 10)Elle Decor; 11)Veranda; 12)Marie Antoinette Film; 13)My shoes!


  1. Ah yes...the shoes. I do love the shoes. What a delightful post and beautiful name. I so enjoyed reading. I am afraid my name is fairly benign. Have a fabulous weekend. Bonnie

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  3. What a story! I think you have done a wonderful job of letting us in on your little secret. Which I happen to think is wonderful. :)

  4. I have a friend who is called Antoinette - but not the Marie bit! Delightful name and delightful post Paula - I love all those fans and hats in the top photo and your shoes are magnifique!


  5. Hello sweet Paula! You are a gifted writer! I always enjoy reading your delightful posts! All the images you shared are lovely! I really enjoyed the Marie Antoinette Film and all the yummy colours!!! I especially loved her cottage in the country! How wonderful you have her name for your middle name! I think it is lovely and very romantic! Like you, I like to focus on the beautiful things she accomplished. Your shoes are beautiful and I love how you have them displayed! There is not much to my middle name, it is Suzanne. Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Paula xoxo

  6. My niece is called Clementine Rose which I think is a marvelous name.

  7. I'm only smiling Paula and if you have to be named after someone at least she was a French Queen and the woman had style and taste!


  8. I think it's a fabulous middle name. At least it is steeped in history. No interesting names from my side, sadly... xx

  9. Thanks for letting us in on your secret...what a good conversation piece :)

  10. Well my middle name is not embarrassing its Frances (but like you I love anything french isn't that weird!) Be proud nothing wrong with Marie Antoinette after all she lived in a beautifull palace!

  11. What a splendid middle name. Your parents must have known you were destined to live in a palace...or at least a very grand house, which you do. I use my middle name Louise as I can't abide my first name.

  12. Hi Paula, nice to meet you! What a delightful post. You are a special Lady to have a name like that and its a wonderful thing that you enjoy Her sense of style. I am constantly finding new inspiration from Her era, for my art, my home, and my garden. thanks for stopping by to say hi and leave your comment today! Christie

  13. What a great middle name...such a fun post!

  14. What a fabulous story, told so well! My middle name is the first name of my Mum's treasured aunt, who was a Professor of Mathematics at Melbourne University back in the 1940's. She never married & lived a pretty fusty musty academic life in cloisters. Quite something though, considering the times. I did not inherit her numerical skills, something our Accountant reminds me of often!
    Millie xx

  15. Fantastic! The negative connotations about M-A don't come first to mind for me. Thoughts of luxury, taste, exoticism and splendor of Versailles under Louis XVI spring up. I think there's definitely a connection to your blog!

  16. I have so enjoyed reading this as I love anything French and I am thrilled with your middle name! Fascinating!

    Also admiring the lovely images of your home in the side column, so good to find you at Christina's!

    Art by Karena

  17. No embarrassing name, but really enjoyed reading your lovely post and the rest of your blog.
    As a new blogger, and old house owner, thank you for your inspiration and joie de vivre.

  18. If you love Marie Antoinette, you should have a look at the blog Mulberry Muse - her designs are just beautiful. Thank you for your support this week..Rachaelxx

  19. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog cos now I get to follow your sweet blog, love your photos and your name is so cool!! have a great week sweetie

    Bee happy x
    Have a delicious day!

  20. Hello Mrs Sutton,

    I wish my parents gave me such a beautiful middle name! I can image you love it. There is something about Marie Antoinette....

    We (husband, I and three teenage daughters) visited Versailles and Marie's little hamlet last years. Such a beautiful and inspiring place. The film by Sophia Coppula is one of our favourites. If only for it's amazing setting & costumes!

    And cakes.......we love it too!!!

    Happy new week,

    Madelief x

  21. Great middle name :)

    Mrs. Delightful

  22. What a fabulous post! I am new to your blog and was instantly "captured" as I read on and on....
    This is quite an honor, not to mention a fabulous way to begin a conversation! You are destined to live an "interesting" life with such a famous middle name...and I can already tell you are quite an interesting lady yourself, with beautiful style.
    What a pleasure to "meet" you!
    Wishing you a beautiful week~

  23. hilarious...and quite a brilliant mine's Clare....doesn't really compare does it!!!

  24. Hi Paula! I've just found your blog and so enjoyed reading this "Marie-Antoinette" post! I have to admit, I was amused! But this amusement is coming from someone whose last name is, of all things, DOOLITTLE! Ugh!

    I like your middle name. It clearly made for a fun, well-written story. I'm happy to be your newest follower and look forward to more of your posts!

    Happy Easter from the U.S.!

  25. Hi Paula, fabulous post and rightly so to have a fascination for everything MA........i think it is a delightful middle name something to be proud of!
    Thank-you for dropping by my blog and taking the time to enter my giveaway I truly appreciate it, and please don't hide anymore from the lens I am sure they would adore you.
    Carla xx

  26. I love the photos in your post. I saw a Marie-Antoinette display in a museum in San Francisco that made quite an impression on me. Your images brought back some of the memories. I have just added myself as a follower to your blog! ~Anna (middle name Sophia!)

  27. Ahhh I love your middle name!!!
    And I love this post... everything about it.
    Colors, textiles, style, space design... so romantic!
    Oh and lets not forget all that fine chantilly lace... LOVE!!

  28. MA has been an interest of mine since I was 10 and went to Paris and saw letter she had written when she was waiting to be executed. Fascinating. What a fab middle name. Mine is Jane, ok, but nothing to write home about!
    Can I be cheeky and ask where your parent's are from? My Dad is from St Kitts.
    Hugs, B x

    1. Hi again B! Thanks for popping over to say hello. It's not a cheeky question at all - my parents are from Grenada. I've never been to St. Kitts, but I've heard that it's a gorgeous place. Makes me think that one day I should take a tour of the Caribbean Islands to get to know them properly - what a wonderful thought! Paula x

  29. What a great post!! Made me laugh out loud several times :))

  30. It really makes you wonder how much power a name holds! My middle name is Elizabeth and as a 70's child I felt terribly embarrassed by it. It sounded much too queenly and uptight to me! But now I do quite like the romance and old-fashionedness of it. Thanks for popping by my blog & leaving a comment! xo Karen


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