Madam X

When I announced my retirement last summer, I was bemused when so many people refused to believe me. It turned out some of you knew me better than I know myself. Lately I’ve felt like Mark Twain whose obituary was prematurely published in America after he fell ill in London. His response was a cable fired off to the offending newspaper stating, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  I hereby declare, rather sheepishly, that the same is true of my retirement.

My smooth Golden Years sailing was about to be interrupted.

So why another book when, after working over half a century, I was free to focus on gardening, travel, films, volunteer work and reading?  My undoing came in a book on the Randolphs of Virginia and a woman who spawned what was arguably the biggest scandal in 18th Century America. Like the people of her time, I was seduced by the siren call of a 17-year-old pampered Southern belle accused of adultery, incest, murder, miscegenation and prostitution. How could I resist writing about such a life, especially one populated by such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Patrick Henry, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Randolph of Roanoke and Gouvernor Morris of New York?! The answer? I couldn’t.

I don’t want to say too much, but will at least show you what’s left of the house where this beguiling young lady committed what some considered the crime of the century and earned herself the sobriquet, the Jezebel of the Old Dominion. For the time being, I’ll call her Madam X.

Sound juicy? Folks, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

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