How and why did I write about Henriette?
My husband began his sporting activities by first walking in hills and mountains and then climbing them with ropes and all the correct gear and techniques. He began on the famous Almscliffe Crag in Yorkshire.
He then travelled to the Andes and Nepal with friends and professional guides. He climatised well to extreme altitude and when his idea of a pleasant holiday was trotting up Mont Blanc at a ridiculous speed, I accompanied him. I didn’t climb, of course. Those who know me can guess I was far more interested in the history and culture of Chamonix, where we were based.
While he was off in his boots, helmet, axe, ropes etc, I soaked up the atmosphere of the beautiful town in summer. I shopped until I dropped, drank cup after cup of delicious coffee in one of the street cafes or lingered over breakfast in the hotel. I soaked up the atmosphere, wandered in the alpine meadows, took cable cars and the little train up to the famous Mer de Glace, I came home brimming with notes and ideas for short stories, some of which were later published or won competitions. I was on a roll.
One of my haunts while in stunning Chamonix, dominated by the Mont Blanc Massif was the museum where much was dedicated to pioneering climbers – including the amazing Henriette D’Angeville, eccentric spinster, daughter of an aristocratic family whose decision to climb to the summit of Mont Blanc, against all advice and warnings of death is all written in her account which I have in French. As my French is not what it was, I bought and devoured the English edition translated by Jennifer Barnes and with a preface by Dervla Murphy – My Ascent of Mont Blanc published by Harper Collins in 1992 and now out of print. The good news, you can still buy it second-hand. It’s a cracking read.
I took this book as the ground base of Chasing Angels which is total fiction. I also read local guides and notes taken in the museum and online. Any errors are mine and mine alone. I hope I did justice to this remarkable lady who will always remain close to my heart.
Get your copy of Chasing Angels HERE!