Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest Blog: C.M. Mayo

Photobucket Yesterday I reviewed the Mexican historical novel, The The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire and today I am excited to have the author, C.M. Mayo join us for a guest blog!

The Story of the Story of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
Once upon a time or, I should say, more years ago that I would like to count, I was invited to a lunch in Mexico City. There in the dining room was an unusually handsome antique portrait of a youth—  perhaps English?— cradling a rifle. The scenery included a nopal cactus and, upon a hill in the background, as in a Renaissance portrait...
            Was that Chapultepec Castle?
            Yes, my hostess told me as our bowl of salad came out in the arms of the muchacha.
            And who was the boy?
            Agustín de Iturbide y Green, the Prince of Mexico.
            I had never heard of him. This bothered me, for I was not only recently married to a Mexican, but I considered myself well-educated. I realize now that we supposedly well-educated Americans, who may be able to recite every this-and-that about Europe, rarely open our minds to the rich complexities of our southern neighbor and this, in part, because we are lulled into an illusion that we “know” Mexico. Our media drench us with images: the wet-back; the bandido and the bull-fighter and the mariachi; the narco-trafficker; the corrupt official with his Rolex, his yacht, his weekends in Vegas; the pobres in their sombreros and huaraches; the ubiquitous unibrowed Frida, and those sugar-sand beaches bereft of people other than, perhaps, long-limbed blondes in bikinis.
            A prince! This meant an aristocracy, a theater for power: social, political, financial, economic, military. Certainly, revolutions have erupted in opposition to the idea, but it can be said that, for many people, a monarch and, by extension, the royal family, serve as a focal point for the identity and unity of a nation. To most Americans and Mexicans today, this idea is absurd. But as I write these lines, Belgium still has its king and the United Kingdom its queen.
            These days, usually, one can satisfy one’s idle curiosity with an Internet search, but back then, a search yielded nothing.
            A few months later, half way through reading Jasper Ridley’s Maximilian and Juárez, covering the period of the 1860s known as the Second Mexican Empire or "French Intervention,"  I came upon the chapter about the prince's American mother, “Alice Iturbide.”  In 1865, she and her husband, a son of Mexico's first emperor, Agustin de Iturbide, had signed a contract with the Emperor Maximilian (ex-Archduke of Austria) to hand over their son in exchange for titles and pensions. Almost at once, heart-broken, nearly mad with grief, the mother repented, but Maximilian refused to return the child. She then went to Washington and Paris and stirred up what became, at the highest levels, an international scandal.
My surprise at finding my own countrywoman at the apex of this long ago Mexican aristocracy, both antagonist and victim, motivated and blinded by who knew what medley of ambition, avarice, love, borrowed patriotism or naiveté, so intrigued me, I knew at once that I wanted to explore and expand it into a novel.

For more information on The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire or author C.M. Mayo, you can check out any of the following links:

The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire(Unbridled Books, paperback, 2010)

Book trailer for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

C.M. Mayo

Reader's Guide for The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire

Agustin de Iturbide y Green (b. 1863) carte-de-visite

Podcast:C.M. Mayo's Lecture at the Library of Congress, Washington DC, about the research behind the The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, the novel based on the true story.

Thanks so much to C.M. Mayo for taking the time to do a guest blog for us!


Haddock November 27, 2010 at 12:02 PM  

Wonder how long the Kings and queens can hold on (Belgium & England)

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