We hosted 22 events in 2018, which included sold out lectures at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, successful presentations in Nantucket and the Berkshires, and a return to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. Our Mar-a-Lagopresentation at times causes controversy for the venue planners, some of which are worried that the topic may be too polarizing. However, when we give the non-political lecture, we invariably draw sold out rooms.
At the Kravis last March
In Lenox, the Berkshires this summer
Over the summer René re-wrote, and I re-designed, his biography “I survived Swiss Boarding Schools” now with the new subtitle “All that glitters is not gold.” We have started working with a PR firm to get the book turned into a movie or mini-series. We will keep you updated on the progress of that effort.
Additionally, we redesigned the Duchess of Windsor lecture, rechristened “Noblesse Oblige; The Duchess of Windsor as I knew her,” mirroring the book title, and adding more of René’s personal relationship with the Duchess. With Netflix’ The Crownand the introduction of Meghan Marckle to the British Royal Family, this topic continues to be of great interest to audiences.
We keep plugging along. A plan is hatching to develop the accompanying presentation for the “Swiss boarding schools” book. We will let you know if that materializes, but there is already some interest for that topic from several venues.
Can you believe it? Summer is almost over. We just finished our 6thand last presentation of this season. The last three lectures were back to back.
First, we did a very successful Addison Mizner lecture at the Whaling Museum in Nantucket. Invited by the Nantucket Historical Association and the Nantucket Preservation Trust and sponsored by our good friends Michael Kovner and Jean Doyen de Montaillou, the reception was overwhelmingly warm. The beautiful location helped to make this a memorable event, including René giving the presentation standing underneath the humongous skeleton of a baby sperm whale. Impressive!
Just as we were leaving Nantucket, I unfortunately discovered my mother passed away. Therefore I had to fly to The Netherlands and leave René to fend for himself at Seashore Point to present the renewed Duchess of Windsorlecture. Always the professional, he again had a room filled with people who hung on his every word.
As soon as I returned we made our second trip of the season to the charming town of Lenox in the Berkshires. Tom Hayes welcomed us once again, and this time it was the Mar-a-Lago presentation that drew an enthusiastic crowd, who stayed afterwards for an extravagant, high-tea with sandwiches and elaborate cakes. We are honored to have been invited back next year to do the Normandie lecture.
René with the fabulous Lucille and Bill
Our main focus this summer has been the re-writing and formatting of the second edition of René’s book I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools, now with a new subtitle: All That Glitters Is Not Gold. The project, which includes a film play treatment, was finished two weeks ago and is now available on Amazon in both print and kindle versions. The book chronicles René’s childhood, beginning at a small Swiss boarding school, La Clairière, and then at the world-famous Le Rosey. To rewrite the book, René reached out to several of his peers to expand on the details related to the rowing accomplishments that led to his team becoming Swiss rowing champions in 1966. He also added an “aftermath” portion to the book, which describes what has happened to the many players in their lives after boarding school.
The release has caused quite a stir on Facebook! Two camps rapidly became evident. Those who read the book were extremely positive, while those who had not read it expressed violently negative reactions! The only way to explain this odd dichotomy is by understanding the motivation of the two groups: Those who had negative experiences at boarding schools and want those stories told, and those who see everything through rose-colored glasses and view Rosey as their passage to elitism. The debate got so heated that the admin of the Le Rosey Alumni Facebook page removed our post about the book and the entire discussion, mysteriously claiming that “salacious comments” had been used.
Of course we are plugging along with developing the accompanying lecture presentation. Although René’s personal story will be included, the lecture will focus on the many famous and glamorous people whom René shared time with when he attended these Swiss boarding schools. Approaching the subject from that angle assures the presentation will be consistent with Silvin Books’ brand of exploring the extinct elegance of the mid-twentieth century “beau monde” with high-tech, colorful visuals.
For those who have already purchased the renewed Swiss boarding school book, we thank you and would love to get some reviews on Amazon. You can do those here.
Written by Robert Versteeg, partner at Silvin Books & Productions.