The Pneumatic Postal Service of Paris

Telegram sent by pneumatic tube, Wikimedia Commons

I love all the research that goes with writing historical novels, because you find out so many fascinating things. The small details are often crucial in conveying the period feel. But a lot of this research has to be discarded and can’t be used in the book, so I like to give a little flavour of it in these posts.

We all know that “un pneu” means a tyre in French. Did you know that it also came to be used to mean a telegram sent along tubes by pneumatic means?

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Marie-Thérèse Spills the Beans!

My main character from Overture, Marie-Thérèse Vernhes, has been let loose on her own to talk with Stephanie Churchill on her blog today. Find out what motivates her, how she pursues her ambitions to become an opera singer – and what irritates her about me!

Marie-Thérèse talks about the contrasts between life in rural France and Paris at the turn of the 20th century, the difficulties of breaking out of the traditional mould and her love of singing and music.

Interview My Character Blog Hop – Sheriff and Priest: Wimer the Chaplain, by Nicky Moxey

Today it’s my turn to interview a character in the Historical Writers’ Forum “Interview my Character” blog hop. This event has been going on throughout June and will continue through July. I have the great good fortune to be interviewing Wimer, a real-life character who had an interesting – if turbulent – career during the 12th century. He is the main character in Nicky Moxey’s Sheriff and Priest. You can read my review of the book beneath this interview.

And there’s a giveaway! The author has kindly offered a paperback copy of Sheriff and Priest to a UK winner, or an ebook to a winner elsewhere in the world. To enter, simply leave a comment below this post or on the post about this interview on the Facebook page. The draw will be made on 28th June. Good luck!

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Overture goes on tour

My latest historical novel, Overture, set in Belle Epoque France, heads off on a seven-day blog tour today. I’m very grateful to these 21 fantastic book bloggers for featuring the book on their blogs and also to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for organising it all so efficiently. Some of the bloggers will also be featuring a review of Overture. Their support for authors is invaluable and helps readers to find new books.

I’ll tweet every day about the tour with a link to the participating blogs and also post on my Facebook page. I’m sure the bloggers will be delighted if you go to have a look at their blogs. They feature and review many books, so you might well find exciting new reads.

Also, I have allowed out of my sight my main character from Overture, Marie-Thérèse, so that she can take part in an interview as part of the Historical Writers’ Forum “Interview my Character” blog hop. Her interview by Stephanie Ling will appear on Stephanie’s blog on Monday 24th June. Watch this space for the link.

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2019. All rights reserved.

Marie-Thérèse’s France 3: Bordeaux

This is the third and final part of a series of posts that looks at the principal places in France in Overture, Book 1 in the Alouette Trilogy. The main character, Marie-Thérèse, has ambitions to be an opera singer. The story moves mainly between rural Aveyron in Southwest France and Paris, but Marie-Thérèse also spends a spell in Bordeaux, one of France’s most elegant and prosperous cities.

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Marie-Thérèse’s France 2: Paris

View of Montmarte. My photo.

This is the second part of a series of posts looking at some of the settings that Marie-Thérèse, my main character in Overture, would have known. How do you cover Paris in one blog post? I’m not even going to try. Instead, I’ll focus on a few of the places that are mentioned in the book.

Although I have invented some of the villages in Aveyron, where the story partly takes place, I have used only real places in Paris. You don’t mess with Parisian street names!

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Marie-Thérèse’s France 1: Rural Aveyron

Today, I want to take you to some of the settings that Marie-Thérèse, my main character in Overture, would have known. In this first post, I’ll focus on Aveyron, which is one of the most rural départements (counties) of France. I live just over the border in an adjoining département, but I’m very attached to the landscapes and villages of Aveyron, which is named after the river that flows through it.

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