The Story Behind the Story: the Corsican Widow

Do you like fiction that’s based on true stories? Today, I explain how a true tale from 18th-century Corsica wouldn’t leave me alone. I just had to write it as a novel.

Ocelot Press

This week, Vanessa Couchman takes over the blog to tell us about the story behind her second Corsica novel, The Corsican Widow.

I am a self-confessed history nut. I’m lucky, then, to live in Southwest France, which is absolutely steeped in history. Some of my novels and short stories are set in the area where I live.

But I have also been captivated by the savagely beautiful island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. I can’t get back there often enough, although this year, sadly, I suspect we won’t have the chance.


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Book review: Vanessa Couchman, Augustine

Augustine launches today, and there’s already a lovely review by historical fiction author Jennifer C. Wilson.

Jennifer C. Wilson

Today, on the blog, I’m featuring the wonderful Augustine, the prequel to the Alouette Trilogy. Having previously reviewed the first in the series, Overture, it was wonderful to go back to the start and meet Joseph and Augustine. 

VanessaCouchman-AugustineHere’s the blurb, to tempt you in…

Love conquers all. Or does it?

Rural France, 1880. Augustine is not conventionally pretty and fears that she may never marry. Joseph rents his land and dreams of owning a farm one day. But without a wife and children, he lacks the help he needs.

When Joseph saves Augustine from a drunkard at a dance, they are immediately attracted to each other. They meet again, and the attraction deepens, but they face opposition from Augustine’s strict parents, who want better prospects for their daughter than Joseph can offer.

And dramatic events threaten to drive them apart.

Will Augustine and Joseph overcome…

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Chapter 1 of Augustine

Augustine is a bitter-sweet romance set against the rolling landscape and hilltop villages of southern France in the late 19th century. This novella is a prequel to the Alouette Trilogy and is available on Amazon Kindle. Read Chapter 1 below.

Belcastel, one of the beautiful villages of Southwest France
Continue reading “Chapter 1 of Augustine”

Augustine: Cover Reveal and Launch Details

Augustine, a prequel to the Alouette trilogy, has now been released. This is a novella (about half the length of a standard novel), set in rural Southwest France in the 1880s. It tells the story of Augustine and Joseph, who appear in Book 1 of the trilogy, Overture.

My fab cover designer, JD Smith, has come up with the goods yet again. The cover fits the story really well and is just what I wanted.

Here’s the blurb:

Love conquers all. Or does it?

Rural France 1880. Augustine is not conventionally pretty and fears that she may never marry. Joseph rents his land and dreams of owning a farm one day. But without a wife and children, he lacks the help he needs.

When Joseph saves Augustine from a drunkard at a dance, they are immediately attracted to each other. They meet again, and the attraction deepens, but they face opposition from Augustine’s strict parents, who want better prospects for their daughter than Joseph can offer.

And dramatic events threaten to drive them apart.

Will Augustine and Joseph overcome the barriers? And at what cost?

Set against the rolling landscape and hilltop villages of Southwest France, Augustine is a prequel to the Alouette trilogy. It can be read either as a standalone or before Book 1, Overture.

Augustine is available on Amazon Kindle at 99p (or equivalent).

More news to follow on Book 2 of the trilogy, Intermezzo, which is nearing completion.

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2020. All rights reserved.

  

The Power of Letters

On the Ocelot Press blog this week, I look at the material and inspiration that letters written many years ago provide for historians and novelists. And The House at Zaronza, based on a true story of hidden letters that came to light more than a century later, is free on Amazon Kindle for a few days.

Ocelot Press

Letters that inspired a novel

What is it about old letters that come to light later that is so appealing to our imagination? In our age of instant communication via email and social media, letter-writing is a rare practice. Why write someone a letter when you can Skype them instead? But for people a century ago, no other means of staying in contact existed. A letter was a personal thing, even if it took some time for it to arrive or for a reply to come back.

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Art in Fiction: Overture is Novel of the Week

A few months ago, I came across a website that I thought (and still do) was a brilliant idea. I can’t think why it hasn’t been done before – or maybe it has, but I haven’t found it yet. Art in Fiction: listings of novels that are inspired by the arts, whether it be music, painting, theatre, architecture, dance or any category of artistic endeavour.

Continue reading “Art in Fiction: Overture is Novel of the Week”

Going Back in Time: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction

An article on some of the sources I use when writing historical fiction.

Ocelot Press

In our continuing series of weekly blog posts, Ocelot author Vanessa Couchman tells us about her research process. And she’s got a surprise for you at the end!

For all historical novelists, research is a vital part of the writing process. Since I took a degree in history, I enjoy the research part enormously. The danger for me is getting so carried away with the research that it threatens to take over the writing!

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The Unofficial Truce of Christmas 1914

World War I soldiers – Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_people%27s_war_book;history,_cyclopaedia_and_chronology_of_the_great_world_war(1919)_(14595482977).jpg

As Christmas approaches, we’re moving to the end of the Historical Writers Forum December Blog Hop. This has included a lot of fascinating posts by fellow historical fiction writers on the theme of Christmas in past times.

Today, it’s my turn, and I’m focusing on one of the strangest happenings during World War I.

“There, the night before we had been having a terrific battle and the morning after, there we were smoking their cigarettes and they smoking ours.” This was the slightly bemused verdict of a British Tommy on one of the most extraordinary and poignant events of World War I: the Christmas truce of 1914. Up and down the lines on the Western Front, men from both sides clambered from their trenches and laid aside their countries’ differences for a short time.

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Cornflowers and Poppies: Symbols of World War I

A not infrequent occasion when my French life blog coincides with my writing blog. I’m currently writing Book 2 of the Alouette Trilogy, Intermezzo, which is set during World War I. This post looks at the French symbol of WWI, the cornflower, or bleuet.

Life on La Lune

Symbol of Flanders fields

Today is Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to 11th
November, the day the Armistice came into force in 1918. Tomorrow is a public
holiday in France, and remembrance ceremonies will take place at war memorials throughout
the country. Wearing a poppy is common in the UK, symbolising the blood that
flowed and the flowers that grew “in Flanders fields”. The French equivalent, le
bleuet
, or cornflower, is less well known.

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Meet the Ocelots: Lorenzo from ‘The Ghostly Father’

Today it’s my turn to interview another Ocelot Press author’s character. And I’m so pleased that it’s Fra’ Lorenzo, the gentle friar from Sue Barnard’s The Ghostly Father. Here he is above in a lovely drawing by Sue’s friend, Kay Sluterbeck.

Sue’s novel is an alternative version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Like many people, she wasn’t happy with the ending, so she decided to write her own. Fra’ Lorenzo, otherwise known as Friar Laurence in the Bard’s play, becomes a Franciscan friar, which allows him to pursue his interest in medicine. But he harbours a secret and some lifelong regrets. Let’s hear what he has to say about them.

Also, The Ghostly Father is on offer at a reduced price this week. AND Sue is offering a prize of another of her books. Read on to find out more.

Continue reading “Meet the Ocelots: Lorenzo from ‘The Ghostly Father’”