Every village in France has its war memorial, the lists of names a sad litany of those “morts pour la France”. The longest rollcall by far is that of World War I. Few families were spared the tragedy of deaths, sometimes multiple, injuries and enduring mental scars. More than a century later, the memory stillContinue reading “A Poignant Anniversary: the Armistice of World War I”
On 11th November 1918, the armistice that ended the fighting on the Western Front came into force, although the conflict continued elsewhere. The human and economic costs of the Great War were colossal. An estimated 9.5 million soldiers and 12 million civilians died, while a further 21 million military were wounded. The total financial costContinue reading “The Treaty of Versailles, 28th June 1919”
This weekend marks the outbreak of World War I, 105 years ago in 1914. On 2nd August the French government issued the general mobilisation order. The following day, Germany declared war on France. On 4th August, Britain in turn declared war on Germany. The stage was set for one of the bloodiest – and mostContinue reading “Going to War in 1914: French People’s Reactions to Mobilisation”
“But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you areContinue reading “Eleven o’clock on the eleventh day of the eleventh month”
My first novel, The House at Zaronza, is four years old and to celebrate I have one signed paperback copy to award to a lucky winner. Read on to find out how to enter.
April will see the reissue of The House at Zaronza, my novel set in early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front during World War I. It was first published by Crooked Cat Books in 2014, and I’m eternally grateful to them for taking me on and for everything I have learned in the process. They tellContinue reading “New Horizons: Tales of Corsica”
At 11 am on this day in 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front. Ninety-nine years later, none of the combatants in that terrible war is alive, but the memories still echo down the years. In France, where I live, the smallest village has its war memorial. Often, several men with the same surnameContinue reading “True Inspiration for Fiction #5: the Ghosts of World War I”
In most Western nations, the practice of backstreet abortion has virtually disappeared now that abortion has been legalised. I don’t intend to open a debate here about the moral issues, but rather to look at the historical background, especially in France.
“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 andContinue reading “True Inspiration for Fiction #1: the Christmas Truce 1914”
When you’ve spent months, or even years, with your characters they somehow take on a surprising reality and a life of their own. I felt a bit empty when I typed ‘The End’ to The House at Zaronza since I had become very fond of my main character, Maria Orsini.