Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that I’m currently working on the copyedit for The French Photographer, which will be out in late March 2019. Quite a few people have asked me for me details about the book, and while I can’t tell you too much right now, here’s a little bit about where and when the story is set, along with some of the pics I took on my research trip to France for the book last year.
The French Photographer: Who, Where and When
The French Photographer is a dual narrative like The Paris Seamstress. The historical narrative is set from 1942-1946 in New York, London, France, Italy and Germany. The contemporary narrative is set in a chateau near Reims in France in 2008 – and yes, I just had to go and stay in a chateau near Reims last year for research!
As I say in my Author’s Note in the back of the book, in some ways, this was the hardest book I’ve ever written. So many characters and storylines and time periods to bring together the way I imagined them in my head. But in other ways, it was the easiest book I’ve ever written. Jess and Dan, the two main characters in the historical narrative, came effortlessly to me; they were a true gift from the writing muse. The historical thread also features real life people such as Martha Gellhorn, one of the world’s foremost war journalists but often referred to as one of Ernest Hemingways’ wives.
D’Arcy, an art courier, and Josh, and artists’ agent, are the two main characters in the contemporary narrative. I can’t wait for you to meet them all next year!
Key Locations in the Novel
Jessica May, the main character in the book, spends quite a lot of time in the Hotel Scribe in Paris, along with Martha Gellhorn. Luckily the hotel is still there and I was able to stay there when I was in Paris.
Les Faux de Verzy are peculiar contorted dwarf beech trees that grow in a forest just near Reims, in the Champagne region in France. They are quite spectacular – the photos don’t do them justice, and they are important in the book.
Of course the chateau near Reims that I stayed in, Chateau de Courcelles, was stunning and I based the chateau in The French Photographer on this.
Inside the chateau was the Salon de Grisailles, or the grey salon. It is inlaid with boiserie, painted wood panels, which just draw you in to study them closely and which I had to include as a key motif in my book.
Omaha Beach was devastating to visit; you can truly still feel the souls of the dead there.
This image from one of the many museums I visited might give you a clue as to what Jess does (or tries to do) in the book.
And, finally, Buly 1803 is an amazing shop and line of divinely vintage-packaged body products and I managed to work the products into the book – which meant I had to buy some, of course!