It’s lovely to have best-selling author Angela Wren on my blog today. Angela writes wonderfully absorbing and evocative crime novels based in France, starring her steely gendarme Jacques Forêt. Her latest novel, Montbel, is published on 13th November. Over to Angela:
Hello Alice, thank you for inviting me onto your blog. I thought I’d take you and your regular readers on a visit to Mende today. But, before we set off, I probably need to supply a few facts and a bit of history.
Sitting on the southern edge of the Massif Central, Mende is the préfecture – principal administrative city – for the département of Lozère in the newly created (January 01, 2016) Occitanie region of France. With a population of around 12,000 and an area of 14 square miles, the town sits in the high valley of the Lot about 30k due west of Mont Goulet and the source of the river. At an altitude of 700m, living here is bit like living near the top of Cross Fell in the Pennines, but with better weather.
There has been habitation on this spot for over 2,000 years and the history is varied and complex. Raided and sacked on numerous occasions – not least during the Religious Wars –Mende has survived to be the prominent town that it is, centred around its old medieval foundations with the modern city surrounding it.
We begin our visit in Place Urbain V with a look at the cathedral. The Basilica of Notre-Dame-et-St-Privat is striking because of its mismatched towers. Begun in the 14th Century, under the auspices of the then Pope Urbain V, the cathedral was partially destroyed during the Religious Wars of the 16th Century – hence the odd towers. The original bell ‘Non Pareille’, then the largest bell ever to have been cast, was melted down for bullets so that Capitaine Mathieu Merle and his Huguenot soldiers could continue the fight. With more than 10 interior chapels, Aubusson tapestries in rainbow colours and the detailed vaulting, this is a truly magnificent example of the changing architecture over the centuries.
Out in the sunshine again and we are going to take a right, past the préfecture building into the narrow streets of the old medieval town. With houses of three and four stories high, so close that neighbours could almost shake hands above the cobbles as they reach out of their open windows, the shade is welcome and necessary in the mid-day heat. This part of the city became the home to hundreds of Jewish traders and remained their domain right up until the 20th century. And it is here that my character Beth has her photographic studio and shop.
We’ll take the short walk back to the préfecture. It was in this building, during the 1939/45 war that the Mayor, Henri Bourrillon, defied the Vichy regime. Bourrillon objected to the internment camp that was built close to the town and, his words, actions and further objections caused him to be removed from his position of authority in 1941. Henri took this in his stride and joined the Resistance and Mende, and some of its bravest people, took on a new role in support of the Jewish community within the city. Now, Henri is forever remembered as you stroll down the boulevard that is named after him.
I love Angela’s moody covers, which perfectly fit her novels. Here’s a little bit more information about Angela and Montbel, her latest novel:
A clear-cut case?
A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.
When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.
Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?
And here’s some background on Angela herself and her varied career:
‘Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.
I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.’
Amazon : AngelaWren
Website : www.angelawren.co.uk
Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com
Facebook : Angela Wren
Goodreads : Angela Wren
Contact an author : Angela Wren