A Research High

Does anyone else enjoy, I mean really enjoy, researching? Well, it’s not a big secret at my house how much I LOVE and thrive on research. That is one reason I love to plot and write historical fiction. All those facts weaved in with fiction. What a combination! Another plus of stay at home–joining my Jane Austen binge, NaNoWriMo writing, and gardening–is research.

IMG_5166I usually have to wait until the summer or Christmas break to read and study all the books for a new project. A blessing during quarantine has been my research on 1740s France during the Enlightenment era with characters such as King Louis XV, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Madame Dupin and her salons. I chose the period before the French Revolution to add a glimpse of what led to the downfall of the monarchy.

IMG_5165I set my new work at the Chenonceau château–my favorite place on earth! No, really. This castle is called the Ladies’ Château for most of the owners have been women. In 1740 the famous woman was Louise Dupin who is known for her enlightening salons where celebrated and want-to-be philosophers met and expounded on their thoughts and theories. I’m using this search for knowledge and truth as the background for my characters facing “truth” in its many forms.

IMG_5167Even though I’ve started writing my novel, I continue to research. When I rewrite it, I’ll include any tidbits that I need to ground it in history. I always feel down when I’ve finished a research project.

Bring on the non-fiction research materials. I purchase my research books so that I can glean more from them at any point. For Whispers of Wisdom (Book three in Gardens of Time) I’ll read and use about twenty resources.

IMG_5168Oh, and did I mention that part of my research always includes a personal visit to the sites that I include in my novels? I continue to show up on the Chenonceau property to wander the rooms and stroll the avenues and gardens.

Is there any research you are passionate about when you have time to explore? Vacation planning, ancestry, how to….

Love’s Rescue Review and Giveaway

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About the Book

Book: Love’s RescueLove's Rescue

Author: Linda Shenton Matchett

Genre: Historic Romance

Release Date: February 14, 2019

A prostitute, a spy, and the liberation of Paris.

Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp?

Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city?

Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods.

 

Click here to purchase your copy.

My Review

Linda Matchett’s novella, Love’s Rescue, touches at the heart of many issues arising during trying, abnormal times. “Rahab” meets the French Resistance at the end of WWII in Paris. Accusations abound around Rolande and her involvement with the Nazi stationed in occupied Paris. Her family is the first to shun her, to turn her away.

Yet, God has a plan. Doesn’t he always make himself known even in the bleakest corner of our lives. Matchett allows her characters to make life-changing decisions that lead them down paths of hardship and sin, yet God is waiting to use their lives for his good.

Join Rolande and Simon on a journey of redemption and hope. Thank you, Linda, for a glimpse into a part of our lives that we want to hide but knowing that there is another purpose for our pain and suffering.

About the Author

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, speaker, and history geek. A native of Baltimore, Linda-Matchett-Head-Shot-200x300Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry (of Star Spangled Banner fame) and has lived in historic places all her life. Linda is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in Crime. She is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library.

 

More from Linda

Dear Reader:

Love’s Rescue is a modern retelling of the biblical book of Rahab. I set the story in Paris during the last weeks of the German occupation of France during WWII. While researching the book, I read numerous memoirs and interviews of folks who lived through the occupation. Two aspects discussed time and time again were rationing and the difficulty in getting food. People with any amount of land at all planted produce to supplement the meager supply in the shops. If they were fortunate and an egg was available, it would be fried to a runny consistency and poured over the top of the dish.

Here is a simple recipe for Ratatouille:

Ingredients

1 whole white onion

1 large eggplant

1 large zucchini

1 bell pepper

2 medium tomatoes

2 large cloves garlic

2 sprigs thyme

2 T Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

 

Instructions

  • Peel garlic cloves. Smash with end of knife, then cut into a small dice.
  • Cut onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes into a medium dice.
  • Chop the eggplant and zucchini into 1” cubes.
  • In a large saucepan or pot, warm olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Warm over low heat. Add the onion to the pot and cook until tender – about five minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.
  • Add remaining vegetables to the pot.
  • Add a generous pinch of salt and a light pinch of pepper.
  • Add the thyme.
  • Cover the saucepan or pot with a lid and cook over medium-low heat for approximately 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender and there is little liquid in the pot.
  • Serve on your favorite platter.

Bon Appétit!

 

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, April 16

Carpe Diem, April 17

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, April 18

Reflections From My Bookshelves, April 19

Inklings and notions , April 20

A Reader’s Brain, April 21

Genesis 5020, April 22

Books, Books, and More Books., April 22

Carla Loves to Read, April 23

Connie’s History Classroom, April 23

For Him and my Family, April 24

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, April 24

Maureen’s Musings, April 25

Connect in Fiction, April 26

Through the Fire Blogs, April 26

mpbooksApril 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, April 27

Real World Bible Study, April 28

My Devotional Thoughts , April 28

janicesbookreviews, April 29

The Becca Files, April 29

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Linda is giving away a grand prize of a French/WWII themed gift basket that includes a WWII Word Find book by Linda Shenton Matchett, Love’s Rescue – Wartime Brides Book 2 by Linda Shenton Matchett, French-milled soap lavender scent, a Fleur-de-lis ribbon book mark, a set of three note pads with French motif, and a set of cocktail napkins with French motif!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/de7e/love-s-rescue-celebration-tour-giveaway

Please comment on this post for a chance to win the prize.

The cigales of Provence (Cicadas)

As I contemplate writing about the awesome cigales (cicadas) of Provence, I’m concentrating on the sounds around me that I hear consistently every day or in a particular season. Since I live in a small town, the noises surrounding me are different from the ones in a city. Before we moved, my ears acclimated to the sounds of traffic, sirens, children playing, dogs barking in back yards, and doves.

Now, I hear birds, frogs, trains, dogs, wind in the trees, rain, distant interstate traffic, and silence. My ears tend to get used to my surroundings. I’m glad. Otherwise, the trains would render me sleepless!

On our road trip through France in July, we continued our journey from Andorra to Carcassonne and on into Provence to the village of Rousillon. On a narrow country road, we heard a loud, constant raucous, a rhythmical din, a roar as bold as any train. Actually, we thought it was a train or a roaring river hidden behind the trees. After rolling down the windows, my daughter suggested it was coming from a thousand insects! Mesmerized by the sound and the possibility, we determined to find the source. No, not by traipsing through the woods. We waited to ask our questions, but not for long. Rousillon gave us all of our answers without asking anyone.

The cigale was on many postcards and posters. A postcard explained that the cigale (cicada) is the symbol of Provence, France. We began to see them everywhere, except alive in the trees. In high summer (in July), the insects perform their symphony for hours on end. To me it sounded like a harmony of millions. I guess it could have been. I loved every minute of it, and as with anything heard for a period of time, I became used to it and less disturbed. But I wanted to know more, because the cigale had made it into art forms like soap and paintings and sculptures.

IMG_5279Here are a few facts about these amazing insects of Provence:

  1. There are about 15 species of cicada in Provence. The provençal cicadas live for four years.

2) The males make the noise to attract females to the tree where they are sitting.

3) The cicada is one of the world’s loudest insects, recording sound of up to 120 decibels.

4) Cicadas are on pottery and fabric, in paintings, sculpted, immortalized in song and novels and drama.

5) In Provence, there are restaurants called La Cigale, but the insect is not a delicacy on the menu as in other countries.

IMG_0554I hope you enjoy these little tidbits about the cicada. I was pleasantly surprised to find an insect receiving so much attention.

 

Do you have cicadas where you live? I do but nothing like those of Provence.

Follow the Owl

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Follow the owl and what will you find? Have you ever planned a trip and had to include a random night or two just to get you closer to your destination? A place to lay your head, to stretch your legs, to satisfy your hunger. This is the place on which you did the least amount of research.

From experience this added stop can end up being an unexpected, special jewel–a hidden treasure.

IMG_3995If there ever was a planner, I am one. I believe half the fun of a trip is the planning. But on my recent trip to France, my daughter and I had two nights we had to insert to travel from the Mediterranean coast of Italy to Paris. The only planning was a map and mileage. One night in Geneva, Switzerland and one in Dijon, France. We were tired after leaving the mountains of Switzerland and needed to rest. Little did we know Dijon would become one of the highlights of our trip. Unexpected. Charming. Interesting. Perfect.

A moment in time, swelling with potential and promises.

And an owl–la chouette.

Our AirBnB was in the old town center in an apartment nestled between old 16th century timber-framed houses. Cobblestone streets wound through the heart of the ancient city. We immediately felt like this place surpassed some of the destinations and events we had planned and researched for months. How did we miss it in our plans? It deserved our attention beforehand.

Dijon is about three hours southwest of Paris in Burgundy, France. It offers glimpses of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as well as more modern attractions of the 18th and 19th centuries. Our host suggested we follow the Owl’s Trail. We nodded not understanding at all what she meant. How can you follow an owl’s trail? With map in hand, we set out on the cobblestone streets. After admiring the timbered buildings above the old storefronts, we looked down and noticed brass plates in the old stones.

An owl and a number!

Heeding the words of our host, we followed the trail which took us to monuments and buildings, churches and houses, breathing with historic stories and details. The 13th century Gothic church of Notre-Dame boasted of rows and rows of gargoyles. Here is where we found the famous owl, la chouette. It is a symbol of good luck and peace on the left side of the church. The stone statue carved into the wall has been rubbed by passers-by as a good luck charm. We bought a children’s book call The Dijon Owl’s Secret that fictionalizes the owl’s story.

IMG_0933One of my favorite things to do is to find a tower to climb. My daughter acquiesces to my wishes with a smile. Tour Philippe Le Bon was erected in the middle of the 15th century and offered a wealth of historical information about Dijon as well as spectacular views.

We ate boeuf bourguignon and escargot, bought Dijon mustard, and fell in love with this town. I’m thankful for the surprises along life’s journey. I still believe in planning, but spontaneous decisions can unfold into golden memories, precious blessings.

Follow the owl and see where it leads.

Can you think of a time on your life journey when the unplanned turned into a wonderful escapade?

 

Dead end Research? No way!

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Bordeaux, France

As many of you know, I spend lots of hours in research on family history and on historical data for my novels. I like to keep my novels in a real historical setting with quite a few historical characters that I bring to life on the pages. In the states, I’ve been very successful in my genealogical research, but I want to go further back, across the pond and onto the continent–France in particular.

IMG_2957In July on vacation with my daughter, I included a two-day research option in Bordeaux, France. Family oral stories relate that Louis Lestarjette (the male protagonist in my Revolutionary Faith Series) sailed from Bordeaux to South Carolina around 1770. Also, one oral source remembered seeing Lestarjette on a storefront in the city. It was a place to start since my internet research had come to a halt.

After visiting a local library in Bordeaux, I learned that the information I sought was in the National Archives, especially since I had a great hunch by now that Louis was not from Bordeaux. Perhaps he had only set sail from the city, if even that.

Still I decided to check a few cemeteries boosting of graves from the 1770s. We chose Chautreuse Cemetery and wandered perhaps a fourth of it looking for names. I felt at peace on the old foot paths. This burial ground in the past was Catholic although in the present it has morphed into a mixture of denomination. No luck. And no plot record available.

Next, we chose the Protestant cemetery. Smaller and more manageable. But no Lestarjettes. Here the cemetery director and archivist assured us that no Lestarjettes were there. She gave us her contact information which in turn gives me a lead to follow to other national cemeteries. A ribbon of hope.

IMG_4107Another family story places Louis’s mother under the guillotine’s blade, beheaded during the French Revolution. I didn’t want to find her name on a list, but I knew I must research it. At the Conciergerie in Paris–the prison that once housed thousands of people facing executions during the Revolution including King Louis and Marie Antoinette–a room has been designed with all of the names of the executed on the walls and in a hands-on computer data base. We searched and found no Lestarjettes. I’m glad. Yet, people all over France were executed outside of the Conciergerie.

Even with these dead ends, I’m not discouraged. One day I will find the one tiny link that I need to connect my Louis with his past and mine.

What genealogical resource have you used?

Château de Chenonceau

IMG_0107.JPGMy FAVORITE place on earth–the Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley on the River Cher in France. This fairytale castle captured my heart and imagination forty years ago and draws me back often. My most recent visit took place in July. My heart dances at the thought of it.

IMG_2726Built in the 16th century, this “small” rather magical place has housed many flamboyant characters from kings and queens to mistresses and philosophers. The stories vibrate from the tapestries, paneled rooms, tiled floors, stone staircases, and treasures displayed throughout the rooms.

And oh, the stories going around in my head! One will become a novel, a part of my Gardens in Time Series (yet to be published.) Book #3 will take place in Chenonceau during the Age of Enlightenment in France around 1750. The historical characters will be Louise Dupin who surrounded herself with poets, writers, scientists, and philosophers as well as those on the political scene. Her salon became infamous as a stage for debates and ideas prior to the American and French Revolutions.

IMG_0110The fictional characters of my novel will interact with those who question traditional authority and ways. Lisette, possibly the name of the heroine, has always lived on the farm connected with the castle and now supplies the flowers and ornamental foliage that perfumes the salons and enhance the guests’ experience. Christophe performs the role of a guard acting on behalf of the king keeping the grounds safe. How will their lives change as the ones within the walls of the castle deem it necessary to change the world? The gardens of the castle act as a perfect backdrop for intrigue, love, good food, beauty, secrets, peace, and dreams whether royalty or commoner, educated or illiterate.

IMG_2644Today the grounds of the Château de Chenonceau in France are a gardener’s delight. They have been maintained with their original structure and intent in place. Each time I visit there is more improvement and much more to explore. The formal gardens of Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de Médicis are manicured to perfection in all seasons. I explored the Labyrinth with my daughter as well as a huge garden divided into plots full of all the vegetation used for decorating the chateau. Hundreds of varieties of flowers, fruit, and vegetables occupy the area, giving the visitor a visual of what it might have been like a few centuries ago. Also, there is a 16th century farm complete with stables, houses, pond, and storage rooms.

My mind was overloaded with ideas and images as I walked on this historic ground one more time. I hope to write this novel soon and send it on its way.

Is there a place that you want as a setting for a novel? (I have so many!!)