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Why all the Chrysanthemums?

Today, November 1st is a public holiday in France — La Toussaint, or All Saints Day — when the Catholic church honours all the saints an martyrs of Christian history.

Every All Saints Day, cemeteries all over France come alive (pun intended!) with people honouring their loved ones: weeding and tidying up graves, placing fresh pots of chrysanthemums and other flowers, and wreaths, at each tomb or grave. It is also thought of as a moment of contemplation about the lost loved one.

Colourful chrysanthemums flowers in the cemetery

But what a sad and sombre thing to do, you might think. No, au contraire! Amidst the dismal November fog and chill, the graveyards are transformed into cheerful, bright and colourful places.

To celebrate this year’s Toussaint, my French historical novel, Lake of Echoes, is on sale for a short time only, for just 99c/p.  Read an extract below.


Lake of Echoes is book 1 in my new French historical Sainte-Marie-du-Lac series and, right now, I’m working on the edits of book 2, The Widows’ Circle.

Watch this space!

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EXTRACT from Lake of Echoes

The old church bell clanged thin and soulful as Dommy and I approached the cemetery of Sainte-Marie-du-Lac, my sister holding my arm as if I were a feeble old woman.

It was the first day of November, la Toussaint, and this All Saints Day had dawned overcast, fog as thick as the smoke plumes from the Gauloises people were puffing on. A fog that had slithered beneath my skin, stolen the last fragments of my energy, and left me without the slightest will to go on.  Linda walked beside us, carrying the basket containing two pots of yellow and pink chrysanthemums.

Bonjour,’ we said to Père Châtaigne who was clipping the rose bushes that leaned up against the old stones of Saint Julien’s, the church in which I’d married Bruno Bellefontaine almost ten years ago. Sadness shrouded me again as I thought how that happy celebration had degenerated into an almost continual battle.

‘Bonjour, Léa, Dominique.’ The old priest raised his clippers in greeting.

We said hello to our hairdresser, Madeleine Sorel, who was tidying a plot.

‘Seeing Madeleine reminds me I haven’t had a haircut for over six months,’ I said.

‘A tidy-up of that bird’s nest might cheer you up a little,’ Dommy said, glancing over my tangle of hair that I no longer had the energy to drag a brush through.

‘As if a haircut would make any difference,’ I said, that tomb-cold sliding right to my core. ‘Since Clotilde’s card reading six weeks ago, you know as well as me there hasn’t been a speck of news about Juliette — no more sightings of men who resembled either of the identikit pictures, no more suspects. Nothing. I’m really wondering if, like you all think, I’m deluding myself believing in Clotilde’s vision of Juliette alive and well?’

Like a shipwrecked sailor adrift, days passing without rescue, and no fresh water or land in sight, I was also finding it harder to battle my frustration with Major Rocamadour’s lack of progress. Surely if he was going to find this evil abductor, and rescue the girls, he’d have done so by now?

Read the book for only 99c/p HERE!