The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard, and an upcoming interview of the author


The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard

I am always on the lookout for French-themed historical fiction. So when I heard of The Black Tower by Louis Bayard, I knew I had to read the novel.

The setting is 1818 Paris. The Bourbons have been unsteadily restored to the throne of France after the successive upheavals of the Revolution and Napoleon’s reign. The novel features no less a character than the legendary (yet historical) convict turned detective Vidocq.

The narrator, naive medical student Hector Carpentier, crosses Vidocq’s path, and also that of a young man who might be Louis XVII, the son of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Hector will soon come to understand that there is no making sense of the present without uncovering, however painfully, the secrets of the past. The Revolution is over, or so would the characters like to believe, but it casts a long shadow.

As a native Frenchwoman, a lover of fast-paced mysteries, a fellow novelist, I found The BlackTower most enjoyable. First I should note that Louis writes beautifully.His style is spare, elegant, evocative. The characterization is equallycompelling. The protagonists are male, but the female figures are exquisitelydelineated, in particular the Duchess d’Angoulême, sister of Louis XVII, and the narrator’s (fictional) mother. No formulas, no clichéshere. This is writing as it should be.

I am delighted to announce that the author has kindly agreed to be interviewed for Versailles and more. To be posted next week. Stay tuned!

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