Friday 17 November 2017

Blog Tour Guest Post - Sweet Bergamasque by Quentin Smith

Sweet Bergamasque
Author: Quentin Smith
Release Date: June 25, 2017
Keywords: War, Wine, Adventure, Romance, Tragedy, France, Historical
Categories: Historical/Military/Adventure
Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-1544887418
Imprint: White Stag

One Liner:
How the French kept their best wines from the Germans in WW2: wine maker Jean-Marc joins the resistance to steal back their national treasure.

Book Description:
Jean-Marc is nurturing his first decent Bordeaux vintage in a decade when the German army invades France in June 1940. His decision not to flee with his wife and children will haunt him throughout the war, but when he loses his wine farm to the occupiers and is forced to hide in his neighbour’s cave cellars, the opportunity to join the maquis and retaliate is irresistible. Amongst his new comrades is the enigmatic Monique and their journey is one of bravery, unexpected romance and eventual tragedy, leaving Jean-Marc out for revenge.

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My interest in European history, WW2 and my love for French wine and summer vacations in south-west France form the backbone to the birth of this book. While enjoying an August vacation several years ago in Villefranche, which is not far from Bordeaux, I found a very old book about the history of German occupation of France’s premier wine regions: Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. Many high ranking Nazis loved their French wines and gave orders for plundering the very best of France’s national treasure back to Berlin. They sent special weinf├╝hrers to each region to oversee the steady supply of wine and to keep the local producers in line. There was a great deal of collaboration, illicit dealing as well as covert and dangerous support for the French resistance amongst the wine producers. I devoured the book with intense interest, came home and managed to find a copy of the book because I knew immediately that the theme of German occupation of Bordeaux told from the wine makers perspective would make for a superb novel. There is always a great deal of planning, research and thought that precedes any writing for me, so it probably took another couple of years before I was ready and finished with other projects. The result is Sweet Bergamasque, told from the perspective of a relatively humble wine grower outside St Emilion, Jean-Marc, who happens to be Jewish (as many of the French wine growers were) and therefore has to hide from the occupying Germans. I wanted conflict so I created diverse and strong-willed characters amongst the resistance group who would clash instantly with the humble wine grower. Typically amongst the French, there is a lot of jealousy - between Jean-Marc and his more successful neighbor, between members of the resistance and Jean-Marc for his romance with Monique. There had of course to be romance and Monique is not quite what she seems, which ultimately is her downfall, but she and Jean-Marc are like-minded in their goals against the Germans and inevitably fall in love. Tragedy is never far away with war and romance as intertwined themes.

About the Author
In addition to being an anaesthetist, Quentin Smith has a long-standing passion for writing. He has published articles and papers in The British Journal of Anaesthesia, Anaesthesia News, Anaesthesia and Critical Care, Hospital Medicine, Today’s Anaesthetist, Spark, and Insight.

Following a five year term as editor of Today’s Anaesthetist, he undertook creative writing study through The Writing School, New College Durham, The London School of Journalism including a coveted place on the Curtis Brown Creative fiction course in 2014.

He is the author of three previously published novels: The Secret Anatomy of Candles (Matador 2012); Huber’s Tattoo (Matador 2014); 16mm of Innocence (Matador 2015). Huber’s Tattoo was runner-up in The People’s Book Prize 2015 and 16mm of Innocence was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2016. His recent novels reveal his interest in European history and the Second World War in particular.

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