Clara’s third adventure is out in France this week. Serendipitously is begins in Paris, where Clara has been filming and is looking forward to a day off. The British intelligence service has other ideas though and they initiate a mission that leads Clara to the door of Hitler’s girlfriend, Eva Braun. As always, this novel was hugely pleasurable to research and involved some time in Paris, including investigating Coco Chanel, whose conduct during the war was not especially fragrant. I’m much looking forward to talking about the novel to an audience in France on March 11.
There’s a rather seductive title for this forthcoming event, but that may be on account of my glamorous co-panellists, Andrew Lownie and Rick Stroud, and even more, the chair, Elizabeth Buchan. We’ll be discussing our books at the Omnibus Arts Centre, I, Clapham Common north side, between 5pm and 6pm. and it would be fantastic if anyone can join us. In lieu of a picture of Clapham here’s a photograph of the building in Munich where, in 1938, Chamberlain signed the agreement that gained his lasting reputation as an appeaser, even though it did hold off war for another year.
Two days was not enough time to spend in Munich, but what an astonishing trove of unexpected treasure can be found there, if only you know where to look. Before I’d always focused on the Third Reich associations, as Munich was the cradle of National Socialism, so I’d never properly explored the vast number of exquisite artworks that are hanging in almost deserted museums like the Neue Pinakothek or the Lenbachhaus, whose room devoted to the animal paintings of Munich native Franz Marc is unforgettable. I especially loved his deer frolicking in the snow, a work of great beauty from an artist who was destined to die in the First World War. Compare the gentle vulnerability of these paintings to the tortured postwar works of Otto Dix and Georg Grosz. Above all, as someone commented to me, they embody tenderness, which is a greatly underrated virtue.
My first French book festival! I’m excited and slightly daunted to be attending the Polar Lens festival in March to publicise Les Roses Noires and Le Jardin d’hiver. Daunted because A level French seems a long way away but excited to get a glimpse of an entirely different book buying public. So if anyone happens to be near Lens that weekend, please drop in… http://www.polarlens.fr/wordpress/auteurs-present-polarlens/
I’m pleased to announce that Faith and Beauty is part of Kindle’s August promotion – just 99p this month. Ideal reading for beach, bath or bed! Just cut and paste or click on the link to find it….
I’m looking forward to a number of upcoming events this Autumn …
Friday, September 16th: Waterstones Piccadilly. Writing Evil: Fiction and the rise and fall of Nazi Germany: I’ll be talking about the rise and fall of the Third Reich and its portrayal in fiction with Michael Ridpath (Shadows of War), William Ryan (The Constant Soldier) and Jason Hewitt (Devastation Road). We’ll discuss our versions of life inside Nazi Germany from a variety of narrative angles, ask where the line between fact and fiction lies, and how novels can help us to understand the repercussions of Europe’s darkest hour.
Sunday September 18th: Chiswick Festival. 3pm: Professor Adrian Stevens is joined by authors Jane Thynne (Faith and Beauty) and James MacManus (Midnight in Berlin), as they discuss their individual explorations of this attempt on Hitler’s life and consider the appeal of capturing in their fiction the evocative sense of place that Berlin creates.
Monday, September 19th: Chiswick library. Berlin in Fiction.
Saturday, October 15th: Isle of Wight literary festival. I’ll be giving an illustrated talk called The Real Housewives of Nazi Germany exploring the lives of the Nazi wives and girlfriends, their influence on the politics of the Third Reich and the research and inspiration behind the Clara Vine series.
I had an interesting trip to Hornsey Town hall today as part of a TV documentary on Nazi women. The venue was chosen because of its remarkable 1930’s architecture, but while aspects of it are faintly redolent of the Third Reich, there is far more to this north London building. It’s tucked away in an underwhelming forecourt and at first glance it appears both neglected and ugly, yet as the first UK building to be constructed in the Modernist style (1933), its interior finishes, marble, wooden panelling and especially the lovely metalwork, are beautiful and inspiring. Well worth a look if you’re nearby.