Kate Furnivall’s Guardian of Lies set in France
Setting and location of The Guardian of Lies with Kate Furnivall
When a writer goes on a research trip to the Camargue region in the South of France, it’s exciting. When she invites you to join her on one of the wild horses she is going to ride, I admit that it’s less exciting and decidedly dangerous. However, I insist on reins and a saddle. This takes a while as it’s a wild horse after all, and off we go…
We arrive, me half dead looking like a scarecrow whilst Kate looks rather serene. We then settle down for a picnic and she tells me about the setting and locations of her latest novel The Guardian of Lies…..
The rays of the dying sun slanted at a low angle across the water and stole the last traces of colour. I watched as the mossy greens and silvers and soft aching blues merged into a blur. The flamingos with their stiff toothbrush legs were trawling through one of the lagoons for a final feed before taking to the skies to roost for the night. I stood transfixed. I couldn’t take my eyes off them when in flight they morphed into graceful ribbons of pink with startling flashes of black. The moment, I felt a small wave of pain pass through my chest- I knew exactly what it was. I was falling in love with the Camargue.
I had visited it years ago, just briefly passing through with no time to linger. However, even then I was caught by its magic and swore I would come back one day and set a book here. In The Guardian Of Lies I knew I had found a story that belonged to the Camargue.
The Camargue is a region that lies in the south-west of France . It’s formed by the beautiful marshy delta of the mighty Rhône river. This is a vast plain dotted with natural lagoons or étangs and fringed by reed marshes. These plains are rich in wildlife, surrounded by cultivated areas where rice and vines are grown. But the heartbeat of the Camargue lies in its wild black bulls and in the magnificent white horses that roam the land. Their hooves are large and splayed to cope with the boggy terrain as they live out in the marshes all year round.
My main character, Eloïse Caussade, is like these horses, small and tough. She was born and raised on a bull farm, a manade, and the harsh demands of the farming life have honed and shaped her. The rural way of life is in her blood but she tries to escape it by going to live and study in Paris. This is where we first meet her – in a frantic night-time car chase through the city. She races past the famous Les Halles market and nips over the Pont Neuf bridge, diving into the Left Bank and the maze of alleyways in the Latin Quarter. I spent a wonderful day last spring walking the chase route through Paris to ensure that it was authentic.
But Eloïse’s beloved brother, an Intelligence officer with the CIA, is almost killed in a car crash in Paris that Eloïse is convinced was no accident. Someone is trying to murder him! Therefore, she is drawn back to the Camargue in her hunt for the dangerous killer.
Many of the scenes take place on her father’s bull farm. In order to get the feel of it, I went “on safari” with the bulls and the white horses and the flamingos. I wanted to be able to smell their sweat and feel their heat and beauty of them sink into my bones. Many of the farms offer horses for hire, so I rode the wild trails. I rode across the marshes among the sea lavender and the vivid glasswort, finding shade under the spreading tamarisks, one of the few trees that can tolerate so much salt in the ground. Above all, I witnessed the fierce bond that exists between the “gardians” – the men who work the bulls and horses – and the animals themselves. This was to be crucial to my book.
It is 1953 and the Cold War is in place. The West and Soviet Russia are at each other’s throats. The nuclear threat casts its long dark shadow over my story when the Americans construct a nuclear air base near Eloïse’s father’s farm. In sharp contrast, another important player in the book is the city of Arles. This is an ancient and beautiful place with its twisty cobbled streets and honey-hued buildings. The magnificent Roman amphitheatre and massive mediaeval town walls cast their own shadows so dark and heavy that at times they can stop you in your tracks.
The Guardian of Lies is a story of spies and lies and questions that can tear a family apart. However, it is also about the power of love and loyalty and the healing strength of the land around us that we must do all in our power to save.
Thank you so much Kate! Once I’ve survived that horse riding experience, I shall head to a bookstore and buy a few copies for Christmas presents!
BookTrail Boarding Pass: Guardian of Lies bookreview