Every village in France has its war memorial, the lists of names a sad litany of those “morts pour la France”. The longest rollcall by far is that of World War I. Few families were spared the tragedy of deaths, sometimes multiple, injuries and enduring mental scars. More than a century later, the memory still echoes down the years.
Ocelot Press author Vanessa Couchman writes about the achievements of Pasquale Paoli, 18th-century statesman and revolutionary and a towering figure of his era. Today, he is little known outside Corsica and deserves wider recognition.
This post is taking part in the Historical Writers Forum autumn blog hop, in which we each choose a historical figure and explain why we are drawn to him or her. I’ve chosen Pasquale Paoli, who led the Corsican republic from 1755 to 1769.
Paoli probably never considered himself a revolutionary. To him, the struggle to liberate the island of Corsica from its Genoese masters was a nation state’s legitimate bid for independence, and he regarded himself on a par with other heads of state. Today, he is much less well known outside Corsica than his compatriot Napoleon Bonaparte, and yet he was a towering figure of his era.
Ocelot Press is delighted to announce that the eBook of Beathan The Brigante, the latest addition to Nancy Jardine’s highly-interlinked Celtic Fervour Series, is *FREE* on the 15th October 2020 across the Amazon network!
(Psst! And if you’re quick, you should find that some of the other books in the series have a reduced price during this special promotion.)
Book 5, Beathan The Brigante, features young Beathan of Garrigill, but it also depicts the interlinking of his life and that of the Ancient Roman General – Gnaeus Iulius Agricola who is a main character in Books 4 & 5.
Having been captured by the Ancient Roman legions, after the battle at Beinn na Ciche in north-east Caledonia, we pick up Beathan’s story in AD 85 at Trimontium Roman Fort where he is used as a menial fort slave. General Agricola, having been summoned back to Rome by Emperor Domitian, collects Beathan and some other high-ranking hostages at Trimontium Fort and drags them all off in chains.
During the long trek to Rome, Beathan learns surprising things about General Agricola. In turn, Agricola finds aspects to grudgingly admire in young warrior Beathan. Escape from, and revenge against, his captors doesn’t come quickly for Beathan. However, by AD 89 he is back in Brigantia – the land of his birth – where revenge blazes for him at Vindolanda Roman Fort. It’s gratifying that by then he is closer to a reunion with his much-missed Garrigill kin ,and it’s even better that romance with a young Brigante warrior-woman named Torrin has lightened his eventful life, even though he is still only seventeen.
Moving from place to place is a regular feature for the Garrigill Brigantes in the Celtic Fervour Series novels, especially as they become refugees fleeing from Brigantia to Caledonia, but young warrior Beathan can truly say that he is the most widely-travelled across the Roman Empire!
It’s a reasonable assumption that youths matured into men much faster in 1st Century AD, especially if they were subjected to the treatment that’s meted out to Beathan of Garrigill!
Who’s your favourite historical figure? There are plenty to choose from! Some are eternally famous, while others might have been prominent in their own time but have slid from recognition today.
Starting today, the Historical Writers Forum is organising a blog hop over a fortnight, in which seven historical fiction writers choose their favourite character from history and tell us why they find the person so fascinating.
Four Ocelot Press authors are involved:
Jennifer C. Wilson will write about Mary Queen of Scots, whom she has admitted to stalking before moving on to Richard III. Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth I after she was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James. Mary was held in captivity for more than 18 years and then executed, having been found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.
Nancy Jardine shines the spotlight on General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, a Roman general who was responsible for much of the conquest of Britain, but who seems to have fallen out of favour later in his career. Nancy’s atmospheric Celtic Fervour series focuses on the struggles between the Northern tribes and the Roman conquerors.
Sue Barnard’s choice is William Shakespeare – a name that people can’t fail to be familiar with! The Bard of Avon’s plays Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar are the inspiration behind two of Sue’s Ocelot Press novels: The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All.
Vanessa Couchman is on a mission to rehabilitate Pasquale Paoli, an 18th-century Corsican leader, who attempted to rid the island of Genoese rule. He headed the short-lived Corsican republic from 1755-1769, and combined the roles of statesman, lawgiver and general. He has a cameo role in Vanessa’s novel The Corsican Widow in her Tales of Corsica series.
Don’t miss our authors’ insights into their favourite historical characters.
Cas and Sam are back, having recovered from their adventures in The Calgary Chessman. Cas is settling into her home on the Isle of Mull. She’s starting to feel more comfortable as a lonely divorcee in the middle of nowhere, and she has friends now. Best friend Bernie is a comfort, even though the roof leaks and Cas can’t find a job. Her budding relationship with Ewan crashed before it had half begun, but she’s determined not to let their friendship suffer. And archaeologist Niall seems as married to his job as ever.
Sam, meanwhile, is preparing for his first year at university. He’s working as a intern at Niall’s dig on the beautiful island of Lismore (Gaelic Lios Mòr, the Great Garden) between Mull and the mainland. Sam’s grand sexuality reveal (in The Calgary Chessman) rocked the boat less than Cas might have expected, but don’t worry. There’s plenty more trouble where that came from.
The Lismore dig is looking for evidence of monastic settlement. Unlike the Isle of Iona (settled by Columba, arguably the most famous of all the Celtic churches’ monks) Lismore was founded by the less well-known Moluag. But physical evidence for his monastery’s location is hard to find, and the team is working hard.
Niall brings Cas to visit, and takes her to a second location, down on the south coast of the island, where he is thinking of opening a new site. There they make a gruesome discovery which will change the story of the island forever.
In the meantime, Sam has finally plucked up the courage to tell his homophobic dad that he’s gay. That goes about as well as you might expect, and at one point Cas and Niall are fearful for Sam’s safety. It’s up to Sam to deal with his father, though – he’s an adult now, as he’s fond of pointing out. How he does so will set the tone for his parental relationships for years to come.
Yvonne Marjot is a lost kiwi, now living on a Scottish island. She has been making up stories and poems for as long as she can remember, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (NZ Listener 1996). Her first collection, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, won the Britwriters Prize for Poetry in 2012. She is fascinated by the interface between human mind and the physical world, and her poems often have a scientific or mythological theme.
Her paranormal romance, Walking on Wild Airmybook.to/WalkingonWildAir, and The Calgary Chessman trilogy of archaeological romances are published with Ocelot Press. Her short story collection, Treacle and Other Twisted Talesmybook.to/treacle , is available from Crooked Cat Publishing.