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A Fascinating Voyage of Discovery: Kate Furnivall on Researching her New Novel, The Guardian of Lies

July 10, 2019

About the author

Kate Furnivall is the author of eight novels, including the international bestseller The Russian Concubine. She lives in Devon. 

You can read more about Kate and her books on her website.

Buy a copy of The Guardian of Lies here // Read our review of The Guardian of Lies here

Words // Kate Furnivall

Researching The Guardian of Lies was a fascinating voyage of discovery. The story is set mainly in the Camargue, the unique and spectacular marshlands of the Rhône delta in the south of France. To spend time there was a privilege and a delight.

I always start my research for a new novel by digging deep into reference books about the political and geographical landscape of the country. I also love to find diaries and memoirs of the period and I launch myself into the goldmine that is YouTube in search of old film footage and photographs. Then the time came for me to get my feet dirty by trekking the Camargue’s dusty trails myself.

The gateway to the Camargue is the town of Arles. That is where I chose to stay – in its Place du Forum. The name says it all. It is one of the oldest and loveliest places in all France, bristling with ancient Roman architecture and with mediaeval town-walls so vast they robbed me of all sense of scale. The sun-soaked streets are narrow and they rustle with the whisper of secrets behind the green shutters.

But the beating heart of the Camargue lies in its wild black bulls and untamed white horses that roam the flat and marshy landscape. I intended that they would also lie at the heart of my story, so I needed to feel their heat, to smell their sweat. Under the guidance of Gilles, one of the gardians, the stockmen who watch over the herds, I spent a day on a bull farm and swung up on to one of the sturdy white horses. I tucked my feet into the long stirrups, my heart pounding in my chest, and rode the trails of the salt-scented marshes. At sunset I watched thousands of flamingos take to the air on rose-tipped wings and I felt strongly the fierce bond that held the gardians in thrall to this bewitching region. I too was falling under its spell.

In sharp contrast to this unhurried existence where wine and livestock dictate the pace of life, I also had to research the high-powered American aircraft that were stationed at the nuclear airbase in 1953. A visit to the impressive American Air Museum at Duxford, UK, was invaluable.


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