This book is the latest in The Guernsey Novel series which began life with book 1 ‘Dangerous Waters’ in 2012. I had initially set out to write a book. Full stop. Thanks to the many happy years I had spent in Guernsey, reluctantly leaving a few years before, the setting for this new venture had to be this beautiful island. I must have enjoyed writing the first book as I went on to write another even though I couldn’t attract an agent. My day job was offering psychotherapy to people with a variety of issues or addictions and writing was a wonderful escape from real life.
‘The Inheritance’ is book 7 and was meant to be published in 2018 to keep up my record of a book a year. However, thanks to the large amount of research involved, together with various life events, it is only now making its belated appearance on the world stage. Do I hear any rounds of applause? No? Oh, well…
My previous books have been set mainly in contemporary Guernsey, but with reference to the German Occupation of WWII, which I had researched well. This one, however, is dual-time between Victorian and modern times. The shift was sparked by my interest in the larger than life character of Victor Hugo, who lived in exile in Guernsey from 1855 to 1870. If the name’s familiar, he’s the author of Les Misérables, now a huge musical hit of stage and screen. He also wrote ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ which became a film many years ago. Hugo was the leading literary light of France, famous for his novels and poems, and had a world-wide reputation. He was also a politician and fell out big-time with Emperor Napoleon III, hence the exile. Others were forced into exile also and some followed him, first to Jersey and then to Guernsey. He found a home for himself, his wife and three adult children in St Peter Port, the capital of Guernsey. Really it’s the only town. Hugo named his house – the first he had ever owned – Hauteville House after the street it was in and rented a house nearby for his mistress, Juliette Drouet.
I have visited Hauteville House twice and it’s the most fascinating private house I’ve ever seen. Opulent, chock full of paintings, tapestries, wooden carvings and porcelain, it is as Hugo left it. I couldn’t help but think it would be a nightmare to dust! But once I started reading biographies of the man I realized how much his home fitted his persona. Hugo loved making things and many of the carvings are his and he also painted, with some of his work on display. A true polymath.
Hugo carried on with his writings once he had settled into his house with the ever-present builders and craftsmen. He finished ‘Les Misérables’ in 1862 and it was hailed as an international success, soon being translated into English for the British and American market. It is shortly before this point that my story begins when Eugénie, my character, meets Hugo under unfortunate circumstances. I mix fact with fiction and many of the characters in this part of the story were real people. Writing the book was a challenge but I learned so much about not only Hugo and his family, but how ordinary people lived in late 19thC Guernsey and France.
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, seven having been published. The books form a series, but each one is a standalone story with links to other books and characters. Although not originally planned, Anne is, in effect, writing a saga of Guernsey; featuring numerous characters and stories covering the German Occupation, Victorian Guernsey and the present day. A mix of family drama, mystery and love, the books have a wide appeal to readers of all ages.
The Inheritance – Blurb
How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?
1862 Young widow Eugénie is left bereft when her husband dies suddenly and faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island in his opulent house only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.
2012 Doctor Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey born though now living in Exeter, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and who, according to family myth, was particularly close to Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Tess is keen to find out and returning to the island presents her with the ideal opportunity.
Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.
“A gorgeously intriguing story set in a beautiful location. I completely identified with contemporary heroine Tess and Victorian heroine Eugénie, who both became real for me. I was sorry to part company with them both”. Margaret James, Author of ‘The Final Reckoning’.