Thursday, June 6, 2024

Have a sneak peek between the covers of Michèle Callard's evocative novel — The Sand Vines #HistoricalFiction #FrenchHistoricalFiction #BlogTour @cathiedunn

The Sand Vines

The Vine Saga, Book #1

by Michèle Callard

Bordeaux 1870 – Life is hard on the moor.

If Flore, a shepherd’s daughter, is not married by autumn, she must go into service and lose everything she holds dear.

Back form the French army, the dashing Ricar has set her heart and body on fire. Will he propose to her before it is too late?

Martial the viscount’s son adores Flore from afar. Aware that she can never be his. When a betrayal and a forest fire put Flore in danger, Martial seizes his chance, grabs her hand and takes her to safety far away in the north of France, hoping they might start afresh, but war looms. . .

Will it bring them together or tear them apart?

Women doctors

The conversation turned to medical matters and the superiority of the American Field Hospital where, in spite of her medical qualifications, Mary Putnam had struggled to find a position as a nurse. 

Exhausted, Flore let the conversations roll over her, lulled by the hiss of the gaslights, the scraping of knives and the buzz of a bug trapped inside the lace curtains. 

Mary said something to her.


‘Flore, c’est ça? 

‘Oui. Flore.’

‘I hear you came across people fleeing their homes?’

‘Yes. We were working at Monsieur Godin’s factory. Have you heard of him?’

‘Oh yes. His utopian community is such an interesting concept.’ Mary’s brown eyes lit up. ‘What did you do there?’

‘I was an apprentice in a shop and—’ Flore searched for the simplest explanation. ‘I was learning the basics of accountancy.’

‘Is that what you’re interested in?’

‘Yes. I’m good with numbers.’ A blush crept to Flore’s cheeks. ‘You’re a doctor, aren’t you? How did you—Were you able to—’

‘Stand my ground in a world of men?’

Flore nodded, her cheeks now aflame.

‘As you heard, I still have a way to go, but I would say this: When you were a child and you were unwell, who tended to you?’

‘Hmm—my grandmother knew plants.’ Flore’s gaze slid around the table, relieved that no one was paying them attention.  

‘Your grandmother gave you concoctions, herbs and tisanes to make you better. Your grandmother was in charge of the family’s health. Did people raise an eyebrow when you told them you wanted to study accounts?’

‘Well, I—I only told Mademoiselle Moret. She’s Monsieur Godin’s—’

‘Monsieur Godin’s assistant.’ Martial came to her rescue. ‘She was very supportive, but I see what you mean, Mary. There were no women in the accounts department.’

‘Exactly. In the home, women also hold the purse strings and yet—’ Mary turned to Violette and narrowed her eyes at her. ‘—it is clear that women have always been in charge of their family’s health and finances, but strangely, there are some who think that to be a doctor or an accountant, a woman needs the brain of a man.’

Violette’s china doll complexion turned a dark beetroot hue.

‘The only thing women do not do,’ the American stressed, ‘is fight useless wars.’  

Gontran, the banker, lifted an elegant hand. ‘Louis-Napoléon, who started with the best intentions of applying social reform, is completely at the mercy of financiers. I’m afraid the rumour in financial circles was that a short war would boost a falling stock exchange. The bankers, not Empress Eugenie, talked him into declaring war on Germany.’

Mary’s hand jumped to her high collar. ‘Oh no! How dreadful!’

‘How Mammon rules the world,’ Martial commented in a funereal voice.

Flore was about to ask who Mammon was when Jules clapped his hands. ‘Right. Now we’ve put the world to rights, who’s coming to the Folies Bergère with us?’

Flore whispered to Martial in Occitan, ‘I don’t mind, as long as she doesn’t come along.’ 

Unfortunately, Violette thought it a grand idea. 

After dinner, they moved to the yellow salon while waiting for Violette to change into what she called her ‘midinette outfit’. 

A striped summer skirt showing off petticoats, a fringed shawl and a round hat were Violette’s idea of a working-class girl. In a merry mood, they all piled into Jules’s largest carriage. 

As they trotted past Gare Saint-Lazare, people were settling down around the station for the night. Uprooted from their suburbs, they had come to Paris looking for refuge inside the impregnable walls while, in the east of France, the emperor’s army defeated the Hun, convinced—just as Violette was—that it would only be a matter of weeks. 

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

Universal Buy Link

You'll receive an enticing free prequel short story, Before the Pines, when you sign up to Michèle's newsletter, at!

Michèle Callard

Michèle Callard grew up in France. A country girl at heart, she swapped her Paris flat for a cottage in rural England where she lives with her Irish husband and the youngest of her three sons.

She writes fast-paced novels set in different regions of France, bursting with authentic characters, colours, flavours and history.

Connect with Michèle:

Website • Facebook • Instagram • Threads

No comments:

Post a Comment