Thursday, 02 June 2016 05:38

WSP Author Spotlight - Allan Massie

About the Novel

In the early summer of 1944, France is in turmoil. The Allied invasion, bringing the promise of Liberation, is awaited, eagerly and nervously. The Vichy regime is in its death throes. Those who have served it and collaborated with the German Occupation fear the revenge of the Resistance. Atrocities are committed on both sides, and justice is blind. Superintendent Lannes, suspended from duty by order of the Boches, searches unofficially for a missing girl, and investigates cases of historic sex abuse. His marriage is experiencing difficulties and he worries about his sons, one with the Free French, the other in Vichy. The narrative of this tense economical novel switches between Lannes in Bordeaux and the young characters met in the first three books of this Vichy Quartet, now caught up in the terrible drama of these months – in France, London and on the Eastern Front.

About the Author

Allan Massie CBE is the author of more than twenty novels. He read History at Cambridge and, as a political and literary journalist, is a regular contributor for the Scotsman, Telegraph and Wall Street Journal.

Allan Massie at the Book Festival
Allan will be appearing at three events at this years Festival :
Allan's own event for End Games in Bordeaux is on Thursday 16 June 7.30pm in the Knight Frank Marquee  Buy tickets
Walter Scott Prize Shortlist Event - Saturday 18 June 3.15pm in the Harmony Marquee  Buy tickets
Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction - Saturday 18 June 6.15pm Buy tickets

Reviews of End Games in Bordeaux

'A compelling portrait of a family experiencing the privations of war...a humane and memorable detective' --Sunday Times

'The Bordeaux books teem with believable characters, evoked as vividly as if they were people he's known all his life' --The Herald

'The characters in the book...are a fascinating mix...Massie's greatest achievement lies in giving the reader some idea of what it must have been like to live in a defeated and occupied France, where it was almost impossible to know whom to trust' --Country Life

We asked the shortlisted authors about being shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize, here's what Allan Massie said...

What do you think about being shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction?  Do you see yourself as a historical novelist?
Well, of course I’m delighted, and agreeably surprised, to be short-listed. Germany had not won the Battle of France in 1940. So, yes, I can’t be other than a historical novelist.

How did the people and times you write about in this novel first lodge in your imagination?
I set out to write a crime novel. Jean Lannes, my policeman, came limping towards me, leaning on his blackthorn stick. So he was a veteran of the First War. Then I gave him a family which, in 1940-45, means anxiety, distress. He is a man who dislikes politics, distrusts politicians and is caught up inescapably in  the politics of Vichy and the Occupation. I gave him a first case, and everything in  the four novels follows from the moment he enters a house which “has seen much wickedness”.

What role does research have in your writing?  When does the fiction take over from the facts?

The essential research is done long before you start writing, often indeed before you have a novel in mind. The Historian G M Young said you should read until you hear the people talking. Vichy France and its moral dilemmas have fascinated me for more than fifty years. I wrote a Vichy novel, “A Question of Loyalties”(1989) and thought I was done with the subject. I found I wasn’t and worked on a non-fiction book, “The Spectre of Vichy”, which I couldn’t get right and set aside. So when I wanted to write a crime novel, I put my hero in Bordeaux in 1940 ; and it became four novels. With “End Games” I hope I’ve finished with Vichy, if not perhaps with Lannes.

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