Synopsis of the Brushstrokes trilogy
Brushstrokes is an historical fiction novel based in France in 1868 about the celebrated portrait artist and teacher Charles Carolus-Duran. It describes the artistic social scene in Paris during the Second Empire and his close friendship with Edouard Manet and several other prominent artists, writers and composers.
On July 19, 1870 war is declared with Prussia and the effects are felt by all the main characters in the book. Napoleon III heads his army to fight the Prussians leaving Eugenie as Regent of France. Charles turns down an offer by Whistler to evacuate Marie to England in favour of moving her to Lille to be close to his parents and sister in Belgium, unknowingly putting her in great danger as the Prussian army enters France via Belgium and establishes an internment camp in Lille. Charles remains in Paris and continues working until the Siege of Paris forces everything to a halt. Many French artists flee to London and across Europe to avoid the war. Charles is central in a plot to protect the works of art in Paris and he, Edouard Manet, Gustav Courbet and Claude Monet devise a plan to ensure the safety of Paris’s art treasures. This finally leads to Charles joining the National Guard to protect the Louvre from the Communards who are bent on destroying centuries of art treasure.
is the final book in the Brushstrokes Trilogy following the story of celebrated French portrait artist Carolus Duran and highlights the life of his daughter.
As Marie-Ann embarks on one of the greatest adventures of her life to-date, she must navigate the social norms and rules of late-18th century Europe, dodging etiquette and risking her safety — and her family — to live the life of adventure that all Croizettes are drawn to.
Embedded in the history of the time and loosely based on the lives of Marie-Ann and her actor husband Georges Feydeau, this is a tale of love, loss, espionage... and women thriving in adversity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a child I was an avid reader consuming all Enid Blyton’s books and the Pullein-Thompson sisters and read anything to do with horses and dogs. I adored Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Champion the Wonder Horse, My Friend Flicka and Follyfoot on TV. I went to boarding school at 11 and my love for historical fiction was fostered there by Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy and Georgette Heyer. There is no better relaxation than becoming engrossed in a good book. During that time you are ensconced in somebody else’s world and you can depart your own humdrum busy life. One of my English teachers complimented my story writing and said I was a born storyteller and should consider writing as a career. Being a practical Yorkshire girl I did not think my parents would relish this idea as it fell within the remit of being an artist, actor, musician or singer and rarely pays the bills.
Life puts so many barriers in the way of achieving goals that this ambition was to remain unfulfilled for a very long time. I may also confess at this point that Art was my worst subject as I could not even draw a stick man. I developed one very useful skill of being able to completely shut out lessons in subjects I disliked and daydreamed instead. I had a vivid imagination and would concoct stories with me as the heroine weaved around life immersed in Yorkshire with countless horses and dogs and …… then eventually men.
In September 2016 aged 62 I enrolled on a Creative Writing course at my local college determined to see what I could do. I was finally retired and home alone after 40 years of rearing two children, two ex-husbands and owning several dogs and horses. We were given homework and had to read out our efforts in front of the class. I struggled with this concept at first but realised that if I wanted to be a writer then I had to risk the criticism I may encounter along the way in order to tell my story. One of the homework sessions had been to research the background of a favourite painting. I had bought a large print of Carolus-Duran’s painting of ‘Mademoiselle Croizette on horseback’ simply because it appealed to me as a beautiful painting of a horse and a girl riding side saddle. I started my intensive research and was immediately hooked by his life story. There were enough facts here for me to weave a story and bring it to life.
In June 2017 I attended a short course at Manchester Writing School on Historical Fiction run by Dr Livvy Michael. After hearing I had written over 100,000 words in 12 weeks she encouraged me to carry on. All my plot, ideas and dialogue come to me as a screenplay prior to falling asleep or waking early. I did no huge planning I wrote sections out of timeline and then filled in the gaps. By Christmas Brushstrokes Book 1 was complete and Book 2 was half way to completion.
In May 2018 after Rachel Gregory had edited Book 1 I took the momentous decision to become a ‘debut indie author and publisher’. I don’t have the time to find an agent and publisher or take the rejection; I just need to get on with it! My reading friends just kept asking for ‘more’ when I sent them extracts so they have been my market researchers. I hope there will be more readers out there that like my work so I can continue.
"I paint what I see not what others like to see"