Andy Batiste, at loggerheads with his degenerate cousin, seeks to discover the truth of his family history. Why was his pregnant grandmother forced to flee to France? What really happened to her husband during the German Occupation, sixty years ago? Who accused Edmund, the elder son and Batiste heir, of being an informer? Was he really a traitor – and who murdered him?
With Edmund’s brother Harold now head of the family, enjoying the wealth which ought to have come to Andy’s father, the family is forever divided. Andy yearns to clear Edmund’s name and restore his father to his rightful inheritance.
Into the conflict comes Charlotte Townsend, newly divorced, lonely and struggling with writer’s block and the consuming threat of impending loss. She returns for healing at Guernsey’s natural health centre, La Folie, and becomes involved in Andy’s family affairs.
Together they embark on a hunt for the truth…
Initially I only thought of writing one book, ‘Dangerous Waters’, as my homage to Guernsey where I had spent many happy years. Even when I wrote the second, ‘Finding Mother’, it didn’t occur to me I was writing a series! Writers are always told to ‘write what you know’ and I knew Guernsey pretty well so it seemed the obvious starting point. It was almost incidental that I allowed characters from ‘Dangerous Waters’ to pop up in Finding Mother, but readers seemed to like that and it’s been a feature of all my books since.
Your stories have atmospheric settings and memorable characters, are they inspired by real people and places or a product of a vivid imagination?
I appreciate the compliment, Jane! The settings are mainly real, Guernsey providing its own atmosphere beautifully. I do invent the homes of my characters but base some of them on properties I know. For example, Jeanne’s and Molly’s cottages in ‘Dangerous Waters’ are quite similar to my old home in Perelle on the west coast of Guernsey. The characters are probably an unconscious mix of real people and imagined. I would never knowingly use a real person in case it wasn’t a flattering portrayal and easily recognisable!
‘The Guernsey Novels’ are a mix of contemporary and historical. Would you like to write a purely historical, mystery novel?
Interesting question. Although I do a certain amount of historical research now, I’m not sure I could cope with the full immersion in the past needed to write a purely historical novel. Perhaps something to think about for the future…☺
Your stories always have great dialogue content; do you find this easy to write? Have you any tips for writing realistic dialogue?
Writing dialogue was hard for me initially, but has become easier with each book. As a psychotherapist I was used to hearing people talk and even now enjoy ear-wigging on conversations. I think if you really listen to how people talk to each other it becomes easier to write more natural dialogue. The key is to listen to different generations – speech changes dramatically from one age group to another. For example, my own children are in their thirties and I use their choice of expressions etc for my main characters in that age group.
What genres of books do you read, when you’re not writing?
Funnily enough I really enjoy historical mysteries! My favourites are those by C J Sansom as they are so detailed and I can imagine myself at the Tudor court. I also read some crime and thriller but am not keen on anything too gory. Books which focus on relationships and family, as opposed to pure ‘romance’ are also high on my list.
Your latest release in ‘The Guernsey Novels’ series is ‘The Family Divided’. What can you tell us about it?
The Family Divided follows Andy Batiste as he searches for the truth behind the split in the family. His grandfather, Edmund, was murdered shortly before the end of the Occupation in Guernsey, after being labelled a traitor. He left a young widow who didn’t realise she was pregnant when she fled to France weeks later having been cast aside by her husband’s family. Edmund’s younger brother subsequently inherited the family estate instead of Edmund and when his son James moves to Guernsey years later, he gets nothing. Andy wants his father to receive his due inheritance and rightful place in the family.
Andy is helped in his search by Charlotte Townsend, recently divorced and enjoying her second visit to the natural health retreat at La Folie. Charlotte, a publisher and newbie writer, has been struggling with her novel and when she learns of Andy’s quest, is eager to help and together they embark on the search for the truth.
Where’s your favourite place to write? What is it about your writing space that you like?
I rarely write anywhere other than at my desk in my small study. I used to write longhand and then type it up on my PC, meaning I could write anywhere. But two years ago I had problems with my right hand and, after an operation, decided to cut down the strain by only typing.
My space is cluttered but comfortable. I have a fairly large desk and a super cream leather office chair that supports my back. Essential for any writer! The room was the single bedroom of my house and when I moved in I made it my study, including writerly things like bookshelves and filing drawers.
How much research is necessary prior to writing your stories? What does this involve?
Most research is focused on the Guernsey Occupation, which features in all my books. I was lucky enough to talk to people who lived through it and there are numerous published first-hand accounts. It’s a major influence on present-day Guernsey and Liberation Day – on 9th May – is a public holiday. I do some research for the contemporary major element of the stories but this might only involve such things as legal issues. Guernsey law is based on French law and can be quite different to English.
Have you written any other books?
No – not yet.
What’s next for Anne Allen and her writing? Will there be more Guernsey Novels?
I’ve started mapping out book 5 of The Guernsey Novels which will be a little different to the previous books. Called ‘Echoes of Time’ it’s a tale of betrayal, injustice and revenge, with a strong reference to the Occupation but set mainly in the present. There’s a slightly supernatural feel to this one and I’m looking forward to writing it. And there will be some familiar faces making an appearance ☺
Thank you for talking to us Anne. Here’s my review of The Family Divided #4 in The Guernsey Novel series.
The catalyst for this story is an incident in World War 2. A death accompanied by malicious rumour divides a family. Charlotte, who we met in ‘Guernsey Retreat’, makes a welcome return. ‘The Family Divided’ maintains the mystery and gentle romance, characteristic of this series. This story casts Charlotte in the role of detective as she unravels the secrets and rumour buried in the Batiste’s family’s past, to help and stay close to her new friend Andy Batiste.
Well paced, this story explores the growing relationship between Charlotte and Andy, and lets us glimpse the lives of previously introduced characters, Jeanne, Louise and Malcolm. I liked the disparity between Andy’s family and Charlotte’s and how it allows both characters to grow and develop. Charlotte’s investigation is believable and what she discovers builds to a tense and well resolved ending.
If you like your mystery with vivid imagery and sweet romance you will definitely enjoy The Guernsey Novels series.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Read my reviews of the first three books in The Guernsey Novel series by clicking on the links below:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars