Blois, 1705. The chateau of Duc Hugo d’Amboise simmers with rivalry and intrigue.
Henriette d’Augustin, one of five mistresses of the duc, lives at the chateau with her daughter. When the duc’s wife, Duchesse Charlotte, maliciously undermines a new mistress, Letitia, Henriette is forced to choose between position and morality. She fights to maintain her status whilst targeted by the Duchesse who will do anything to harm her enemies.
The arrival of charismatic tarot reader, Romain de Villiers, further escalates tensions as rivals in domestic politics and love strive for supremacy.
In a society where status is a matter of life and death, Henriette must stay true to herself, her daughter, and her heart, all the while hiding a painful secret of her own.
Author Interview – Kate Murdoch – The Orange Grove
What inspired you to write ‘The Orange Grove’?
Since my teens I’ve loved everything about French culture—I’ve studied the language and travelled to France numerous times. So, the idea of writing a French book felt like a natural step. I’m also fascinated by the period of Louis XIV’s rule, the extreme decadence of life at court and for nobles in general before the Revolution. This made researching the book a joy because I discovered many details about how people lived, their outlooks, and what their motivations were at different levels of society.
When you begin a new story, what is the first thing you develop; characters, plot or setting? Why is this?
The setting, because I can’t have an understanding of what might happen in the story and who my characters might be if I don’t know the context of their immediate environment and the historical background.
What is the unique selling point of your story? What do you hope will make it stand out in the historical fiction genre?
A lot of historical fiction focuses on a key event and/or a particular historical figure. In The Orange Grove, I was interested in exploring how a fixation on status and position, prevalent in France in the early 18th century, might have impacted peoples’ behaviour and their relationships. How self-preservation can erode integrity and morality.
Do you find it easy or difficult to write dialogue? How do you make historical dialogue sound natural and believable?
I find it relatively easy once I work out who my characters are. It’s one of my techniques for understanding my characters—I figure out who they are as I write dialogue and watch them speak to one another. Perhaps that’s why I write a lot of dialogue! I would say I’m the most immersed in the act of writing during these ‘conversations.’
What is the best thing about being a writer? Are there any negatives?
The sense of community and understanding shared with other writers. I really enjoy the friendships and connections I’ve made since becoming a writer. I also feel so much joy when a reader understands and enjoys my words, is immersed in my stories. That’s very satisfying. A negative would be being so consumed that it’s sometimes hard to find a balance with other aspects of my life.
Do you enjoy reading? What are you reading at the moment?
I adore reading. At the moment I’m devouring The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt alongside research books for a new project.
What are you currently writing?
I’m writing a dual-timeline story set in World War Two Croatia and 1960’s Melbourne, through the perspectives of three generations of women.
Kate Murdoch is the author of Stone Circle. She exhibited widely as a painter both in Australia and internationally before turning her hand to writing.
Her short-form fiction has been published in various literary journals in Australia, UK, US and Canada.
Stone Circle is a historical fantasy novel set in Renaissance Italy. It was released by Fireship Press, December 1st 2017. Stone Circle was a First in Category winner in the Chaucer Awards 2018 for pre-1750’s historical fiction.
Kate was awarded a KSP Fellowship at the KSP Writers’ Centre in 2019 to develop her third novel,
Her novel, The Orange Grove, about the passions and intrigues of court mistresses in 18th century France, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2019.