Sunday, December 30, 2012

Exhibit on Mannerist Painter Rosso Fiorentino

The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City is holding an exhibit on Renaissance painter Rosso Fiorentino, one of the main characters in my novel-in-progress. Fantasy and Invention: Rosso Fiorentino and Sixteenth-Century Florentine Drawing runs through February 3, 2013, and features one of only three paintings by Rosso in the United States, his Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist (1520). Twenty drawings by other Renaissance artists, including Andrea Del Sarto, Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari, complement the painting.

Rosso is considered a leading proponent of the Mannerist movement. Born and trained in Florence, he made a name for himself in Rome before coming to France at the invitation of François I in 1530. He spent the next decade as the French King's Director of Artistic Work, overseeing the expansion and decoration of the château de Fontainebleau. The ornate Galérie François I at Fontainebleau is Rosso's best known extant work. Well-read and richly rewarded by King François, Rosso lived as a wealthy gentleman at Fontainebleau until his mysterious death in 1540 at the age of 46. The New York Times has written a review of the exhibit that includes some details about Rosso's sensational, troubled life.

I'm thrilled to see his work on exhibit here in the United States. He deserves to be better known by the general public. I've previously posted about Rosso and the galérie, his Descent from the Cross, his Pièta, and the Royal Elephant.

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge

It seems all I've done is post lists lately... I promise this will be the last one! I've decided to attempt the 2012 TBR ("To Be Read") Pile Challenge sponsored by RoofBeam Reader. To conquer the challenge, I must read twelve books I've had on my bookshelf for at least a year and write a review for each, all before December 31, 2013. These are the books I have chosen:

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett
Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler
Queen Margot by Alexandre Dumas
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
In a Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse
Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex
The Light Possessed by Alan Cheuse
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
The Girl at the Lion d'Or by Sebastian Faulks [completed 1/27/13]

Particles and Luck by Louis B. Jones
The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olov Enquist

Twelve books leaves me plenty of room for new releases, as I read nearly thirty books this past year. If I make it through these twelve, I won't feel guilty replenishing my shelves!

Have you read any of them? Where should I begin? I still need to finish Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage and Abraham Vergese's Cutting for Stone before I start another book. I'm halfway done with each of those.

There's still time to join the challenge! Find twelve unread books published before 2012 on your shelves and link to your list at RoofBeam Reader's blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best Reads of 2012

I enjoyed all of the books I read in 2012, but these seven stand out:

THE TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE (2012) by Enid Shomer
Hands down my favorite book of the  year, TWELVE ROOMS imagines an impassioned friendship between conflicted spinster Florence Nightingale and ill and unproven writer Gustave Flaubert. Both voyaged along the Nile River as tourists in 1850, though no one knows if they ever actually met. In Shomer's luscious tale, they do, and are forever changed by the experience. Polar opposites motivated by equal measures of sensitivity and ambition, Florence and Gustave find in their relationship the courage necessary to flout conventional roles and devote themselves to heroic callings. A well-paced, adventure-studded plot counterbalances finely nuanced character development and breathtaking descriptive passages.  

ACCIDENTS OF PROVIDENCE (2012) by Stacia Brown
In seventeenth-century England, a unwed glove maker's apprentice gives birth in secret. The next day, the apprentice's employer finds the dead child buried near a slaughterhouse. Did the apprentice kill the child or simply try to hide a stillbirth? The law of the day does not distinguish between the two acts. With seasoned manipulation of chronology and point-of-view, this relatively short novel recounts the apprentice's trial, imprisonment and miraculous fate, as well as the love affair that sets everything in motion. A masterful debut, gripping in both plot and voice.

Many thanks to Sarah Blakewell for curing me of my aversion to one of the sixteenth century's most revered authors, Michel de Montaigne. Her delightful book, a thoroughly engaging mixture of biography, social history and philosophy, makes Montaigne and his era come alive like no other. Each of the book's twenty chapters confronts the central question that preoccupied Montaigne--how does one live?--by mining his life and Essays for answers: "Pay attention," "Use little tricks," "Question everything." The Sunday Times describes the book as "Superbly conceived and exquisitely written...enormously absorbing," and I couldn't agree more. As Blakewell makes abundantly clear, Montaigne's insights are as relevant today as they were five hundred years ago. Highly recommended for readers curious about the era, the man or human nature itself.

CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA (2009) by Ildefonso Falcones
A sweeping historical novel of fourteenth-century Barcelona in the tradition of Ken Follett and Alexandre Dumas. Arnau Estanyol, son of a fugitive serf, carves a new life for himself as a stoneworker in the free city of Barcelona. His ascent of the city's social ladder parallels the soaring construction of the cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar, to which he contributes labor, lucre, and love. Revenge for past offenses spurs his success, and his passion for a forbidden woman, the daughter of a Jewish friend, pits him against his beloved adopted brother, a priest of the Inquisition. A very satisfying read that in many ways offers a blueprint for successful historical fiction.

CASCADE (2012) by Maryanne O'Hara
As the fictional town of Cascade, Massachusetts, fights to escape inundation upon the construction of a regional reservoir in 1935, artist and new wife Desdemona Hart struggles to separate duty from desire, disregard from destiny. This luminous first novel, which I reviewed in detail here, explores the theme of drowning, on both the literal and figurative levels, as artist and town fight to preserve their integrity against the onslaught of circumstance. An author to watch, O'Hara writes with the discerning eye and soulful heart of a painter.

SHADOW ON THE CROWN (2013) by Patricia Bracewell
Coming from Viking/Penguin in February 2013, SHADOW ON THE CROWN is the first in a trilogy on Emma of Normandy, whose marriage to an English king in A.D. 1002 set in motion a series of events that would lead to the Norman Conquest of 1066. I will be reviewing Bracewell's novel in detail in January, but as I read an advanced copy in 2012, felt I should include it here. Bracewell does a magnificent job of recreating the early medieval world and breathing life into the events recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Her feisty, clever Emma captures the reader's heart, and the echoes of MacBeth that color the plot make this a suspenseful and highly enjoyable read.

BLUE ASYLUM (2012) by Kathy Hepinstall
A lyrical exploration of love and madness set at a secluded insane asylum during the Civil War. Iris Dunleavy, a plantation wife committed for willful behavior, falls in love with Ambrose Weller, a traumatized soldier given to fits that can only be calmed by focusing on the color blue. Far from mad, cunning Iris yearns for freedom and plots her escape...but dare she take broken Ambrose with her? Stunning language and quirky characters make this novel, alternately harsh and dreamy, linger in memory long after the cover closes.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Each of Us is Bethlehem"


Simon de Chalons (1506-1568)
Adoration des bergers (1548)
Il n'est maintenance difficile à  trouver, car l'on a veu son estoille en Orient, qui tire chascun à le servir et adorer. Assez y a qui savent bien qu'il est né en Bethleen (qui est maison de pain et de réfection) et l'enseignent à ceux qui le demandent, mais n'y vont portant l'adorer. Chascun de nous est Bethleen, car par foy est en nos coeurs le doux Jhesus, qui nous repaist sans desfaillance: "Dominus pascit me et nihil midi deherit, etc." Car il nous a mis en plaine pasture de grace exuberante, de laquelle nul est excluz.

"He is now not difficult to find, for we have seen his star in the East, which draws each one of us to serve and adore him. There are plenty who know well that he was born in Bethlehem (that house of bread and renewal) and teach it to those who ask, yet never go there to worship him. Each of us is Bethlehem, for in our hearts, through faith, is sweet Jesus, who feeds us our fill without fail: "The Lord shepherds me; there is nothing I lack, etc." For he has put us in an open field of exuberant grace, from which no one is excluded."

Guillaume Briçonnet (1472-1534)
Bishop of Meaux, spiritual advisor to Marguerite de Navarre
Letter to Marguerite de Navarre
26 September 1524

May you have a happy and blessed day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Angels We Have Heard on High...

Agnolo Bronzino,  Adoration of the Shepherds (detail), 1539-40

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winner of the Historical Holiday Blog Hop Prize

And the winner of C.W. Gortner's THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI is......


Congratulations to our winner and thanks to everyone who visited Writing the Renaissance during
 the Historical Holiday Blog Hop.

Happy Holidays!

Come back soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Year in Books

Last year, someone asked me how many books I typically read in a year and I realized I didn't know. So this year, I decided to keep a list of all the novels and nonfiction books I read for enjoyment. Here is the complete list:
  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  2. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  3. Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Elinor Pruitt Stewart
  4. The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton
  5. The Flower Reader by Elizabeth Loupas
  6. The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot
  7. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  8. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  9. Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones
  10. The Odds by Stewart O'Nan
  11. Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara
  12. How to Live, or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
  13. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
  14. North River by Pete Hamill
  15. 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans by Karl Pillemer, Ph.D.
  16. The Passion of Artemesia by SusanVreeland
  17. The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life by Dinty W. Moore
  18. The Expats by Chris Pavone
  19. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  20. The Second Empress by Michelle Moran
  21. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall
  22. Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
  23. Shadow on the Crown by Patricia Bracewell
  24. Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat
  25. The Twelve Rooms of the Nile by Enid Shomer
  26. Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown 
  27. Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham [currently reading]
  28. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese [currently reading]
  29. The Malice of Fortune by Michael Ennis [currently reading]
A respectable number of books, considering this list doesn't take into account all the research reading I did for my work in progress. (I will probably only manage to finish one of the last four on the list before the calendar turns, but as they are all hefty books that I've nearly completed, I wanted to account for the time spent reading them.) All in all, a book every two weeks. My English teachers would be proud.

How did I choose the books I read? Several factors guided my choices.
  • Last Christmas, I received a Kindle and loaded it up with free classics. Six of the books on the list (Wilde, Stewart, Wharton, Cather, Chopin, and Maugham) were books I'd been meaning to read for years and finally did, in the electronic version.
  • Six other books were written by author friends. These books I read and reviewed here on the blog (Loupas, Perinot, O'Hara, Moran, Bracewell [review coming in January], and Perrat). I'm very grateful to these friends for sending me copies of their wonderful novels and allowing me to help spread the word about them.
  • Other books were penned by authors who are clients of my agent, Stephanie Cabot, or other agents at The Gernert Company (O'Hara, Jordan, Pavone, O'Nan). Another (Falcones) was recommended to me by Stephanie. It is always very useful and inspiring (and not a little humbling) to see what gorgeous works the agency represents and sells to publishers.
  • Several books I found at random on the new book shelf at the library (Gottshcall, Pillemer, Moore, Hepinstall). I love discovering an unexpected gem!
  • Others books I picked up because of a review I'd read on the internet (Shomer, Ennis, Verghese, Brown, Bakewell). There are several bloggers and reviewers whose judgment I trust and I hasten to read the books they recommend.
  • One book I read because I enjoyed listening to the author speak at the 2011 Historical Novel Society Conference (Vreeland).
  • Two others books on the list were works by favorite authors of mine (Hamill and Zafon). I always look forward to reading new work by favorite authors, or working my way through their previously published corpus.
Now, you might ask, which books stood out as my favorite reads from among these twenty-seven? That, friends, will be a post for later in the week, after I draw a winner for the Historical Holiday Blog Hop giveaway!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Historical Holiday Blog Hop Giveway!

Welcome to the First Annual Historical Holiday Blog Hop hosted by Passages to the Past! I have a new, hardback copy of C.W. Gortner's THE CONFESSIONS OF CATHERINE DE MEDICI to offer one lucky winner here at Writing the Renaissance. I reviewed THE CONFESSIONS back when it was released in 2010 and can assure you it would make a fine gift for that lover of historical fiction on your list. Or keep it yourself and read it curled up in front of a crackling fire with a warm cup of cocoa!

To enter the random drawing, please leave a comment below with your email contact information. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 pm ET on December 17. Winner will be posted sometime December 18. Open to continental US entrants only.

But don't stop here! Dozens of other bloggers are participating in this hop, each hosting a giveaway at her site. Go the Passages to the Past for the complete list and get busy hopping!

While you're at it, be sure to leave a comment at Passages to the Past to enter the drawing for one of four grand prize packages. Your favorite historical fiction authors have donated books, many of them signed:

1. Oleanna by Julie Rose (pb)
2. The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell (pb)
3. Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell (Audio Books)
4. The King's Daughter by Barbara Kyle (pb)
5. The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien (pb)
6. Royal Romances: Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe by Leslie Carroll (pb)
7. The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell (pb)
8. The September Queen by Gillian Bagwell (pb)
9. The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick (pb) *w/signed bookplate
10. The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick (pb) *w/signed bookplate
11. Sea Witch by Helen Hollick (pb) *w/signed bookplate
12. Claude & Camille by Stephanie Cowell (pb)
13. Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell (pb)
14. The Queen's Vow by Christopher Gortner (pb, UK edition)
15. Into the Path of Gods (Book 1, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (pb)
16. In the Shadow of Dragons (Book 2, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (pb)
17. The Anvil Stone (Book 3, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (hc)
18. A Land Beyond Ravens (Book 4, Macsen's Treasure Series) by Kathleen Cunningham Guler (hc) 
19. Pale Rose of England by Sandra Worth (pb)
20. The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth (pb)
21. A Dance of Manners (A Regency Anthology) by Susan Flanders, Cynthia Breeding, Kristi Ahlers, Gerri Bowen and Erin Hatton (pb)
22. The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose (hc)
23. The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan (pb)  
24.  Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (signed pb)
25.  The Master of Verona by David Blixt (hc)
26. Before Versailles by Karleen Koen (pb)
27. Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones (pb)
28. At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Barnhill (pb)
29. What You Long For by Anne Barnhill (pb)
30. Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara (signed hc)
31. The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift (pb, UK edition)
32. The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman (signed pb)
33. The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd (pb, with Tower of London Tea Sachets) 
34. The Mischief of the Mistletoe (2 copies - 1 pb, 1 hc - both signed)
35. The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot
36. The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton (pb w/bookmark)
37. The King's Grace by Anne Easter Smith (pb)
38. Illuminations by Mary Sharratt (hc)
39. Selene of Alexandria by Faith L. Justice (2 copies - 1 pb, 1 eBook)
40. A Thing Done by Tinney Sue Heath (2 copies, pb)
41. Rebel Puritan by Jo Ann Butler (pb)
42. The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen (audio cd's)
43. By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (2 copies, pb)
44. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (ARC, courtesy of Penguin Publishing)
45. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (ARC, courtesy of Penguin Publishing)
46. The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (ARC, courtesy of Penguin Publishing)
47. Movement of Stars by Amy Brill (ARC, courtesy of Penguin Publishing)
48. Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri (ARC, courtesy of Penguin Publishing)
49. The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry (hc)
50. The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase (pb)
51. Three Maids for a Crown by Ella March Chase (pb) 
52. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn (pb) 
53. The Forgotten Queen by D.L. Bogdan (ARC)
54. The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White
55. A Place Beyond Courage by Elizabeth Chadwick (pb)
56. The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau (signed pb)

57. Second Lisa by Veronica Knox 

Complete contest rules are available at Passages to the Past. Many thanks to the amazing Amy Bruno for organizing the hop.

Thanks for visiting Writing the Renaissance. I hope you'll stay and look around a bit now, or come back soon for a longer visit. Happy reading!

Fête des Lumières Videos

Here are links to videos of the 2012 Fête des lumières in Lyon. The video of the Saint Jean cathedral is a must-see. Be sure to watch it full screen!

Videos courtesy of

Friday, December 7, 2012

Review: SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS by Liza Perrat

As villagers drag a frantic mother to the river to "float" her for witchcraft, she yanks her talisman, a carved bone angel pendant, from her neck and presses it into her daughter's hand. "Wear it always," she tells Victoire. "It will give you strength, and courage."

Victoire Charpentier, heroine of Liza Perrat's debut novel SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS (Triskele Books 2012), has need of both, and in great quantities. Set during the height of the French Revolution, Victoire's story is one of survival: of poverty, of loss, of depression, imprisonment, and political upheaval. It is the story of a woman who, plagued by melancholy and accused of a crime she cannot remember, escapes from a hellish prison with a new identity and a renewed purpose: to wreak revenge on the nobles that stole her father and her virginity, forced her to abandon her child, and changed the very fabric of her life. It is ultimately a story of vindication, of healing and of new beginnings, a testimony to the ties of blood and the power of words.

SPIRIT's plot moves at a pace that at times leaves the reader breathless. So many misfortunes befall Victoire that one wonders how a woman prone to melancholy could possibly withstand them. Yet weather them she does, with a resourcefulness that never seems forced. Perrat brings an inventive freshness to Victoire's plight and ultimate redemption. A prison friendship with Jeanne de Valois, the notorious con woman behind the infamous Affair of the Necklace that brought down Marie Antoinette, sets Victoire on a new path in life, providing her the resources to live as a single woman in Paris and an entry into the world of the theater and the salon. A literate and skilled storyteller, Victoire writes plays that further the ideals of the Revolution, satires that expose the cruelty and shallowness of the nobility; she translates the feminist tracts of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and pens similar pleas of her own. Words become the weapons of her revenge; she uses them both to lay her ghosts to rest and to open the path to a better future for women of the lower stations.

But in the end, it is her roots that Victoire returns, to her village in the Lyonnais, to the family that remains and the inn waiting to be reopened. To the questions that linger, the events she can't remember, the witness who, at long last, eases her guilt. To the future, born of a painful past without which it never would have taken flight. True to her name, Victoire triumphs over adversity, passing on the legacy of strength and courage she received from her mother.

SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS is itself a triumph for the author, a vivid and evocative first novel that convincingly recreates the tumultuous world of eighteenth century France. Strong writing, unexpected plot twists and a heroine who never surrenders to the seductive tug of oblivion kept this reader turning pages until the story's satisfying end.


Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.

Since she completed a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.

SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS, published  in May 2012 under the Triskele Books label, is the first in a historical series set against a backdrop of rural France. Her agent is currently trying to sell the second in the series, WOLFSANGEL, and Liza is working on the third story, ANGEL OF ROSES, set in the 14th century plague years of France.

For more information on Liza or her books, please refer to her website or blog.

Liza provided a guest post, published earlier this week, on Lyon's Fête des Lumières.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lyon's Fête des Lumières: The Black Death Illuminated, by Liza Perrat

Lyon, France is a city dear to my heart, the setting of my first novel. Each December, Lyon stages a spectacular Festival of Lights that draws visitors from all over France and Europe. This year, the festival runs from December 6th-9th. Here to tell us about the festival and its history is historical fiction author Liza Perrat, who lives in a small town on the outskirts of Lyon and whose novel, SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELSI will be reviewing at the end of the week.

The Black Death Illuminated

by Liza Perrat

"Protect us from famine, war and plague, Seigneur," cried the Lyonnaise people in 1628. Alas, their pleas came too late--the bubonic plague had already crossed the Rhône River, terrifying the inhabitants and killing half of them.

The desperate people prayed to the Virgin Mary to return good health to the city until miraculously, in 1643, the plague disappeared and the Lyonnaise people never doubted their divine protection. So, how did this episode of divine intervention become the largest modern-day international light festival?

Well, it all began on December 8, 1852, with the inauguration of a statue of the Virgin Mary, erected on Fourvière hill next to the site of the present-day Basilica. The Lyonnaise people showed their gratitude to Mary by lighting candles on their windowsills, the gesture proving more and more popular as the years passed.

Over a century later, in the 1980s, in conjunction with the advent of the lighting plan, the city of Lyon decided to transform the December 8 festival into the Fête des Lumières (light festival). On the eve of the winter solstice, in a magnificent urban ritual, the city's public places would be illuminated in a different way each year.

Residents, associations, cultural groups, humanitarian associations and the local government work with artists, musical and theatrical performers, photographers and lighting engineers to provide the colored symphony of light that bathes the city in today's celebration of light.

The festival, which attracts over four million visitors to Lyon, includes other light-based activities and lasts four days, with the main events occurring on the 8th. The focal points are generally the Fourvière Basilica, Saint Jean Cathedral, and the Place des Terreaux, where music, dancing, parades and food stalls transform the old district of Lyon into a place flooded with light, beauty and sound.

photo credit: mondoramas

I began attending the festival back in 2002. Crossing the Saône River, my first glimpse of the illuminations was the Fourvière Basilica, overlooking the city on Fourvière hill. Symbolic of the people's devotion to the Virgin Mary, the basilica was constructed between 1872 and 1884. Its oriental and neo-classic columns and columned porticos, blended with mediaeval-style machicolated towers, were lit in spectacularly fluorescent shades of green, blue and violet.

On Place des Terreaux, the ancient stones faded beneath a cinematic screen of stars and moons. Colored lights and shapes danced on the stages of renaissance architecture, and, as a bloodied revolutionary soldier crept across the starry sky, I lost all sense of dimension.

"December 8 has always been a show of thousands of people strolling together on a winter night in a city transformed simply by their presence," said one of the artistic directors. "This moving public is at the heart of the festival, just as it is at the heart of urbanity, each person being a vector of light within the nocturnal landscape."

Since its origin in the nineteenth century, December 8 has taken on an undeniably futuristic allure. But despite the magnificent illuminations, it seems that for the Lyonnaise people, the soul of the light festival remains within the beauty of thousands of tiny candle flames burning in unison along their windowsills. As people come from all over the world to share the rejoicing and emotion of these four breathtaking nights, the Lyonnaise people, lovers of tradition, continue, to pay homage to the Virgin Mary for banishing the Black Death from their midst.

For more information and stunning photos, please refer to the festival's official website.


Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years. When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator.

Since she completed a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine and France Today.

She has completed four novels and one short-story collection, and is represented by Judith Murdoch of the Judith Murdoch Literary Agency.

SPIRIT OF LOST ANGELS, published  in May 2012 under the Triskele Books label, is the first in a historical series set against a backdrop of rural France. Her agent is currently trying to sell the second in the series, WOLFSANGEL, and Liza is working on the third story, ANGEL OF ROSES, set in the 14th century plague years of France.

For more information on Liza or her books, please refer to her website or blog.