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My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the early years of the 20th century. The turbulence of the period between 1913 and 1919 made for a vibrant background: the suffragette movement, the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Russian Revolution, not to mention the Great War.

Inevitably the war had the greatest impact on families like that of my narrator, Charlie Knott, but I did not want to turn my novel into a war story. Reports of events in northern France come only from newspaper reports or more graphically from letters from Charlie’s son Alfred.

As Charlie has left Hyde for work by the docks at the eastern end of the Manchester Ship Canal, the town of Hyde is less of a feature than in the previous books. However, perhaps I should have made at least a brief mention of the sacrifice Hydonian men and women made at that time. 710 men of Hyde who gave their lives are commemorated at the cenotaph on Werneth Low, a windblown hill overlooking the town and the great pattern of distant boroughs. It is one of my favourite places in the world.

  • Writer's pictureBrent

French Markets

With a view to selling copies of An English Impressionist in the part of France in which it is set, my wife and I spent a week in the Dordogne with our camping table and chairs on a series of  markets. I had contacted the mayor’s office in each of the four towns I identified as having a large resident British community, was granted permission to set up a stall and spent a morning at each in turn: Issigeac (Sunday), Bergerac (Wednesday), Eymet (Thursday) and Riberac (Friday).

It was an interesting experience setting up and seeing other market traders at close quarters. I found myself next to a range of marchands, selling baskets and belts, plants and potatoes, wine and jewelry and e-cigarettes. We also found ourselves in the middle of a heatwave and the most important thing became keeping in the shade. The majority of customers were French, of course: many stopped to ask about the book but none could face 400 pages of English! My target audience was English-reading locals and holiday-makers; strangely enough my very first sale was to a Belgian lady. I also sold copies to Dutch and Australian readers.

So, hot, hard work with a succession of early morning rises, but I feel that with a total of 27 copies sold, it was worth the effort. Best market for sales: Issigeac. Worst: Bergerac with no books sold at all  – we had a poor pitch and there were few Brits around. I now wait with interest from reactions to the book from my latest batch of readers.


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My aim in writing “Cheshire Cheese and Camembert” was to take some of the younger characters who appeared in “Blessèd are the Meek and “Twenty-six Nil” and place them in a more modern setting, ie. the

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