Champagne and Beer
Both my novels are set in 1944 during World War II, the first in Normandy, France(French Kiss) and the second in my home country - New Zealand(Kiwi Kiss).
I wrote French Kiss before traveling to France, so was very pleased, when hubby and I took a coach tour of Normandy in 2007, to find the landscape, dwellings etc. very much as I’d described them – thanks to library books and internet research. Phew, that was a relief!
Spring. Ooh la la, Paris – it really is as magnificent and as beautiful as I’d imagined. At our very first evening meal I tasted genuine Crème Brûlée, yum! Cruising along the Seine river, which flows serenely through the city, my eyes and ears were agog at the magical sights and sounds of Parisians at play in the balmy evening air. We were herded back onto the bus for a tour - the wide tree-lined streets, squares and gorgeous buildings of the ‘new’ part, then a “Quick, look left” instruction from our tour leader to catch a glimpse of the dimly-lit, narrow, preserved cobbled street of the ‘old’ city.
There are many fountains – they ‘spring’ up almost in every square - and bridges span the Seine at very short intervals – a city perfectly designed for romantic strolls hand-in-hand.
The Normandy(Normandie)countryside is picturesque and peaceful, and the chateaus breathtaking. How I would have loved to spend more time at the elegant 16th century Chateau Chenonceau, built over the Cher river, with two gardens – one for the wife and one for the mistress! It’s hard to believe the excess of aristocratic wealth and extravagance in centuries past, until you visit these treasures.
My imagination ran wild at Mont St. Michel – a dark, brooding former abbey and prison built on a high rock on a tidal estuary. “Don’t be late back to the coach,” the tour leader warned, “Or you’ll have to swim.” I later wrote a spooky short story set there.
Last, but not least, French food is to die for! I’ll never forget the Parisian Onion soup – thick and aromatic, topped with a generous layer of melted cheese dripping down the sides of the huge bowl…mmm!
Au Revoir, France, and back home to New Zealand, the setting for my second World War II novel Kiwi Kiss.
|New Plymouth, New Zealand|
|Nelson, New Zealand|
But New Zealand in 1944 was a very different place. Cut-off from the rest of the world by distance, its population was raw and naïve, champagne was ‘foreign muck’ and beer the working man’s tipple. The American warships, docked in Auckland and Wellington, brought glamour and excitement from the outside world. The Marines had seemingly unlimited access to supplies of war-rationed goods, such as stockings and chocolate. This, naturally enough, made them very popular with the young women. The local men, however, apparently became quite jealous and this caused some scuffles!
New Zealand, today, is no longer the isolated, insular place it once was. In fact, we consider ourselves now to be truly ‘global citizens’.
Please visit my website http://www.cherieleclare.com/ to read excerpts and reviews of French Kiss and Kiwi Kiss. Here's a blurb from "Kiwi Kiss":
Nineteen-year-old Ruby Miller knows pain and loss. After catching her fiancé in the arms of another, the last thing she wants is to fall in love again, but handsome American sailor Mac Mackenzie is hard to resist. Mac, too, preparing to leave the South Pacific haven to battle against the Japanese, strives to avoid any emotional entanglement, but since he met Ruby, he's rethinking his decision.
They both know what they want, but when tragedy draws them closer, how long can they hold out against what they both need?