Chichester-based novelist Kate Mosse is once again one of the stars at the Festival of Chichester – a festival she has been closely involved with from its inception.
Kate chaired the public meeting in the autumn of 2012 which asked whether anyone wanted a festival at all. After an emphatic yes, Kate and her family have contributed every year since.
“I’ve been cheering on the Festival of Chichester since its earliest days and am thrilled at how it’s grown and grown. The people of Chichester have taken it to their hearts, loving the combination of national and international stars of music, theatre and writing and celebration of incredible local talent.”
This year, Kate joins the Talks at Six element of the festival, on Saturday, June 30 from 6-7pm, Jubilee Hall, New Park Centre, Chichester – a chance for anyone who missed out on the Waterstones launch for her new book The Burning Chambers in May. The Waterstones event sold out within hours of going on sale – and set the tone for the book’s massive success so far.
Kate says she is still amazed by the response to The Burning Chambers, the first of a quartet of novels spanning 300 years of history and travelling from Languedoc, south-west France, to the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
“‘Having not published a big historical novel for some six years, it’s been wonderful attending events all over the UK and Ireland to discover that readers are just as interested, if not more so, in my stories.
“It’s the first time ever in my career that I’ve had a hardback novel sit at the top of the bestseller charts for three weeks – though Labyrinth was at the top of the paperback chart for five months and was the highest-selling book in the UK in 2006! This is a reflection, perhaps, of how readers want long, good, old-fashioned stories inspired by history: love and betrayal, secrets and displacement, the terror of war and having to make a new home in a distant part of the world, these are perennial human stories.”
It’s essentially a Romeo and Juliet story, two families, one catholic, one Huguenot and 300 years of history, a Diaspora story.
Nineteen-year-old Minou Joubert receives an anonymous letter at her father’s bookshop. Sealed with a distinctive family crest, it contains just five words: “She knows that you live.” But before Minou can decipher the mysterious message, a chance encounter with a young Huguenot convert, Piet Reydon, changes the course of her life forever. For Piet has a dangerous mission of his own, and he will need Minou’s help if he is to get out of La Cité alive.
“It starts in 1562 in Carcassonne and Toulouse and it ends in Franschhoek in 1862. It starts on the eve of the Wars of Religion in France, and it is about a 300-year-feud between these two families. It is about inheritance. it is about religion and faith, and it is about betrayal. It is about the whole of the Wars of Religion, about what a civil war is like and about the lives and loves and losses of these two families.
“I know how it starts, and I know where I am heading. I know the key places and obviously the key pieces of European history, but everything about the historical fiction I write is about the stories of the ordinary people, not the kings and queens. It is about what happens to them when people in courts thousands of miles away make decisions that destroy their lives.”
Book one is set in Carcassonne, Toulouse and Puivert; book two is sent in Paris, London and Amsterdam; book three is partly set on the seas, but also partly set in the New World (Virginia, America) and partly in the Holy Roman Empire: book four will be set in Franschhoek, South Africa.
Admission free, with donations to the Parkinson’s Society.