WW2 and French romance - Ripon author’s inspiration from the past

By Graham Chalmers

Thursday, 20th August 2015, 5:36 pm
Ripon author Maggie Cobbett.
Ripon author Maggie Cobbett.

A Ripon author is launching her new book this weekend.

Maggie Cobbett’s collections of short stories, particularly those dealing with crime, have found favourable reviews. The core of her new book (and first novel), which traces the life of a French village over different time periods, is partly based on Maggie’s own first visit to France as a teenager. A flashback takes us to the villagers’ very mixed wartime experiences, still casting a dark shadow over the community.

And Shadows of the Past does sound a cracker. Listen to this. . .

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

‘Not far from Paris lies the village of Saint-Andre-la-Foret where three English schoolgirls disappear without trace during the summer of 1965. Twenty years later, a stranded traveller stumbles across a skeleton in the nearby forest. The secrets she uncovers, some dating back to the darkest days of World War Two, put her own life in danger…’

The novel is available in print and digital form from Amazon and Maggie says that the framed black and white photograph on the front cover of Shadows of the Past is actually one from her time across the Channel.

“The setting, although fictionalised, is one into which I found myself catapulted as a very naïve 17-year-old looking to improve my French. The descriptions of the spartan conditions at the ‘international work camp’, the sinister boss and his dubious associates are more or less as it was. Fortunately, an innocent holiday romance made up for the bad things that happened. I was never able to forget those weeks, so I went back eventually and did a lot of digging into the history of the area, especially the years of the German occupation.”

A member of Ripon Writers’ Group, Maggie has won many writing competitions, including twice winning a free place at the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick.

Maggie said: “After I left France, I never lost touch completely with the young man seen with me in the photograph. Unfortunately he died a couple of years ago, but he’d helped me with my research and was amused to be cast as the saviour of the young woman around whose uncertain fate much of the story revolves.”

More information at www.maggiecobbett.co.uk