Thursday 5 June 2014

D Day from the Other Side

The Normandy Diary of Marie-Louise Osmont 1940-1944

Ships and still more ships - the sea made grey with this immense Armada. Thirty-one thousand Allied airmen over northern France in one day, alone. As Churchill said: An invasion far larger than has been seen so far in the world. And, the next day: ‘All still goes well on the coast of Normandy…’

You might feel uneasy at the mild frivolity of that last statement - for we know now this was not the case in those early days. And what of the ordinary people living there beneath the shelling, beneath the fire in Caen, in Bayeux, in Falaise?

Some ten years ago I chanced upon The Normandy Diary of Marie-Louise Osmont 1940-1944 in a second-hand book shop. From her first entry in the summer of 1940 after the Fall of France - stating with simplicity that German soldiers were occupying her small Normandy chateau, bringing in with them their rough boots and penchant for singing - to the last terrified accounts of the devastation of Caen in 1944, I was completely enthralled.

Madame Osmont was an ordinary woman living through the day to day terror and long uncertain years of occupation – and her story stayed with me; it haunted me. As the first booms of the mighty British naval guns thundered in over the Bay of Seine and the multitude of parachutists came raining  down, she witnessed the Allied invasion as it unfolded incredibly and devastatingly around her. But how was she to know, as we do today with the luxury of hindsight, what on earth the outcome would be. Her story intrigued me. I wanted to somehow relay her experience, try to do it justice.

And this is how the idea for my novel The September Garden was born. 

No comments: