Liza Perrat is Australian, and has been living in France for the past twenty years. Spirit of Lost Angels, published by Triskele Books is the first in a historical series, set against a backdrop of rural France.
Historical fiction has never been my favourite genre. However, when I do choose to read a historical story, I prefer to read about 'ordinary' people, I'm not a fan of stories about royalty and the nobility.
Spirit of Lost Angels concentrates solely on everyday working people in 18th century rural France. The heroine of the tale; Victoire Charpentier despises the nobility, so she and I have something in common from the start!
Victoire's life begins with tragedy and bad luck and heartache follow her as she matures. Her childhood home is destroyed by fire, taking the lives of her younger siblings, her travelling Father is trampled to death by a noble-man's coach and horses and her grieving mother is executed for witchcraft.
Left orphaned and penniless, Victoire goes to Paris to work in a grand household. Whilst there, she is taken advantage of and her hatred of the nobility is intensified.
Returning to her childhood village would seem like the answer to Victoire's troubles, but again tragedy follows her and she sinks further and further into the depths of depression and madness.
As the river Vionne flows through the French countryside, it flows through this story too - playing an integral part of Victoire's life. From exciting playground, to the execution of her Mother, to final redemption, the river is there in the forefront of the story.
Victoire remains a determined and strong character throughout the story, despite hitting the lowest level possible at time.
Liza Perrat brings to life the sights and sounds of 18th century France. Her extensive research shines through in her writing, from the superstitions of the villagers to the lives of the more sophisticated Parisians.
There were times when I struggled a little with some of the language, but the novel is so expertly crafted with some excellent dialogue that explains the politics of this era in French history that this was easily overcome. For someone who had very little previous knowledge of these times, I found it easy to follow and to understand, this is down to the wonderfully accessible style of writing - informative, but not patronising.
There is no doubt that Liza Perrat is an incredibly skilled author and has produced a heroine who is realistic, unpredictable, at times flawed but brilliantly drawn. Historical fiction fans will enjoy this story, as will those, like me, who usually shy away from this genre.
Liza Perrat has a website and blog here. She is also on Twitter, and has a Facebook page.