They say “if you can't find the novel you would like to read, write it yourself.” Which is why I have written a novel based on my family history research. I based my novel on the few facts I had about my Huguenot ancestors and pretty well imagined the rest. Before I started to write my book, I visited the ancestral places in France and England and saw with my own eyes the village where my people originated.
The story is the way I would like to think it happened. I feel that, in a time when there are still places in the world where a man can't follow his own conscience, it has an important message for us all. I hope others find it exciting and informative.
“What is a Huguenot?” people often ask me when I tell them about my novel. Although there are still members of this early Protestant group worshipping today, they are no longer well known. In 16th century France, Huguenot was the name given to those who came to follow the teachings of Jean Calvin. The Protestant Reformation, began by Martin Luther in Germany, spread rapidly to France. However, as it grew in that country, it abandoned the Lutheran viewpoint and took to heart the beliefs of Dr. Calvin. Primarily it rejected much of what the Catholic Church stood for.
Calvin’s major doctrine was that, even prior to birth, all men are divided between the few who are saved and the many who are damned to hellfire. Those damned are without benefit of salvation, even by faith. It is their destiny. It was a very strict philosophy and most believers in those days saw all conduct in black and white. There were no grey areas. They also believed that wealth and position in the community were proof of their being part of the Elect, the Heavenly class.
Whatever one thinks of their doctrine, we can only admire the faith and endurance they showed, when in October of 1685, after almost one hundred years of religious freedom, King Louis XIV decreed they recant their beliefs or die. Many historians have said that being in the large part, artisans, craftsmen and professional people; they were some of the brightest and best of France’s population. Countries such as Holland, England, South Africa and even the English colonies in North America welcomed them with open arms and so, at great risk to themselves and their families as well as those who helped them, they fled from their homeland. Consequently, French society suffered a substantial loss.
Centuries ago wise King Solomon stated, “man dominates man to his injury.” So much of our history proves this to be true and in many parts of the world, it is still a sad fact. One interesting historical detail is that many Catholics, not liking the decision of King Louis to eradicate these people, put their own lives on the line to help their friends get to safety.
However they managed it, my own ancestors made their way to London where they shaped admirable lives for themselves. In the novel, the hero, Pierre Garneau, tends to be typical of Huguenot philosophy in his beliefs and behavior. I am happy to say that over the period of the story, he learns moderation in his judgments and enough wisdom to realize his own shortcomings.
In the next month or two I’m publishing this novel on CreateSpace. I’ll have more to say about this experience later.