Linda Posson is an unabashed Francophile, travel and short story writer, and author of The Moon is Square, a novel set in twentieth century France. Her travel articles have appeared in France Today and Window on France–The insider’s View of French Country life, a quarterly newsletter she published while owner of Provence West Ltd, one of the first home rental agencies for vacation properties in France.
Why the interest in France?
My love affair with France began one summer long age when I travelled solo throughout Europe. Of the dozen or so countries I visited, it was France that captured my heart. Years later, when my husband and I rented our first gîte in the Burgundy hills, my affection for this country the size of Texas only intensified. Gazing at vineyards through the window of a drop-dead charming cottage while basking in the embrace of a tiny village changed my entire outlook on life, travel, and human relations.
What is so intriguing about Jean Moulin the subject of The Moon is Square?
Quite by accident during a property search for my vacation rental company, I stumbled upon his deserted farmhouse outside a village near Saint-Rémy. At the time I had no idea who this man was or why a historic route bearing his name meanders through the heart of Provence. I also wondered why locals were hesitant to talk about their village hero. Very few volunteered information about him, but those who did gave me reason to dig deeper into his story. I came away from that trip knowing that someone, perhaps a man in his own network, had betrayed him to Klaus Barbie, Chief of the Gestapo. The more I learned about him from French friends and numerous biographies (most written in French), the more I became convinced that I had to tell his story.
My research led me through a maze of books, articles, personalities and places to sort out the details of his betrayal. Along the way I learned that a man who values his country above all will go to any length to preserve it and that selfish people, hiding behind the guise of patriotism, will go to any length to advance their own interests, no matter the consequences for their country or those standing in their way.
Why a novel instead of a biography?
The fictional format presented the most intriguing possibilities, because I could mingle real and imaginary characters. And, let’s face it–an American female protagonist would broaden my American readership of a book about a complicated but fascinating page in French history.
What I didn’t expect to learn from writing the novel.
As I edited and revised The Moon is Square I found disturbing parallels between Moulin’s story and the political dramas unfolding in the US and abroad. History does indeed repeat itself. We now wrestle with the threat of populist nationalism not unlike that which plagued Europe before and during World War II. Motivations for what people do to crush others have not changed. Lies are told again and again. People act to further their own agenda no matter the consequences for those standing in their way.
That said, I hope that readers of The Moon is Square will come away from the novel with an appreciation for what true patriots are willing to endure to preserve their homeland. It’s a complicated story, but I’ve infused the historical plot with vignettes from day-to-day life in a French village where secrets are held–secrets that could prompt a novel’s characters to take unexpected journeys to discover romance, surprise, and even laughter in an otherwise difficult narrative.