If Only It Hadn’t Rained
Imagine how it would feel to be plucked from your daily life and transported far from home and forced to work in some unknown and terrible place.
Imagine being treated with violence, never having enough to eat, living in bestial conditions, and never knowing if you would see your home again.
Imagine feeling so completely powerless.
This is what happened to young Frenchman Roland Chopard, who was arrested by the German SS during a brutal roundup in the Lot et Garonne region in May 1944, just before D-Day. This was the start of a period of forced labour during which he was moved to different places, including Dachau, BMW’s Eisenach factory and ultimately Buchenwald.
Roland survived. Many did not. After his return home in 1945, Roland wrote a compelling account of his experiences. It lay, unread, in the family house in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, until it was found by his son Alex some years after Roland’s death in 2006.
This book is based on Roland’s memoir, the family’s own papers, interviews with his daughter Annie, and the memories of others whose relatives were caught in the same roundup as Roland. It is a personal story set in a particular time, nothing more but nothing less.
The Hazelnut Grove
The Hazelnut Grove explores the joys and demands of daring to live in search of a dream. For Sarah and Luke, this meant trading the comfort of a two-bedroom English cottage for a derelict house in northwest Italy.
Their chosen life is part fairy tale, part a storages of courage and self-reliance as their new neighbour, nicknamed Il Cattivo, the Nasty One, decides to make war over the desolate hazelnut grove, a two metre strip of land behind their house.
As events unfold, a picture emerges of not only how the Italian life tested Sarah, but also how she discovered in herself both a grand obstinacy and a respect of the materials and objects of that life.
Set in Piedmont, renowned for its wine and food, this is a story of abundance and thriving despite a menacing neighbour, the deaths of beloved animals and the loneliness of getting to grips with an unfamiliar language and culture.