Friday, February 16, 2018

Guest Post: Where the Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Please join me in welcoming Laura Madeleine to Let Them Read Books! I'm thrilled to have Laura here today celebrating the hardcover release of Where the Wild Cherries Grow with a guest post about her inspiration for this novel of war, romance, and good food! Read on and enter to win a copy!

"I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . ."

In 1919, the cold sweep of the Norfolk fens only holds for Emeline Vane memories of her family, all killed in the war. Whispers in the village say she’s lost her mind as well as her family - and in a moment's madness she boards a train to France and runs from it all.

She keeps running until she reaches a tiny fishing village so far from home it might as well be the end of the world. Transfixed by the endless Mediterranean, Emeline is taken in by Maman and her nineteen-year-old son, and there she is offered a glimpse of a life so different to the one she used to know: golden-green olive oil drizzled over roasted tomatoes, mouth-wateringly smoky red spices, and hot, caramel sweetness.

But it's not just the intense, rich flavours that draw her to the village, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. One that is threatened by the whispers from home that blow in on the winds from the mountains . . .

How I Began to Write Where the Wild Cherries Grow
by Laura Madeleine

The decision to set Where the Wild Cherries Grow in French Catalonia came one day when I was idly looking over a map of France. After scanning the entire French-Italian region, I looked down towards the Pyrénées-Orientales and the French-Spanish border; an area I knew next to nothing about. There, I saw a tiny town. Cerbère.

The name immediately caught my attention, conjuring images of Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to the underworld in Greek mythology. As it turns out, the two names aren’t really related, but I loved the idea of a place that was also a concept, a physical destination and a gateway to another life.

The more I researched Cerbère, the more fascinated I became, and I knew I had to visit. But it was winter – the middle of January – and so I took off to a cottage in the wilds of Pembrokeshire, where I went for long, freezing walks over the moors and tried to imagine Emeline’s life in February 1919, on the wide, desolate marshes of East Anglia.

The fact that 2014 had marked the centenary of the start of World War 1 brought that period of history into sharper relief for me. Not the stiff-upper-lip, Rule Britannia of it all, or even necessarily the horror of the trenches. Rather, it made me think about the battles fought emotionally and internally by the people left behind, in parlours, kitchens and bedrooms all across Europe.

The character of Bill was a different story. From the moment I put pen to paper to write the first 1969 chapter, he burst into being and legged it off into the book. The fact he arrived so fully formed is because – essentially – he is my father. My dad was also a working class lad who struggled to find his place, before eventually setting off on his own, big adventure…

Finally, as March turned to April, I was able to make the research trip to Cerbère. I took my mum with me (she speaks fluent French) and together we journeyed to the very edge of France. Like Bill and Emeline, we went by train: from London to Paris, and then an overnight sleeper from the Gare d’Austerlitz – where my character Guillaume, from The Confectioner’s Tale worked – all the way south.

It wasn’t at all glamorous, but it was wonderfully exciting. Paris was grey and cold when we left, still in the grip of winter, but when I woke up at dawn and looked out of the train window, I saw the Pyrénées-Orientales rising in the distance, the sun hitting their peaks. Wild irises grew along the tracks, terraces of vines marched down the hills and white houses glowed between cypress trees: it felt like another world.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:

Laura Madeleine is the author of The Confectioner’s Tale, Where the Wild Cherries Grow (2017 / 2018, US) and The Secrets Between Us.

After a childhood spent acting professionally and training at a theatre school, Laura Madeleine changed her mind, and went to study English Literature at Newnham College, Cambridge. She now writes fiction, as well as recipes, and was formerly the resident cake baker for Domestic Sluttery. She lives in Bristol, but can often be found visiting her family in Devon and getting up to mischief with her sister, fantasy author Lucy Hounsom. You can find her on twitter @lauramadeleine and facebook at lauramadeleineauthor.


  1. Thanks for this fascinating historical which I would enjoy. The era,setting and story sound captivating.

  2. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. The Pyrenees and surrounding area sound beautiful.

  3. I love learning about the motivation the author has to choose a specific subject. Looking forward to reading this book!


I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!