The official blog of Historical Fiction author, Mary Anne Yarde, and home to The Coffee Pot Book Club. Come and join Mary Anne on the hunt for everything historical, as well as mythological. Oh, and let's not forget the odd book or two! Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy...
Sent away from their families for their
own protection when they were very young, Azemar and Azalaïs become separated
when they are forced to flee from the band of outlaws who served as their
supposed protectors. Armed only with scraps of memories and the wits and
intelligence that have helped them survive brutal conditions, they struggle to
find each other again and discover the mysterious past that links them across
distance and time. Who are they? And do they hold the secret of the legendary
Cathar treasure? All they know is that knights and monks spell danger, and they
must find a way to survive at all costs if they are to fulfill their
destiny—and preserve their vanishing culture.
Blog Tour, we will be giving away one copy of Listen to the Wind by Susanne
Dunlap! Enter, HERE!
• Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 28th.
You must be 18 or older to enter.
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Susanne Dunlap is the
author of six works of historical fiction. Two are for adults (Emilie’s Voice
and Liszt’s Kiss, both published by Touchstone books of Simon & Schuster).
Four are for young adults (The Musician’s Daughter, Anastasia’s Secret, In the
Shadow of the Lamp, and The Academie, published by Bloomsbury). A graduate of
Smith College with a PhD in Music History from Yale University, Susanne grew up
in Buffalo, New York and has lived in London, Brooklyn and Northampton, MA. She
now lives in Northampton with her long-time partner, Charles, has two grown
daughters, three granddaughters, a grandson, a stepson and a stepdaughter, four
step-grandsons and one step-granddaughter—that’s a total of four children and
spare time she cycles in the beautiful Pioneer Valley.
How Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points
By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
south, over the Austrian border into northern Italy. You start to run through
your rudimentary Italian, and as you cross the Reschen Pass—still a German
name—you encounter the first pizzeria on the side of the road and think, “Yeah,
baby! We’re in Italy!”
Other than the little bit of Italian signage, not much has
changed, yet. It still looks like Tyrol: mountains, fields, a bubbling creek,
the alpine architecture. Right next to the pizzeria is aSpeckandÄpfelstand.Because you’ve been in Austria for
at least a day, you already know that these are the signs for that incredible
smoked bacon and those delicious apples used in the last guesthouse’sStrudel.
At first, you might consider that some Tyroleans migrated over the
border, maintained their “brand” and wrote their signs in German. Except,
that’s not it. The first town you encounter, Reschen also has another name:
Rescia. Graun—the sign indicates—is also called Curon Venosta. The valley
itself is both called Obervinschgau and Val Venosta. And then, coming over a
small hill, you gasp. Where once there was fertile farmland, now a beautiful
4-mile-long reservoir, nestled in the Alpine peaks, stretches to the southern
horizon. You slow down because something else has caught your attention and everyone
on the road is pulling off to the right. You follow them because you can’t
believe what you’re looking at. About 200 yards from the eastern shore, and
rising out of the water, is a medieval church tower, fully intact. And you ask,
“What the hell happened?”
Step into the time machine, dear reader. Let’s go back to just
before the outbreak of World War 1 and illustrate the situation: the
Austro-Hungarian Empire had its reach into a good part of today’s northern
Italy, all the way to the Po Valley and Trentino. A good majority of that land
also belonged to the autonomous province of Tyrol, who had earned its hard-won
freedom after the Napoleonic Wars. However, in Italy, a large group of
disgruntled nationalists held to the belief that the lands to the Brenner
Frontier (if you Google this, look just south of Innsbruck) were traditionally
Italian. Of course they should have been—that line of mountains was a wonderful
natural barrier against potential enemies to the north.
The thing is, Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had little
conflict with one another. And in the Tyrolean province, Italian migrants were
generally welcomed with open arms. They worked there, lived there, filled in
the jobs that needed filling, especially in agricultural labour. All in all,
these two cultures worked pretty well together, as well as with the Slavs to
the east among a handful of other “regulars”.
So, what happened? It’s called the Treaty of London. Signed in
1915, the Triple Entente promised huge swaths of land to these Italian
nationalists if Italy took up arms against its neighbours and Germany. And
there you go. Now imagine Giuseppe and his family work on your Tyrolean farm.
He’s called to service. He has to cross the line to the south, pick up his
weapon, turn around and face his employer in a war wherenot one single Italian unit ever
crossed into Tyrol. Not one.The
battles were all fought south of the line.
Enter the good ol’ U-S-of-A. And the end of the war, President
Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, specifically 9-11:
“XI. Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro should
be evacuated; occupied territories restored; Serbia accorded free and secure
access to the sea; and the relations of the several Balkan states to one
another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of
allegiance and nationality...”
All very well and good, right? Noble.
Righteous. Principally sound, especially if you’re an American. All three of
these were contentious matters.
Imagine you’re Wilson and the French, the
Russians and the British pull you aside at tea and say, “Emmm, Sir? With all
due respect, we’re going to have to ignore those points in the case of Tyrol,
south of the Brenner Frontier” as well as the Balkans—like Trieste, for
example—because there was…well…a secret treaty.
Wilson was not prepared to budge on this,
so Italy’s prime minister, Vittorio Orlando, arrived with his delegation and
debated how the Brenner Frontier was absolutely Italian. He rolled out some
maps and pointed out that this was naturally true. The rivers, look! They
flowed from the south to the north.
Nobody checked to see whether they really
did. And they didn’t. The Italians had fudged the maps.
Very simply put, Wilson was in a pickle. Italy
was granted the new frontier and the Tyroleans were faced with a cultural
pogrom not unlike Stalin’s over Ukraine: the German language and culture were
systematically eradicated between 1918 and into World War 2, with Hitler and
Mussolini even creating a pact and demanding the Tyroleans choose either to be
Italian or German citizens. Those who voted German, were relocated to new
territories within the Third Reich. Those who chose Italian, were threatened
with relocation to the colonies in Abyssinia. Either way, they were about to
all be displaced. If World War 2 had not broken out, who knows how things would
have turned out? But when Hitler marched onto Poland, the whole program came to
But what of this church tower? What happened at
this lake on the Reschen Pass?
The Austro-Hungarian Empire had laws in place,
which dictated that no man-made structure could be built if it affected over a
certain percentage of the locals’ livelihoods. Those laws protected the
Obervinschgau Valley from a proposal to raise the lakes of Reschen and Graun by
five meters for the purposes of producing electricity. The plan was reneged.
Dead in the water, so to speak, before it could find its legs because it would
have affected too much of the fertile farmland in the valley.
But Italy suffered in World War I. They had
barely managed to hang onto their britches and one of the first things that
occurred was a very strong force that swore that would never happen again.
Enter stage right: Benito Mussolini. Italy was in chaos, and after wresting
control from the monarchy he laid out a plan to make Italy the strongest
industrial nation in Europe. The race with America began.
In order to build machines and technology, you
need power. You need electricity. And the new territory of the Alto Adige /
Südtirol, or South Tyrol, had a treasure trove of areas for reservoirs and
dams. But how do you get around those old laws?
Very simply. You write new ones.
The Reschensee / Lago di Rescia is just one of
perhaps a thousand stories about the misdeeds enacted against the
German-speaking Tyroleans but the way this particular reservoir was built reads
like a thriller. Corruption, greed, and prejudice were the key cornerstones in
making this beautiful reservoir possible. Beneath the surface, lie seven
villages, wholly and completely destroyed and a history of families who were
ripped from their homes.
Have you ever heard of this? I hadn’t. My history
lessons in school taught me only how important Wilson’s Fourteen Points were to
bringing stability to Europe after WW1. We were taught how noble, how
righteous, how just they were. Yet, “Wilson himself would later admit that
he conceded the territory based on ‘insufficient study’ and that he came
to regret this ‘ignorant’ decision.” (Scott A. Berg,Wilson)
Discovering the plight of the Tyroleans to the
south of the Brenner really got under my skin. The more I dug into the history,
the more I could understand why there is—to this day—a film of discontent, of
bitterness that lies just beneath the surface, still hot to the touch. Tyrol
regained its autonomy in an agreement negotiated between Austria and Italy in
1946. Its last measures took effect in this century.
Isn’t it interesting how, when you dig beneath
the surface, you uncover the reality and complexity involved in political
relationships? Isn’t it interesting how, when you look beneath the surface, you
can begin to calculate the differences between intentions and actions? For the
purposes of diplomacy, they often lead to inactions.
The Reschen Valley:
Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set
By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
She wants her home. He wants control. The Fascists want both.
1920. Former Austrian Tyrol.
When Katharina Thaler, a young Tyrolean farmer, finds a wounded Italian engineer in the mountains of the Reschen Valley, her decision to save his life thrusts both of them into a labyrinth of corruption, prejudice and greed.
Angelo Grimani, a civil engineer, knows the details of a project that may destroy Katharina’s valley. Not in favour of it himself, he returns home to fend off the forces that envision the biggest reservoir in Italy, headed by Angelo’s own father.
As the Tyroleans gear themselves to fight for their land, the Fascist party gathers power and momentum. Katharina and Angelo must each decide what to protect: love or country?
Dive in and discover the gripping saga based on a history you never knew. This box set contains the first three of six books: No Man’s Land: Part 1, The Breach: Part 2, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: The Prequeland bonus material including, From Jutta’s Kitchen:12 South Tyrolean Recipes to bring the Reschen Valley series closer to home.
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction now. She has been a managing editor for a publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has won several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamed she would when she was a child.