Browsing for Books

Over ten years ago, I stumbled across Meg Bogin’s book, The Female Troubadours, in the library of University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s where I was studying for an MA in Creative Writing. I was working on my first novel at the time, based on the real woman, Almodis de La Marche, the countess of Toulouse and Barcelona. The monk chronicler, William of Malmesbury, accused Almodis of having ‘a godless female itch’ because she had a succession of three husbands and she was excommunicated by the pope. The new edition of my novel, Almodis the Peaceweaver, is published in July and I will be revealing the new cover here soon.

Browsing in the library and finding Meg Bogin’s book was important for the novel’s development. I created a female troubadour, Dia, who became a key character in Almodis the Peaceweaver. Over a decade later, another fictional female troubadour (trobairitz in Occitan), Beatriz, is the protagonist of a new series I am writing, set in the court of Philippa of Toulouse (Almodis’ granddaughter) who ruled Toulouse for a period and was married to Guillaume IX, Duke of Aquitaine, the troubadour duke. The Occitan University, an event that takes place each year in Laguepie in France where I live, have just invited me to organise an evening on the trobairitz in this year’s event in July. More on that coming soon. invited me to select my favourite books on a theme of my choice. Here is my bookshelf.

There is a serendipity and a synergy in what can be found through browsing as opposed to purposeful searching. Idiosyncratic bookshops and lovely libraries bring unexpected twists to my research and writing. Read what I have to say about the books and the places I found them.

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