I am thrilled to welcome Jocelyn Green to the blog today. First, I love her books. Second, she is so sweet and friendly. When I met her at CFRR last year, not only did she take the time to talk to me about her books, and life in general, she also took the time to praise and recommend the author next to her. She just really made an impression on me personally, and when an author does that, well, they are automatically put on my favorites list 🙂
About the Book
Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?
Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.
This is a poignant story rich in history, detail, hardships, overcoming circumstances, and knowing who to trust (besides the Lord, and including the Lord). It’s early in the year, so for me to say this is the best book of the year does not do it enough justice. But it is. Which is too bad for all the other books I am going to read this year, because this is going to be tough to beat.
First, I need to touch on the details. Jocelyn Green is a wealth of knowledge, and luckily for us shares so much of this knowledge with us in this book. The attention to detail she puts in every sentence is outstanding. You can see and feel your surroundings in historic France. You can hear the war in the background in historic Pennsylvania. You can place yourself amongst historic figures like Alexander Hamilton; you can experience what life was like as a lacemaker in a time and place where that was not acceptable; and you can see what it means to leave everything you know and go out into a new world. You should also prepare yourself to learn something new, because you will. Even fiction novels can provide information to what happened in the past. Yes, some of it is dramatized, but it was evident how much time and research that Jocelyn Green put into this book to bring the time period and characters to life.
And bring them to life she did. Vivienne and Liam are wonderfully charming, stubborn, fearless, and brave. You can’t help but cheer them on, both separately and together. I would have loved to bake with Vivienne and hear stories about France, or join Liam in meetings to see his passion for doing what is right. You learn so much about them over the course of the book that you feel like their friend. Their family. In fact, I was so sad to see the book end, because I didn’t want their story to end. But, the great thing is that I still have them with me in this book. I can open the pages and revisit them whenever I want. And trust me, I will!
I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author
Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage.
The honors her books have received include the Christy Award in historical fiction, and gold medals from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.
Complex and nuanced characters, rich historical detail and twisting plots make her novels immersive experiences. Her fiction has been praised by Historical Novel Society, Romantic Times, Library Journal, historians specializing in her novels’ time periods, as well as popular and acclaimed authors Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Jody Hedlund, Sarah Sundin, Joanne Bischof, Julie Lessman, and more.
Jocelyn loves Broadway musicals, the color red, Toblerone chocolate bars, Mexican food, and well-done documentaries. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two children, and two cats she should have named Catticus Finch and Purrman Meowville.
Interview with Jocelyn
Hello Jocelyn and welcome to A Baker’s Perspective! We want to know, what drew you to tell this particular story?
When I first read a mention somewhere about French Asylum, the refuge built for MarieAntoinette in the wilderness of Pennsylvania during the French Revolution, I couldn’t tell if it was fact or fiction. So I immediately turned to Google and verified through several sources that it was real. Though Marie-Antoinette did not escape the guillotine, the refuge was still used by those who longed for their queen and her son, Louis-Charles. Once I started reading about the men and women who found refuge in Asylum, I was hooked. The settlement only lasted about a decade, but its history is fascinating and worth telling through the eyes of my heroine, Vivienne Rivard, a former lacemaker for the French court.
Trust me when I say we are so happy you looked into that! What is the theme of A Refuge Assured?
The primary theme is that of finding refuge in the Lord, when no physical place of safety seems to exist. But a secondary theme popped up through a character I didn’t plan on creating: Armand, the father from whom Vivienne has been estranged her entire life. The two flee France together, and through their relationship, a picture of reconciliation emerged. At one point Armand says to Vivienne, “One is never too old for a father’s love.” None of us are ever too old— or “too far gone”—for our heavenly Father’s love, either. And that is the greatest reconciliation story of all time.
I love that! And it really does shine throughout the whole story! What kind of research did you do for this book?
I devoured every book and digital resource I could find first, plus documentaries on the French Revolution, Marie-Antoinette specifically, and the Whiskey Rebellion. I did not go see Hamilton on Broadway, but I did read Ron Chernow’s amazing book about Alexander Hamilton, since the Treasury Secretary plays a significant role in my novel. I also took my family on a spring break/ research trip out to Pennsylvania. My favorite research spot in Philadelphia was City Tavern, an eighteenth-century-style restaurant that was a frequent haunt of our founding fathers. I created a fictional tavern in Philadelphia for my characters, so eating at City Tavern and getting a tour into every corner was a special treat. From Philadelphia, we drove to the site of French Asylum, or Asylum. As always, on-site research is the most fun!
I agree. I think I need to take a “research trip”! What was your favorite part of the process of writing this book?
Aside from lunching at City Tavern, one of my favorite aspects has been learning how to bake baguettes and scones from the City Tavern cookbook as part of my research. The other favorite part was developing secondary characters that are just as vibrant as the hero and heroine. This cast of characters was a joy to bring together.
And they were a joy to read about! You have shared that your heroine, Vivienne Rivard, is related to the heroine in Laura Frantz’s new novel, The Lacemaker (Revell, Jan. 2018). What is their connection?
Yes! Laura’s story is set in colonial Williamsburg on the eve of the American Revolution. A Refuge Assured starts in Paris during the French Revolution and quickly moves to Philadelphia in 1794. The connection between the lacemakers was easy to imagine, because lacemaking is typically a tradition passed down from one generation of women to the next. Laura and I had a great time creating a family tree with roots in France, and determining where the branches reached to England before spanning the ocean to America. Our heroines don’t interact with each other in either book, but eagle-eyed readers will catch the mention of a great-grandmother they shared in each one.
Thank you for visiting us today and sharing a little bit more about this extraordinary story!