Citadel by Kate Mosse – review

The story of resistance fighters in Carcasonne is characteristically interwoven with that of a fourth-century monk bearing a Gnostic text and lashings of berets and bicycles

If you choose this as your holiday reading, make sure you're having more than a long weekend away. The final volume of Kate Mosse's Languedoc Trilogy is nigh on 1,000 pages long, a suitably millennial length for her trademark long view of French history. The focus is the second world war, but the story of resistance fighters in Carcasonne is characteristically interwoven with that of a fourth-century monk bearing a Gnostic text, while the wizard-like figure of Audric Baillard links all three volumes. Mosse plunges into the dark and bloody years of Vichy France, subjecting her largely female cast to terrible pain and anguish. She is impressively knowledgeable about her adopted corner of France, and you can't fault her evocation of the "Frenchness" we Anglo-Saxons love. The unwavering sincerity of tone, maintained over hundreds of pages, can occasionally start to feel like a grown-up school story, with lashings of berets and bicycles, yet it's probably this very quality that accounts for Mosse's huge commercial success.

Contributor

Jane Housham

The GuardianTramp

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