My new novel: Loving Le Corbusier


I’m thrilled to announce the release of my novel, Loving Le Corbusier.

Loving Le Corbusier

Yvonne in the late 1920s

Yvonne in the late 1920s

The novel is a fictionalized account of the life of Yvonne Gallis, the woman from Monaco who became the wife of the architect Le Corbusier. It’s a love story but an unusual one, and peopled by many of the greatest creative minds of the twentieth century, people like Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger. While it’s the story of an ordinary woman, naturally it gives an insight into the life of the dynamic man she fell in love with –  Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, who called himself Le Corbusier.

 

It was impossible not to tell the story of France, too, in the tumultuous years after the devastating Great War, as Paris blossomed in the Art Deco years and accepted the social changes of the 1930s, which was then all thrown into chaos by the sudden shock of the German Occupation in 1940.

Researching the novel meant reading almost everything I could lay my hands on about the work of the architect, as well as his personal correspondence (which meant I really had to brush up my French). I also talked to many Le Corbusier specialists, and visited his buildings across France. But my focus was always on Yvonne. She intrigued me. Most books on Le Corbusier (and there are many) mention her fleetingly – a model from Monaco, that kind of thing – but occasionally there were clues to another person, the one who drank too much, who flared easily. That was what pricked my interest. She intrigued me. Such a happy soul – at first, anyway. I wondered who she was and what sort of woman had ended up living with a man who was famously tricky and controlling and who seemed to want to cover the world in concrete tower blocks. It meant that I had to travel not only to their home in Paris, which is open to the public and run by the Fondation Le Corbusier, but also to the other places that Yvonne stayed, places like Vézelay in the Burgundy region, or the holiday cabin they had on the French Riviera, and even the bleak little hamlet in the Pyrenees where they sat out several months of the Second World War. You won’t be surprised to learn that this was no hardship. Every step was a joy, but to travel around my favourite country and look at it through the eyes of history, and the eyes of Yvonne specifically was pure magic.

I remember a moment in Paris. I’d enjoyed lunch in the simple restaurant on Rue Saint-Benoît on the Left Bank where Yvonne and her husband had often eaten (and where I imagined they had their first dinner together). The place seemed unchanged since the early decades of the 20th century.

the Petit Saint Benoit restaurant

Petit Saint Benoit

I had then sauntered down Rue Jacob, past number 20 where they had lived for the first years of their relationship during the 1920s and early 1930s, and then I sat for a while in the leafy green shade of the Vert-Galant, the park at the prow of the Ȋle de la Cité. My thoughts were tumbling all over the place, as I realised what a task I had in front of me. I wanted to make sure that I got it right. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of writing a rose-tinted version of life in Paris in the first decades of the twentieth century but to find out what it was actually like. And I wanted to understand the hardship and joy of living with a man who was determined to change the world. I knew I had so much research to do, not only about Yvonne but also about normal French life through those decades. It seemed like a momentous task.

the Vert-Galant

the Vert-Galant

And that’s when I turned and noticed the name of the barge tied up at the quay behind me: Yvonne. Instantly, I knew it would be all right. I know it was magical thinking but it felt as though I had Yvonne’s blessing, or at least her encouragement.

Portrait of Yvonne by her husband (collection Fondation Le Corbusier)

Portrait of Yvonne by her husband (collection Fondation Le Corbusier)

And that’s why, when I had finished the novel and had it edited and prepared for release, I made sure to thank Yvonne. Because for the past three years she has opened my eyes to France in a way I had never experienced before.

I hope you enjoy it. Loving Le Corbusier is available from Amazon Kindle, iBooks and all the other usual ebook retailers. I’d love to hear what you think. A review on whichever site you bought it through would also make a huge difference to its promotion.

Loving Le Corbusier

Now excuse me while I go and run around the room one more time…

 

Categories: Architecture, WritingTags: , , , , , , ,

20 comments

  1. Reblogged this on silver painted river and commented:
    This looks like an amazing new book about the wife of one of the most famous architects of the twentieth century.

  2. Many congratulations! It sounds like a fascinating book and I can’t wait to read it.

  3. Congratulations!
    It sounds like not only a wonderful book, but a wonderful journey you have been on too.
    And a story that has never been told before …
    I will buy it immediately.
    What a brilliant achievement, Colin.
    Can’t wait to dive into it!

  4. Congratulations Colin on the publication of your new novel. I know that you have carried out a lot of ‘on the ground’ research that you thoroughly enjoyed doing. Well done on taking a different angle on Le Corbusier by writing about his wife. You must feel elated now that is finally published. Best wishes.

    • Thanks, Mike. It certainly was a very different process from my previous novel but thoroughly enjoyable. I hope readers take away from it an interest in Le Corbusier and modern architecture, or in French history, or simply an understanding of the ‘lot’ of the wife taking second place to creativity.

  5. Sounds tremendous. How amazing it must feel to have finished such a big project. And reading about your memories of Paris is reminding me of my own recent trip there. It’s got me in the mood to find out more. Can’t wait to read it!

  6. Fantastic – have downloaded it immediately and can’t wait to read it. This is a spectacularly enrolling piece about your book. And I do love a bit of magical thinking. Well, a lot, actually. Many, many congratulations! Beautiful cover by the way.

  7. So cool!! Congratulations 🙂

  8. Wonderful story. I love how you were inspired by Yvonne’s presence in Paris through the mystical boat. Congratulations on getting it published, a huge achievement! Looking forward to reading it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

viewer site

Barbara Heath & Malcolm Enright - our viewer site blog

Museum Travelers

Cultural Travel, Exhibitions & Museum Musings

kirilson photography

the stories behind the pictures, and vice versa

Anthony Hillin

Training, Facilitation and Policy development

My Mazamet

Life at № 42

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.

MOVIE-WARDEN

Motion-picture News & Reviews

SAVING OUR TREES - Marrickville municipality

Community Tree Watch - working to protect healthy public trees in Marrickville municipality from inappropriate removal

MOVIE MUSIC UK

Film Score Reviews by Jonathan Broxton since 1997

A life in books

Book news, reviews and recommendations

150 great things about the Underground

An unofficial birthday salute to a public transport titan

Man Genius of OZ Lit. Reviews

Not here to make friends

A new life in Lille

Tales of a Brit who moved to Hauts-de-France

Mistakes & Adventures

What I've always wanted

eme de moca

Architecture, experiences, design, moca...

Expedictionary

Literary Geography

UNSW Built Environment's Blog

Information from students and staff at Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia.

joe moran's words

on the everyday, the banal and other important matters

The Back Road Chronicles

Curious soul...and it makes me wanna take the back roads!

Fool for France

Or fool in France? Depends on the day...

Wee Notions

Notes on a napkin

ABOUT SOMETHING AROUND

There is no time to be bored in a world as beautiful as this.

artdecocollector.wordpress.com/

Philip Butler Photography: Documenting Great Britain's surviving art deco & early modernist architecture

The Secret Bookseller

The Secret Bookseller is a blog written by an Independent Bookshop Manager about running a bookshop, publishing, customers and bookselling

agentofstyle

Lifestyle

Rebecca Renner

Journalist | Essayist | Fiction Writer

DynamicStasis

DynamicStasis is basically an attempt to think about and discuss integrity, beauty, and delight - in architecture and elsewhere.

Heritage Calling

A Historic England Blog

A Sense of Place

Ronnie Hughes

Jerry Coleby-Williams

Sustainable Gardening in our Continually Surprising Climate

Mathieu Proctor

Urban Planning + Design

The Earful Tower

Paris and France by Oliver Gee

The Australian Interestingness

Aesthetics and cultural trends in late modernity

Savidge Reads

The Chronicles of a Book Addict

Barnabas Calder

Raw Concrete: the Beauty of Brutalism

%d bloggers like this: