Released in mid-September, Jules Larimore’s novel The Muse of Freedom is her first published novel, although she has been writing nonfiction for over 15 years. Because of her background with its links to the Huguenots and the Bondurant family, Larimore began to explore her story over 20 years ago and this novel is only the first installment. Its lush language and rich setting carries readers to a little-known time-period and area of France—the 17th Century Cévennes mountains of Languedoc.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Jules and I met at a Historical Novel Society conference. Our shared fascination with France’s medieval and Renaissance past and our desire to write about it drew us together initially. Since then, we have become friends. Among other activities, we are now part of an author’s collaborative group on Facebook, France’s Splendid Centuries, for all five of us share a fascination with France’s past and writing about it.
The Muse of Freedom
The Muse of Freedom begins in 1695, in the mysterious Cévennes mountains of Languedoc, France. As a child, Jehan BonDurant, a young nobleman, was taken by force and held in a Dominican prieuré. When he comes of age, he inherits only a near-derelict estate and his Huguenot family’s dangerous legacy of secrets. While he cherishes his newfound freedom apprenticing as an apothecary, his outrage mounts over the religious persecutions led by King Louis XIV’s Intendant Basville, who enforces the King’s will of “One King, One Law, One Faith.”
This draconian policy harshly enforced has led to bitter divisions among families and fearful mistrust among friends. As Jehan gradually uncovers the secrets shrouding his past, they lead him to question his spiritual choices. A journey, deep into the heart of the Cévennes in search of guidance, unfolds in a way he least expects. When he enters the enchanting Gorges du Tarn, he discovers his muse, Amelia Auvrey. This mystic, holy woman slowly reveals ancient mysteries and healing practices to him that change his way of understanding the world around him.
A Journey toward Freedom
Together they undertake a journey to minister to the hunted Huguenots, injured in the king’s violent persecutions. But there are spies among the Blessed who report their activities to the Intendant, and the King’s dragoons set out to track them down. To stay free, they must make a harrowing choice: either to live in hiding in a remote wilderness, to join an incipient uprising against the persecutions, or to flee their cherished homeland as refugees in search of hope.
The true story of Jean Pierre Bondurant inspired Larimore to write this vividly told family saga and coming-of-age adventure blended with Cévenole magic lore. All of us who have faced dilemmas with life-altering choices and no good solutions will share Jean Bondurant’s suffering with him.