The creative duo formed by painter Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier and writer Nicole Galzin
Our interview of American novelist Jules Larimore, author of The Cévenoles Sagas, led us to the encounter with this two passionates of history, and more precisely, of French religious war, a tragic event which took place in the Cévennes under King Louis XIV.
Come along UzEssential editor and follow the making of Et elles sont parties (And they left), a poignant historical tale, on the route with a group of Huguenots fleeing persecution to Geneva.
"The journey of five young New Converts who left their native Cévennes for good
in the hope of reaching Geneva where they could once again practise their religion freely"...
(Preface by historian Henry Mouysset, President of the association Sur les pas des huguenots dans le Gard)
Nice to meet you, Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier and Nicole Galzin,
We really enjoyed reading your latest book, which to conceive one with a paintbrush, the other writing.
Can you tell us about how you met and the alchemy that enabled you to set out to tell the story of the Huguenots Camisards (1) ?
We met some forty years ago as friends, then later as colleagues and accomplices at the lycée in Alès.
On retirement, while one naturally turned to storytelling, the other chose watercolours as occupation. And the idea of creating something together came by...
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier: That's how Le chemin d'Etienne came about, given that the Régordane trail passes right under Nicole's windows in Pont-de-Rastel.
Nicole Galzin: ... and Margot and our young Huguenots naturally followed, with a story that echoed my own Huguenot roots.
Et elles sont parties... is your second book. How did it come about?
Nicole Galzin : The road and exile are themes that are dear to me.
When we heard about the Huguenots' journey to Geneva and the tragedy of three girls (who will become characters in "Et elles sont parties..."), who were imprisoned with the guide Massip at Le Pont-de-Montvert and then freed on 24 July 1702, it seemed obvious to us to imagine the continuation of these characters' adventures.
The story became fiction as we added Margot and young Pierre to the group... The fabric of our story was on track!
"The route was simplified by our guide: everything was mapped out in Jean Massip's head.
We needn't have worried about the uncertainty of the route...
However, there were plenty of dangers lurking. At any moment
we could meet people hostile to the so-called Reformed Religion"... (chapter 3)
After Sur le chemin d'Etienne, in your latest book we follow your heroes in pursuit of a better future on the road to Geneva. And so we continue on the road with you... Why show your characters on the road? Is it because you want us to feel their inner journey and the intensity of their path to freedom?
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier, Nicole Galzin: First and foremost, we want to make it clear that the group of young Huguenots did not set off for "a better future" but to flee from the danger of persecution: the women risked being locked up in the Tower of Constance, or at best in a convent, and the men sent to the galleys, like Margot's husband Samuel.
We like to see our characters set off on the road because, as you say, the journey allows us to reflect on ourselves. It's also a place where you can meet people and learn to achieve a goal, whatever it may be.
How long have you been working together? We've noticed a true complicity between your watercolours, which are so subtle, and your writings. How do you organise your work and how much time does a book like this take to achieve, between choosing the theme, the research, the layout, etc?
Nicole Auglioro-Bouvier, Nicole Galzin: We've been 'working' together for about ten years now, discussing with each other the ideas that come to us for the construction of the story, the names of the characters and their particularities, sometimes relating to experiences from our respective lives.
Nicole Galzin: "Do you mind if we call him Etienne?
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier: Yes, but only if he has red hair!"
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier, Nicole Galzin: We had a lot of fun with the first book and took our time... And when the idea of publishing came up, we obviously said yes! We can say that it took three years to concoct "Le chemin d'Etienne".
From the outset, we wanted this second book to follow in the footsteps of the first...
Nicole Galzin : I took full advantage of the confinement to make good progress with the writing, but it was a different story for my friend, who struggled at the beginning to illustrate a story for which she, a pure product of the secular school, had to undergo a transformation into a Huguenot.
For the purposes of the book, did you take the road back to Geneva to immerse yourself in the difficulties of the journey? Jules Larimore, whom you met during her research for The Muse of Freedom, felt it was important, even essential, to dive into the dark history of the Wars of Religion by travelling to the Cévennes.
Nicole Galzin: I couldn't write about a place I hadn't seen! So I set off on this journey on foot, but also by car and by train to Geneva!
The imagination of one speaks to the imagination of the other. We're on the same wavelength on a lot of subjects, we have the same sense of humour... We get on naturally. What one writes, the other spontaneously visualises in watercolour.
What are your literary projects? Are you planning another 4-handed book in the near future?
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier, Nicole Galzin: For the moment, we don't have anything concrete up in our sleeves... But our two experiences have been so enriching that we can't wait to do it again!
There is a blank page for you. Would you like to add a detail or comment?
Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier, Nicole Galzin: This whole adventure has been unexpected. What started out as a game turned into an exciting adventure for both of us. And in the end, we shared some great moments of complicity!
What's more, we've had the satisfaction of seeing our two books well received both by the literary world and by readers. It's an incentive to keep up the momentum!
Thanks to Nicole Auguglioro-Bouvier and Nicole Galzin for their collaboration on this article and to Bernard Marzac for the documentation provided.
Visit the Editions de La Fenestrelle website for Et elles sont parties... and Sur le chemin d'Etienne.
(1) The so called Camisards were members of the Huguenots (French Protestants) resistance which appeared after Louis XIV's Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, making Protestantism illegal. Camisard derives from the Occitan word Camiso (shirt) as they wore white shirts over their clothes during theirs night attacks to recognize one another.