Always the history nerd, Juliette Godot has been working on her genealogy since childhood. Though she never found any royal blood, she did find many noteworthy characters.
Juliette spent too many years expediting print jobs and collecting debts at a hardware co-op before dropping out of the daily grind and going back to school.
Upon graduation, she landed a software engineering position at Carnegie Mellon University and spent the next fifteen years battling deadlines and traffic. By then, she had over 40,000 ancestors cataloged, but she wanted to know more than just names on the family tree.
The quest to find her roots led her down the back roads of France to the unsung principality of Salm where superstitions were part of everyday life. The myths and legends of the Renaissance and the grit of the people steadfast in faith as war surrounded them enveloped Juliette. Writing about it was the only way she could get it out of her mind.
Juliette and her husband make their home in beautiful Western Pennsylvania. She still works on her genealogy. She likes to paint, ride Rails to Trails, babysit her grandchildren, and tend to her wildflower garden.
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It’s 1582, a time when books are banned, and witches live next door. Citizens of the European principality of Salm are free to pray the way they want. However, both Catholic and Protestant fanatics surrounding them believe theirs is the only truth. Everyone is a heretic to one side or the other. Martin, an accused seditionist, seeks safety in Salm, and he teaches Nicolas, the mayor’s son, to read. Though Nicolas knows Martin’s books are banned, he cannot resist them.
Catherine Cathillon and her family live in isolation as her father’s mistrust of the church prevents her from joining the community. A chance meeting with Nicolas changes everything. He reads to Catherine, and when she learns what life is like outside their farm, she begs him to teach her to read. But class differences force them to meet in secret. During the lessons, they fall in love, but their romance is exposed, and spurned lovers swear revenge.
Lovelorn vengeance is one thing, but when one of the banned books is found in Nicolas’s shop, Catherine realizes that her father was right. Their true enemy is the man charged with saving their souls, and he will stop at nothing to reinforce his position of power.
Based on real people and events, genealogist Juliette Godot draws upon her own Renaissance-era family to bring you her award-winning debut novel From the Drop of Heaven.
From the Drop of Heaven
A story of love, faith, survival, and... justice?
Book Excerpt or Article
The shouts came from the valley. Martin crept to the precipice of a hill, crawled under a pine branch, and peered down.
Claude! His favorite professor from the University of Geneva stood shackled between an executioner and his assistants while a cleric shouted the verdict, “Sedition.”
A chaplain shouted scripture above the fracas while an ornately robed judge astride a white horse led a procession to the far end of the courtyard.
Claude struggled and screamed as guards dragged him, his heels leaving draw marks in the dirt. They bound him to a stake with piles of straw and branches at the base. A hush fell over the crowd when the chaplain repeated his prayer, and the flame was set.
With shaking hands, Martin wiped the cold sweat from his forehead. That could have been me! Weak from revulsion, he laid his head on the ground until screaming from below erupted again. He jerked up, and his heart leapt as Claude, with clothes aflame, ran through the crowd, dragging the smoldering ropes. He didn’t get far. Guards threw him to the ground to extinguish the flames consuming his clothes, carried him back to the pyre, and threw him into the blaze.
Bile rose in Martin’s throat as he scrambled from under the branch, then sat motionless, trying to catch his breath. How could the world get thrown off balance in just a month?
Thoughts took him back to his first day at the university when Claude, philosopher of the skepticism movement, held up the Bible and said, “This book has caused more death than any disease in history. Leaders have no problem sending their soldiers to fight and die, but they themselves will change sides in a heartbeat when it comes to money or power.”
As Claude’s reputation grew, so did the groundswell of opinions until, without warning, a group of Calvinist fanatics raided the school, arrested him, and burned the books in the name of God. Martin and the other students fled. The master was not so lucky.
This book has caused more death. . .
Martin’s horse flicked its tail, bringing him back to the present. His eyes focused on his satchel revealing the outline of the book, Montaigne’s Theologia Naturalis. Should he toss it under the tree? Would it make a difference? His name was on the list of heretics. If caught, he’d be a dead man either way.
Gathering his courage, Martin mounted his horse, raised the hood of his cloak, and headed toward Paris. If he could make it to his parents’ home, he would be safe.
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Teri M Brown