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The Discovery of Unsavory French Aristocrats - an Editorial Review of "The Wolf's Legacy"

Book Blurb:

When Orla leaves Dublin for Paris to trace the father she never met, she finds herself in a forgotten village in the Cévennes where she stumbles on disturbing memories. A tale of loss and love, the Wolf's Legacy sweeps through WW2, the chic but rigid world of Parisian aristocracy, the student revolts of 1968 and ends in present time with, in the background, the terrible legend of the Gévaudan beast, a mythical wolf that, for Orla, may prove more than a myth.

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Author Bio:


France always evokes a patchwork of provinces bursting with local colour, flavours and history. In her novels, Michèle Callard has selected the most unusual ones. If you enjoy travel and enticing discoveries, pack your bags and lose yourself in her gorgeous fiction.

Michèle grew up in France but swapped her Parisian flat for a Bedfordshire cottage she shares with her Irish husband and her son. Her love of words began when she was very small, curled up with a book in an old leather chair. She now writes women’s literature set in France with a strong sense of place.

The Bear and the Basque is a fun mystery set in the Pyrenees. The Wolf’s Legacy, a historical novel, will sweep you through the ages as Orla searches for her mysterious ancestors in the Cévennes mountains. Soon, you will be able to experience the French Caribbean and life in Haiti with an incredible cast of characters in Born Under the Wrong Sun.

Bon voyage!

Editorial Review:

The Wolf’s Legacy is a fantastic read from start to finish. Readers follow the lives of multiple characters throughout the novel. In the present day, Orla, is on a mission to find out who her biological father is. Back in 1944, Jeanne’s mother is the nanny of Orla’s paternal grandmother, Arielle. In 1968, Armand, Arielle’s son, faces outer battles with trying to maintain his land in Larzac as well as inner battles regarding his identity. The lives of all of these characters are interwoven brilliantly into an epic tale of war, loss, inner turmoil and ultimately clarity.

The prologue of The Wolf’s Legacy is of great significance with regards to the way in which the story unfolds. During the 1700’s in France, it is believed that a wolf was ravaging the towns, killing hundreds of villagers in a brutal fashion. The marquis, Aymeric de Peirac, was partly responsible for leading hunts to find this monstrous creature. It is hinted within the first few pages that the wolf may in fact be a myth and that the grotesque murders were actually being committed by a person. A further clue leads readers to believe that the very man behind the string of gruesome murders may be Aymeric de Peirac himself. The fact that Aymeric de Peirac may in fact be a monster rather than a marquis taking care of his serfs is a critical theme throughout the novel. The de Peirac name and the violent lineage acts as the thread that links the entire plotline, characters, their motivations, lives, and actions together in a coherent story of tragedy and triumph.

It is hinted that Aymeric de Peirac was a monstrous man. Fast forwarding to World War II, Albin de Peirac is appointed head of the militia in France. He works for the German’s and commits atrocious war crimes. Armand, the son of Albin and Arielle, is deeply disturbed by his father’s actions and believes that he is also tainted, brutal, violent, and unworthy at heart, like his father.

Due to not knowing her biological father, Orla also struggles with understanding who she is as well as her place in the world. This is revealed through her thoughts when she believes she is about to meet her biological father, “I was shedding my old skin at last, though the moulting process was by no means complete. Meeting my real father and connecting with my de Peirac roots would complete the transformation. Who would I be when I came out of the chrysalis? I could not wait to find out.” It is clear that she believes the roots to understanding her identity lie within her mysterious father figure and his lineage.

It is fascinating how the author interweaves concepts such as identity with ancestral lineage. This is again evidenced by Orla’s thoughts, “I was on the way to finding my ancestors and in the process, finding myself.” The character’s personal history as well as that of previous generations appear to be intimately connected when it comes to understanding who one is at their core.

While Orla is on the hunt for her identity in the present day, back in the 1960’s Armand is doing the same. His dream is to be a journalist and spread the truth to all those willing to hear. However, he feels blighted and weighed down by the de Peirac name and all the responsibilities that being a French aristocrat entail. He finds himself falling in love with the Irish au-pair, Mary Sullivan, who is like a breath of fresh air to him. Unfortunately, their relationship is cut short. As a result, Armand leaves Paris with his friend, Virgile, to live as a shepherd in an isolated area, Larzac.

Overall, The Wolf’s Legacy is a beautifully crafted historical, romantic mystery novel. The mystery element keeps readers guessing until the very end. The unexpected twist leaves readers reeling in shock. The reader is transported through time based on the author’s vivid and detailed descriptions. The imagery used as well as the smattering of French words and phrases help to set the scene and engulf the reader in an entirely foreign world. The author’s power with words truly creates an immersive imaginary experience for the reader. One such description that truly transports the reader to Paris is as follows, “The summer air vibrated with heat, music, the clash of metal boules and the shrieks of children. Only the seagulls were missing to make the illusion complete. Yes, Paris was a powerful antidote to melancholy.” The author is evidently adept at describing places, as the following vivid description of Fleurac details, “The roads twisted up and down between the old mountains. Worn, ribbed with the memory of ancient terraces, the slopes had turned to grassy undulations.”

Not only are the settings described beautifully, but the descriptions of the characters make them memorable, relatable as well as easy to empathize with. The issues they struggle with transcend time and place. Their struggles are everyone’s struggles and are merely a part of what it means to be human in a world that sometimes seems random and chaotic.

Orla struggles with identity, Armand battles with insecurities, imposter syndrome and the weight of familial pressure and expectations. Arielle struggles with lost loved ones and being in a loveless marriage. The fact that these struggles are so universal makes the reader want to follow their journeys and see how they unfold.

To conclude, The Wolf’s Legacy is a phenomenal read. The mystery is gripping, the characters are fully developed, and the scene setting is done to perfection. The writing style is eloquent and the themes that are brought up are done so in a touching and poignant way. A key theme and message throughout the novel is the importance of living authentically. Many of the characters strive to find ways to live in alignment with their true desires, whether that is through Armand finding ways to express his talent through writing, or Orla starting up small businesses or Virgile, loving the life of an activist shepherd in Larzac. This is something all readers can benefit from and takeaway into their own personal choices and lives. This reviewer would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the author for inviting HFC to partake in this epic tale. It is a truly memorable read.


“The Wolf's Legacy” by Michele Callard receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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