Celestine: Voices from a French Village by Gillian Tindall
One summer evening in central France, Gillian Tindall went on an errand into a deserted house. There she discovered a cache of letters in various hands, all written to the same woman. In piecing together the life of this extraordinary person, the author rediscovered a vanished village world and a remarkable period in French history. Celestine Chaumette, an innkeeper's daughter, lived from 1844 until 1933. Many changes occurred during her lifetime, but her story has more to do with the persistence of the past than the loss of it, and Gillian Tindall makes use of a number of sources, from archive material to works of literature, to recreate her life and the life of her village.