Today marks the 227th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, a prison in Paris that became a symbol of the corrupt authority of the French monarchy during the rule of Louis XVI. The storming and fall of the Bastille would become marked as one of flash points of the French Revolution.
In the spirit of freedom and the fight for individual rights, we thought it an appropriate occasion to announce our latest acquisition, a novel called The Fortress by debut author Madeleine Romeyer Dherbey. The novel takes place during WWII France:
The occupation has not made much of a difference in Alix’s life. Her father has seen to it that she grow up, unaware but safe in her tiny village under the cliffs of the Vercors. All around her he has built a fortress whose walls he defends-until the 27th of April, 1944. That day he makes a stupid mistake up on the edge of the cliff, and the walls come crashing down. The war breaks into Alix’s life with unrelenting violence, unforeseen possibilities. Whom then on, every decision she makes will mean life and death.
We’re excited to share the novel because at the heart of it lies everything Freedom Forge Press is all about: an individual’s search for freedom in a world that seems it will never be free. We asked Madeleine to write a bit about what inspired her to write the novel:
(Sharing the post from Madeleine’s website:)
Land of revolutions and invasions, France has a deep, almost intimate relationship with the fortress, whether it stands in the way of tyranny or freedom. Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, the people of Paris rose and stormed the Bastille fortress, a symbol of oppression and corruption, and took the first steps to claiming their God-given right to chart their own destiny. Seventy-two years ago on the same fateful date, Vassieux-en-Vercors was destroyed by the Nazis, sealing the fate of that last of French fortresses, the Vercors libre. To commemorate the occasion, I wanted to reflect on the reason I wrote The Fortress.
It started when I looked around one day and realized things were no longer making any sense. First I thought, maybe it’s me. My internet is slow, I don’t have satellite TV or a cell phone, I must have missed the Hi Tech revolution. The change, the hope, the promised land.
And then I thought again. It was not me, it was really the world that was changing fast, much too fast for me or anyone to understand. Maybe all of us, safe, successful, and inclined to look the other way, had missed, or rather ignored, what is really happening.
“What are you going to do about it?” my husband said. “It’s too late for America.”
Because he was right, I started writing. And because he was wrong, I kept on writing.
I had to go back two generations, to a time when strong women liked strong men, people knew which bathroom to use, and we weren’t killing babies, in order to find the broken thread. Two generations ago we could name our enemy and look him in the face. Two generations ago we knew what it took to stay free. But even then we waited till it was almost too late. The reckoning was painful—an absolute concept if there are any. We had to be routed first, utterly crushed before we understood what we had lost. When that handful of men came to the Vercors Mountains, they were beyond debating the meaning of life and moral purity. They had nothing left, no friends, no allies, no hope of ever succeeding. Dying an honorable death to redeem the shame of defeat was their last dream, and the Fortress was their last stand.
Today we don’t have to die, but there’s something to be said for Resistance. Uncompromising, vigilant, always rational, the indestructible belief that the last spark of light will conquer darkness. Maybe it’s called Faith.
Which brings me to my main point. The past, the present, the future, nothing is accidental. We build tomorrow, one individual at a time, one decision at a time. An act for freedom, an act for servitude. An act of resistance, or surrender. Neither Alix nor Marc, the two protagonists, set out to change the world when the war breaks into their lives. They finally find the point beyond which life is no longer worth living, and stop backing up.
Whether the world makes any sense—has it ever? We all find that point, the starting point of our resistance. Agree, stand down, shut up—or not. How we choose to resist remains our decision, and ours only. Our dream, our fortress, our spark in the darkness.
PHOTO CREDIT: Prise de la Bastille (The Storming of the Bastille) by Jean-Pierre Houël via Public Domain