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Monday, June 21, 2010

Guest Post with Catherine Delors

In association with this month's Historical Fiction Blogger Round Table event, I have the pleasure of welcoming Catherine Delors to The Maiden's Court with a fabulous post about one of the antagonists in her new work For the King.

"The perfect villain: Joseph Fouché, Napoléon’s Minister of Police"

All thrillers, and indeed most novels, require a good villain to balance the protagonist and add tension to the plot. Historicals are no exception.

When I began writing FOR THE KING, which recounts an attempt to assassinate Napoléon Bonaparte in 1800, I imagined that the perpetrators would be the obvious choice. Their crime was heinous enough: Bonaparte himself escaped without a scratch, but dozens of bystanders, ordinary Parisians, were killed or maimed by the bomb, detonated in a busy street on Christmas Eve.

One of the most interesting things about writing, though, is that the author can never guess where her story will take her. As I followed in the footsteps of the real investigators, and the plot of the novel unfolded, I discovered much about the assassins. But I found another villain I had not anticipated.

That was Fouché, the Minister of Police at the time of the bombing. A defrocked monk, he had organized anti-religious masquerades during the Revolution. But much more sinister deeds lurk in his record: in the south-eastern city of Lyons, he organized the wholesale massacre of political opponents. Those were rounded up in front of huge ditches, and shot to death with canons and musketry. This foreshadows some Nazi atrocities during World War II. Robespierre, horrified, recalled him to Paris, but Fouché was the ultimate survivor: he conspired to eliminate Robespierre, and then wisely kept a low profile for several years.

Fouché was canny. He spent several years away from politics, and waited until the memory of the Lyons atrocities had now somewhat faded. During that time, he became an army supplier, and made a fortune.

Then in 1799 he was offered the position of Minister of Police, just in time to do nothing to impede Bonaparte’s coup a few months later. As my protagonist, Roch Miquel notes, “doing nothing was already a great deal for a Minister of Police, when he had to know of Bonaparte’s projects.” Bonaparte was duly appreciative: he rewarded Fouché’s benevolent neutrality by leaving him in place as Minister of Police. Was it the right decision?

Publishers Weekly mentions in its review of FOR THE KING that Fouché appears as “stridently unsavoury” in my novel. Yet I don’t believe I unfairly darken his character, and I provide a detailed explanation of his role in my historical note. It will be up to my readers to make their own opinion of the man . . .


Catherine Delors is the author of For the King, to be released July 8, 2010, and Mistress of the Revolution. You can visit her website for additional information.

Also on HFBRT today:

Review of For the King by Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine

A Creative Post by Lizzy at Historically Obsessed

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. Great Guest post, Catherine. I loved your characters.. and the authors note was just as intriguing. Which could have been whole other story on its own.

  2. Great guest post! I believe that your depiction of Fouche was right on, Catherine- Fouche was who he was and you did not make him any worse. I also loved the way all other characters came through- wonderful story:)

  3. Every story needs a sinister character and I think Fouche played the role beautifully. Most would expect Bonaparte to be the evil protagonist, but there were much worse things going on behind the scenes that the First Consul didn't know about (or chose to ignore). I also enjoyed the Author's Note -- it tied things up nicely.

  4. Many thanks!
    Funny how you found my author's note interesting. In fact it used to be part of the story (spot on, Marie!) but I reluctantly had to cut that part out...

  5. Thank you for an interesting post. No leader can accomplish deed, good or bad, without those in the background supporting and enabling them. Fouche was truly an unsavory individual adept at taking advantage of every opportunity to further himself. I look forward to reading this book.

  6. I'm not sure that I agree with the Publisher's Weekly review. There were times in the novel where I wasn't quite sure whether Fouche would come out as a villain or as a hero - even knowing that there was a guest post coming to the HFBRT entitled "Fouche: The Perfect Villain". I kept hoping that he would emerge the hero and help Roch out a bit! I guess that's what makes for such a perfect villain; he is tricky enough to make us keep guessing.


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