Paris, May 1968, the student’s revolution

These photos were taken by Bruno Barbey who was a twenty-five-year-old photographer in ’68 and a superb visual chronicler of the events of May 1968. He wrote later, “I went with Cartier-Bresson to buy helmets to protect us from the stones, but with them we couldn’t use our Leicas.’

It is always an exciting moment for an author when she receives an email from her editor confirming the date of publication of her next novel. That has been one of the highs of this week for me. My new novel, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF, is to be published in Britain on 16th May 2019.

I had hoped to have the book out on the shelves this autumn to coincide with the fifty-year anniversary of 1968 in France, a year that changed modern French history. However, due to various issues, I am a little late. The main point is it is on its way!

The book is set principally in two time zones: 1968 and the present. There is a small section that takes place in the 1990s but that is not the main body of the book.

I was a gauche teenager in 1968 and really rather ignorant of politics. My thoughts were all about training to be an actress by winning a place at one of the more prestigious London drama schools. So 1968 passed me by, which, I think now, is a great pity. It has, however, made the research for the new novel all the more fascinating, and if I could live those adolescent years of mine again, I like to think that I would get myself to Paris to participate in the student revolution. To have been what the French call a ‘soixante-huitard‘, one who participated in the events of May 68. It is for that reason that I have had a very exciting time writing of the involvement of my young English protagonist, Grace, who finds herself in Paris at that time and gets drawn into the fight and the building of the barricades.

The subject is hugely complex and I will come back to it again between now and publication of the novel and again perhaps afterwards. Who knows? But I want to offer a brief resumé of what the revolution was about, rather than dates and details, and I hope that it will whet your appetite to discover more with me along the way.

In 1968, the US was in Vietnam. Americans and youngsters elsewhere in the world were beginning to voice their opposition to the US involvement in Asia….

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