'Lauragais' makes a terrific guide
The countryside of the Lauragais straddles the Canal du Midi and the Montagne Noire south east of Toulouse. Colin is a keen cyclist and a sociable soul, and has walked, ridden and interviewed his way into a past speckled with pastel (that’s woad to us Brits), cassoulet, windmills and pigeonniers, and knee-deep in gore – Cathars, crusaders, Protestants and Catholics killing and dying in the Albigensian Crusades and the French wars of religion. As a style of history-telling, Colin’s conversations with locals in the know caught me out at first, but his enthusiasm and the voices of his interviewees lighten the scholarship, and you want to know what he finds out next.
It’s a treat to learn more about events you thought you knew, those battles and campaigns and the peaceful industry of the area. Places too. I was particularly taken with Colin’s climb to a belvedere. I am familiar with the valley over which it looks, but I had no idea that such a watchful guardian stood there.
And why not see for yourself? Come on, Lauragais makes a terrific guide. Head from Toulouse into the Tarn or the Aude. Find a field of wheat rippling in the breeze and imagine the awfulness of the day on which thousands of men of one religious persuasion ambushed and slaughtered thousands of a marginally different one. The narcissism of small differences doesn’t quite cover it.
David Matthews on www.davidmathewsstories.com 15 July 2019
I nearly swooned when I spotted a copy of your book
My wife and I are Americans who are considering the acquisition of a part-time residence in Southwest France…we have been particularly drawn to the Lauragais…in part because of my fascination with topics like the Albigensian Crusades and the pastel trade, and in part because it's just such a lovely area. So I nearly swooned when I spotted a copy of your book at the gift shop of the Abbaye-Ecole de Sorèze. I'm only partway through it, but it addresses exactly the kinds of questions I have had about the area, and it has definitely heightened our enthusiasm for the Lauragais. Thanks very much for a job well done.
Jim Cumbie, 10 July 2019
A thoroughly enjoyable read
Eight centuries of history described in a single book. I had no idea so much has happened in this area across the ages. 20 years of exploration and research have been recorded by the author resulting in a fascinating account of this area of France. Well done Mr Taylor.
John Owens, Troubador Books review, 17 May 2019
I'm really enjoying your book
Just to let you know I'm really enjoying your book. The region that I already love so far has even grown in depth by your book.
Gerlof Bosma, 26 April 2019
Took me back to the many happy hours I spent discovering the Lauragais
I have just finished your book given to me by E__M__. As a one-time owner of Vigouroux, in Soreze, and currently living near Cordes-sur-Ciel, it immediately took me back to the many happy hours I spent discovering the Lauragais. I really enjoyed reading about places I know from visits I made to a lot of the places you describe, but to have their history filled in with such depth was extremely interesting.
Carolyn Eaton, 23 April 2019
A fascinating read
A very well written and enjoyable book that I could not put down. Colin writes in a way that really engages the reader. I particularly liked the way he wrote about his travels to the historic sites in the present to tell the history of that area. Having visited some of this part of France I cannot wait to return.
B Owens, Amazon review, 6 May 2019
Just to say I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book. We've lived in the beautiful Lauragais since 2004 and know many of the places that you've described, but not the underlying history.
I love the way you have woven the past and present into a very readable account. Wonderful!
Julie Locke, 22 April 2019
A perfect book for your bookshelf
Fascinating story of part of France that has escaped the attentions of historians but not of invaders, businessmen, crooks, soldiers and wily farmers. Colin Taylor tells his story of discovery as a guest of countless French hosts who opened their doors to show him the deepest corners of their cellars and the darkest secrets of their past. It is a tribute to Colin's nature, which shines through in his writing, that a foreigner evinced such openness and reveals not just the official history but the very personal stories of those who witnessed it, and those who dug it up again many years later.
Tony Milne, Amazon review, 3 March 2019
Once you start reading the book, you will not be able to put it down
‘Lauragais’ - steeped in history, soaked in blood - well indeed it is, who knew there was so much history to learn about the sleepy, beautiful countryside in the South West of France?
This beautifully written book is appealing to all in the easy manner it unfolds, beginning with the plight of the Cathars in 1211 to the great fire of Toulouse in 1463 and the beginning of the noteworthy ‘Pastel’, to the twentieth century wars.
Mr Taylor uses clear, friendly and informative language to persuade the reader to be a part of the major events that unfurl in his historical research into the localities of the Lauragais. His passionate involvement in the area give a real and personal insight into how it all unfolds and thereby making the book ‘a darn good read’.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to all who have the slightest interest in South West France, because once you start reading the book, you will not be able to put it down.
Suzie Garner, Amazon review, 4 February 2019
Certainly worth a place on anyone's bookshelf
An unusual first book from this author. Unusual in that he skilfully draws together a fascinating mix of history and travel in a very readable and well researched narrative to take the reader with him on a journey exploring the past and present through a little known area of SW France. From the endless bloody religious wars fought over this land, to the more romantic story of the Troubadours, of the ubiquitous Pastel dye and the Canal du Midi; to the deeds of the French Resistance during the German occupation in the second world war.
All this makes for compelling reading. Certainly worth a place on anyone's bookshelf. A new author of whom we shall surely hear more.
Aan Keith, Troubador Books review, 4 February 2019
I have enjoyed a lot your book
As a student in English class at the Université du Temps Libre in Toulouse, I have performed a presentation of your book to the students which was well received. You will find attached the slide show!
Jean Caprais, 17 January 2019
A must for anyone connected to the area
A well written and researched book that encourages you to follow the author on his adventures (both real and sometimes imagined) through the centuries of modern day "Lauragais". He adopts a very lucid style, helpful for the non native English speaker.
Keith John Taylor, Troubador Books review, 28 December 2018
Very good book. Loved the characters and world building!
There were a few moments where I found the story to be moving along a little slowly, but they definitely didn't last very long. Definitely a to-buy!
Alicia Mann, NetGalley review, 18 November 2018
Highly recommend to history readers or anyone interested in Europe
The subject was very interesting. This book tells the story of a region of France whose history is really the history of Europe. The author, whose work was new to me, writes in an extremely engaging way. I really enjoyed this and was very glad I took a chance on it. Highly recommend to history readers or anyone interested in Europe.
Thomas Lambe, NetGalley review, 6 November 2018
A stylish history of a delightful French region
All too often descriptions of little known parts of France are dry, skimped works that tell you more about the writer than the place itself. Not this one.
I know this region well, but this book reveals much that will enhance my appreciation of the people who live here and the culture they treasure as only the French can!
If you live here, or plan to visit the Lauragais, this is for you. If you are one of millions who speed through at maximum revs . . . take the first turning off the motorway once you leave Toulouse and treat yourself to the real France.
Jonathan Veale, Amazon review, 20 October 2018
Un récit passionnant, agréable à lire, très didactique
Après une carrière professionnelle en Grande-Bretagne, l’auteur s’est installé dans le Lauragais et s’est pris de passion pour l’histoire de la région. Dans une succession de chapitres bien documentés, c’est l’histoire du Lauragais qu’il nous remémore depuis la Croisade des Albigeois jusqu’à la chute du Premier Empire et la bataille de Toulouse ; à côté de l’histoire proprement dite, il s’est aussi attaché à évoquer les principaux faits de société : les troubadours, la création des bastides, la culture du pastel ou encore le canal du Midi.
Il a tenu à retrouver et à visiter tous ces lieux chargés d’histoire et nous livre un récit passionnant, agréable à lire, très didactique, émaillé de ses impressions personnelles, de ses rencontres et d’anecdotes qui ont jalonné ses recherches. Un excellent moyen de faire des progrès en anglais.
Jean-Pierre Suzzoni, 21 Novembre 2018
'Lauragais' procure beaucoup de plaisir
Cher Mr Taylor,
Merci pour dimanche dernier ; la réception que vous nous avez offerte à Garrevaques m’a fait passer des moments d’une qualité vraiment spéciale. Comme je vous l’ai dit, je pense qu’en tant que citoyen du Lauragais depuis plusieurs générations et très attaché à ce pays, je me dois d’être flatté par l’énorme enthousiasme qui vous a porté vers le Lauragais et par votre amour de la France. Mais il n’y a pas chez vous que l’enthousiasme. Votre grand talent se devinait déjà dans l’organisation fouillée de ce lancement de votre ouvrage et je le retrouve parfaitement exprimé dans le livre lui-même. Car je me suis jeté sur Lauragais et je viens de le terminer à l’instant. Bien sûr, aucun des neuf sujets qui le composent ne m’est inconnu, mais j’ai pourtant beaucoup appris : vous avez comblé une multitude de lacunes dans mes connaissances ou mes souvenirs. Il s’agit surtout de détails, mais pas seulement. Vous mettez fin à un grand nombre d’incertitudes.
En plus de son utilité, Lauragais procure beaucoup de plaisir : la vivacité de votre style et l’humour de certaines de vos remarques sont très divertissants ; la précision du récit historique et de la description des lieux et des personnages s’accompagnent d’une vue d’ensemble et d’une réflexion vraiment profondes.
En arrivant à la fin j’ai eu l’agréable surprise de trouver l’adresse de votre site et l’invitation à vous donner mon opinion sur votre livre (c’est fait).
Bernard Jean, 25 Octobre 2018