Click here to signup for a free membership
Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Bryn Turnbull

July 19, 2023

Telling Their Stories 

History, it’s said, is written by the victors. It’s a truth that I confront nearly every day, when I crack open the spine of a textbook to research a new historical novel: history, written in stark black and white, chronicling the mighty exploits of….

Men, mostly. Because for the vast majority of recorded history, that is the group that counted as the victors: men. More specifically, straight, white men.

And if history is written by the victors, it’s no surprise that theirs are the stories which are passed down in textbooks.

But we all know that history isn’t exclusively male. Nor white. Nor straight. History encompasses the stories of different cultures, different individuals and lived experiences.  And it’s for that reason, I believe, that historical fiction resonates so very strongly with women: it’s a way for us to write ourselves back into a historical record that so often leaves us out.

Take, for example, the Second World War. It’s easy to think of the war as fought exclusively by men, but what about the wartime exploits of the 6888th Battalion – the first black female American regiment to serve overseas? Or the stories of the Bletchley Park codebreakers who worked alongside Alan Turing to break the unbreakable code of the German enigma machine? Or Rose Valland: the woman who saved thousands of Jewish-owned works of art from falling into Nazi hands – and who, incidentally inspired my most recent novel?

Historical fiction provides an entry point into the historical record by infusing the record with personal experience, allowing us to bring the day-to-day reality of a time and place to life more vividly than we could ever do within the confines of a textbook. Historical fiction allows us to slip into the shoes of our historical heroines, giving us rare insight into the thoughts and feelings that guide individual action: action which is based on real historical events, or else fictional scenarios designed to illuminate some broader truth.

In my most recent novel, The Paris Deception, I bring readers into the dark and dangerous days of the German occupation of France, and look at the impact of the Holocaust on Europe’s art world. Threading fictional characters amongst real-life historical figures (including the aforementioned Rose Valland), The Paris Deception tells the story of a unique collection of Jewish-owned artwork looted by the Germans, and the two young women – sisters in law at serious odds – who band together to save it by replacing the original paintings with skilful forgeries… however, when the collection catches the eye of Hermann Goering’s handpicked art dealer, how long can they sustain the masterful illusion?

It’s a story of sisterhood, family, grief and friendship, celebrating the stories of individual heroism and the small-scale resistance of everyday people – the sorts of women whose stories, too often, are pushed into the footnotes of the history books. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


From internationally bestselling author Bryn Turnbull comes a breathtaking novel about art theft and forgery in Nazi-occupied Paris, and two brave women who risk their lives rescuing looted masterpieces from Nazi destruction.

Print This Page

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Linda Tucker
    July 19, 2023 at 5:35 pm

    This book sounds so very good.
    Thank you.

Leave a Reply