> Skip to content

Article  •  3 November 2020


A Champagne sojourn

Fiona McIntosh shares five surprising facts she learned while researching The Champagne War.

In Fiona McIntosh’s The Champagne War, rural France’s famous vineyards form a stunning backdrop to a heart-stopping adventure about the true power of love and hope during World War One. Naturally, for Fiona, roaming the world and drawing inspiration from the people, places and produce she encounters is an industrial necessity. (We know: half her luck, right?) So it’s no wonder she decided to place a novel in this most romantic and evocative of settings. Here Fiona reveals five surprising things she learned while researching The Champagne War.

  1. All that stood between the Kaiser’s Army and its target – Paris – was the sprawling vineyards of the Champagne region and the city of Rheims. If the two major offensives by the German army in that region had not been resisted, Paris would have fallen and Europe might have looked very different.
  2. The entire city of Rheims was razed during WWI – including its glorious cathedral – and its civilians lived a subterranean life of survival for four years underground in the ancient champagne cellars that ran for hundreds of kilometres below the city. Children were born, raised, taken to school beneath the city. City council meetings, hospital, residential life… even concerts took place in the champagne caves.
  3. There was such a massive sugar shortage that it was impossible to get hold of once stocks ran out. Sugar beet fields were turned to trenches, which meant the entire champagne industry was gravely threatened; most of it on hold during the worst times.
  4. Life in Paris continued somewhat normally, including restaurants, parties, opera and concerts, despite war on its north-eastern border, and its troops fighting in Flanders as much as along the eastern border of France.
  5. Polish-born Marie Curie had to quickly acquire French so that she could study at the Sorbonne in Paris. She and her husband shared the Nobel Prize for their research into spontaneous radiation with Becquerel who discovered it. And then to top that she won the Nobel Prize in her own right, this time in chemistry, in recognition of her work into radioactivity. She developed a troop of mobile x-ray units during WWI and drove them right up to the field hospitals at the front line, making a world of difference to the treatment of injured soldiers.

The Champagne War Fiona McIntosh

From the killing fields of Ypres to the sun-kissed vineyards of rural France, The Champagne War is a heart-stopping adventure about the true power of love and hope to light the way during war.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
What you should read next based on your fave Netflix shows

Done binging the latest TV sensation? Pick up a book and keep the good times rolling. 

Researching The Pearl Thief

Fiona McIntosh on the jewels and journeys that sparked the idea for her latest novel.

Researching The Tea Gardens

Fiona McIntosh on studying 1930’s Britain and India in pursuit of the perfect setting for her latest novel.

Free Fiona McIntosh eBook

Download McIntosh’s story behind her novel, The Perfumer’s Secret.

Book clubs
The Champagne War book club notes

Sweep your book club off to the sun-kissed vineyards of rural France.

Fiona McIntosh on writing a 'fish out of water' tale

The much-loved author chats to us about researching The Spy's Wife on the cusp of the pandemic starting, studying 1930s German history and baking cherry cakes.

Book clubs
The Spy's Wife book club notes

Much loved author Fiona McIntosh is back with an historical adventure to enjoy with your book club.

Book clubs
Mirror Man book club notes

Ponder whether one life is worth more than another with Fiona McIntosh's latest thriller.

Fiona McIntosh on DCI Jack Hawksworth

The bestselling author discusses tapping back into Jack's world, twisty-turny stories and her favourite crime dramas.

Book clubs
The Pearl Thief book club notes

A sweeping, epic story of love and betrayal from Fiona McIntosh; The Pearl Thief will leave a lasting impression on your book club.

Book clubs
The Tea Gardens book club notes

Absorb the heroism, heartache and healing of The Tea Gardens with your book club.

Meet the family at the centre of our must-have whodunnit

The Cunninghams don't really get along, and every one of them has killed someone. Meet the family to help you find the culprit.

Looking for more articles?

See all articles