Robert Merle (1908-2004) was born in French Algeria, before moving to mainland France in 1918. Originally an English teacher, Merle served as an interpreter with British Expeditionary Force during the Second World War, and was captured by the German army at Dunkirk, the experience of which served as the basis for his Goncourt-prize-winning Weekend at Zuydocoote. He published the 13 volumes of his hugely popular Fortunes of France series over four decades, from 1977 to 2003, the final volume appearing just a year before his death of a heart attack in 2004.
A master of the historical novel Guardian The spectacular 13-volume evocation of 16th-17th-century France Independent The Dumas of the twentieth century Neues Deutschland A wonderful, colourful, breathlessly narrated historical panorama Zeitpunkt Robert Merle is one of the very few French writers who has attained both popular success and the admiration of critics. The doyen of our novelists is a happy man Le Figaro Modern-day Dumas finally crosses the channel Observer A sprawling, earthy tale of peril, love, lust, death, dazzling philosophical debate and political intrigue... an engrossing saga Gransnet We're swept away by triumph, tragedy, action and adventure... It's a novel like this that makes reviewing one of the best jobs in the world. The Book Bag Cleverly depicts France's epic religious wars through the intimate prism of one family's experience. It's beautifully written too. Metro Swashbuckling historical fiction... For all its philosophical depth [The Brethren] is a hugely entertaining romp... The comparisons with Dumas seem both natural and deserved and the next 12 instalments [are] a thrilling prospect -- Christobel Kent Guardian So rich in historical detail... the characters are engaging Sunday Express A vivid novel by France's modern Dumas... [there is] plenty of evidence in the rich characterisation and vivid historical detail that a reader's long-term commitment will be amply rewarded Sunday Times Historical fiction at its very best... This fast paced and heady brew is colourfully leavened with love and sex and a great deal of humour and wit. The second instalment cannot be published too soon. We Love This Book This is old-fashioned story-telling. It has swagger and, vibrancy with big characters... A gripping story with humour and strength and real attention to historical detail Mature Times A lively adventure... anyone keen on historical fiction [should] look forward to the next instalment Telegraph [It has] a philosophical depth... a credibly human solidity... whets one's appetite for the next volume Wall Street Journal