An Island Entire Unto Itself
By the end of the 18th century, Corsica had been occupied by France for over thirty years. Islanders yearned to recover their lost independence, and the French Revolution gave them the opportunity. Their leader, Pasquale Paoli, realized that alone they could never defeat the well-organized French forces. He offered Corsica to King George III of England, on condition that the French were driven from the island.
Based on documented historical fact, the author paints a detailed portrait of Corsica through the captivating adventures of Damian Berra, a young man from what is today the Swiss canton of Valais. After wandering through Lombardy to the Ligurian coast, as the victim of a press gang on a French frigate, he becomes marooned on Corsica, an island infested with bandits and crippled with vendettas, where murders are seven times more numerous than in mainland France.
The story also describes the attempts of the English to administer an island they eventually called “The Ungovernable Rock.”
Nigel Patten was born near London in 1940 and has lived in Switzerland since 1961, writing and teaching English in an alpine lycée. He has published nine books, including historical novels, a biography, and a three-act play on the last weeks of the life of poet Percy Shelley, and has twice won a Reader’s Favorite Award. The author has traveled widely on all continents, driving from Switzerland to India and back. For many years he sailed his own boat in the Greek islands, and has twice climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, as well as hiked other famous mountain trails. He has also directed and acted in numerous stage plays.Reviewed by Deepak Menon for Readers’ Favorite
Before writing another word, I must proclaim that, in writing this biographical play, Nigel Patten has exceeded himself by writing a classic which is a “true mirror of the times”! 5 STARS!! In the play the playwright describes the events that take place in the spring of 1822 when the 32 year old poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, his 27 year old second wife, Mary, and her half-sister Claire rent a dilapidated villa off the Tuscany coast, just before Shelley’s death. Shelley, the eccentric genius, is described in detail, both in the build up narrative as well as during dialogues, painstakingly quoted or derived from monumental research by the playwright. Shelley’s delicate, negligent disheveled appearance, his engaging personality, intellectuality, a childish simplicity coupled with great refinement, his vehement manner and the spasms in his side and chest, reveal the paradox that was Shelley. He manifests a persecution complex at times verging on insanity, suffers anxiety symptoms, depressions, and paranoid fears. Mary, increasingly withdrawing from life because of the deaths of several children, still lives with love for Shelley untainted. She understands Shelley and is disquieted by him, a shadow of his former self. Shelley, true to his theories of free love, is sexually intimate with both Mary and Claire who love him and had vowed to share him with each other. The play has fascinating interplay between Mary and Claire, who also had a child fathered by Lord Byron. The dialogue of the play is powerful and thought provoking. Shelley says: “I detest all society, almost all at least, and Lord Byron is the nucleus of all that is hateful and tiresome in it.” The play opens up myriad other unknown aspects of Shelley’s character. Influenced by redoubtable people ranging from Plutarch to Blake, and despite being a professed atheist, he is paradoxically attracted to Jesus, whom he describes as a nonconformist. Shelley detests the monarchy and the Church, both of which he feels violate the most sacred ties of nature and society. Conversely, he exhibits many gracious attributes, by even giving praise to Byron.
Perhaps the Shelley we get to know in the play is best described by Mary herself in a dialogue after his death in a boat accident: “Percy would save anything that had life. His integrity and sweetness of disposition are unequaled by any human being that ever existed!” I recommend this play as a “Must Read” in its genre.
An Incompatible Passion
An Incompatible Passion tells the dramatized history of the last three months in the life of the controversial poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
In the spring of 1822, Percy and his second wife, Mary Woolstonecroft, the author of the famous novel Frankenstein, along with her half-sister, Claire, rented a villa on the Tuscan coast. They were joined there by Jane and Edward Williams, and later the Cornish adventurer Edward Trelawny.
The relationship between Mary and her husband soured after two of their three children died young. Both Mary and Claire shared Percy’s affections, which caused tremendous friction, as the poet had a tendency to pursue pretty women. Claire had given birth to illegitimate daughters by both Shelley and Lord Byron, so living together in the same house was not easy for Mary.
Trelawny persuaded a friend to construct a yacht for the poet, and while sailing one day with Edward Williams, a sudden squall capsized the boat and both men drowned. The remains of Shelley’s body were cremated on the beach in the presence of Byron and Trelawny.
Nigel Patten was born in London and moved fifty years ago to Switzerland to live at a ski resort. He teaches English at an international school and has for many years both acted and directed in a theater company in Vevey. He has performed in numerous musicals, including playing Professor Higgins in “My Fair Lady.” His main hobby is mountain hiking, taking him twice up Mount Kilimanjaro. He travels extensively and sails his own yacht among the Greek islands. View the Press Release
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The Hounds of Samaria
Nigel Patten’s second published book creatively jumps from the 20th century to an ancient world and back again, as main character George Ghikas tries to unravel the mystery of his past and present life.
Shortly before WWII erupts, George Ghikas starts having recurring dreams about an unknown dancing girl. Because of his Greek ancestry, the military sends him behind enemy lines on occupied Crete with orders to organize partisan groups in the White Mountains. While George is performing this important work, he has hallucinations of the same dancing girl who has appeared so often in his dreams. Progressively, George is enmeshed in a 3,600-year-old world where it appears he was the victim of a human sacrifice ceremony that took place in a Minoan temple, now restored, located near his current base camp. The girl who has been haunting his dreams is the officiating priestess during the ancient sacrificial ceremony… until the temple is destroyed by an earthquake. Back in the 20th century, George risks death by reenacting the sacrificial ceremony of so long ago…until the temple is once again destroyed, this time by German bombs. View the Press Release
The Winter Should Pass
It is said that ‘The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.’ The Winter Should Pass by Nigel Patten puts this biblical teaching to the test, when his character Issak fears that his son will end up paying for his crimes.
The book begins in 1886, when Issak flees his native Antwerp after committing a terrible crime. Settling in Snowdonia, nestled in the hills of northern Wales, he builds a home and family with Rachel, a gypsy. However, Issak remains haunted by his past, remembering both his crime and his one true love, Julie. He also cannot shake the belief that his eldest son, Pieter, will someday pay for his father’s sins. View the Press Release
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Under Table Mountain
A fascinating old lady recounting her life was the impetus for author Nigel Patten to pen this extraordinary memoir of the woman and her times. Under Table Mountain tells the story of Louise Juta, the youngest daughter of Sir Henry Juta, barrister and Speaker of the Cape House in South Africa.
The last decade of the 19th century were troubled years in South Africa. Tension between Britain and the two Boer republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, increased until war became inevitable. Many notable figures passed through Cape Town during these years, including Rudyard Kipling, Robert Baden-Powell, Jan Smuts and Cecil Rhodes. All would visit Sir Henry’s home, “Mon Desir.”
The author met Louisa, known as Lady Luia Forbes, in Switzerland during the last years of her long life. As they played Scrabble, they discussed how she left South Africa in 1904 to go to school in England and never returned. Under Table Mountain is an unforgettable true story.
When grown, Louise leaves South Africa to be educated in England. It is as an adult in her final years of life that she meets the author Nigel Patten. For countless days, Patten and Louise meet to play Scrabble and during their conversations, the author is able to piece together valuable parts of history and the events leading up to a dramatic change of government in South Africa. View the Press Release
The Tide of Destiny
Turn back the clock to the time of Napoleon, as love, lust and danger take center stage in the stunning novel The Tide of Destiny. The story is set in 1799 through 1808 in Southern Switzerland and on the Ligurian coast of Italy.
Damien André Berra, son of a Swiss farmer, is exiled to northern Italy in the wake of Napoleon’s invasion in 1799. Inspired by a number of amorous adventures with five lovely women, Damien becomes a renowned linguist and short story writer. His writing is greatly influenced by his lovers, who make his exile more palatable.
This young man’s experiences during this turning point in history – on The Tide of Destiny – are set amidst the political events and the women he meets. View the Press Release
Les Molosses De Samaria
Ce conte insolite est le fruit d’une rencontre fortuite dans une cabane de montagne en Suisse. J’ai saisi l’occasion d’emprunter les expériences de son héros, un droit qu’un écrivain peut s’accorder de temps en temps. J’ai la conviction que l’histoire que je vais vous raconter a réellement eu lieu, bien qu’il y a tellement longtemps, pendant la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale. Un érudit, dont j’ai oublié le nom, prétendait que celui qui s’identifie avec ses propres croyances est probablement déséquilibré. Alors, je vous laisse le soin de tirer vos propres conclusions. Personnellement j’ai toujours été attiré par un degré raisonnable de déséquilibre. Georges Ghikas.
Les Molosses de Samaria: un roman
Peu avant la Deuxième Guerre Mondiale, Georges rêve régulièrement d’une jeune fille, qui ressemble beaucoup à une danseuse dans un temple minoen.
D’origine grecque, Georges est envoyé en Crète après l’occupation allemande pour organiser la résistance dans les Montagnes Blanches. Il commence à avoir des hallucinations de la même jeune fille. Il est attiré dans une situation imaginaire où il s’identifie avec la victime d’un sacrifice humain il y a 3600 ans. La jeune fille fut à l’époque la prêtresse du temple, détruit plus tard par un tremblement de terre.
Georges n’est sauvé d’une deuxième mort suicidaire que par une nouvelle destruction du temple, cette fois sous les bombes allemandes. View the Press Release
An Intermediate English Drill Book for French Speakers, with Answers
The drills cover all major tenses, irregular, modal, and phrasal verbs, as well as everyday and idiomatic expressions. Drills can also be used individually or in the classroom, orally, and as written assignments.
To facilitate use, the verbs appear in alphabetic order in each section.
This drill book has been tested on the author’s students with good results.
Griuns: The genesis of a small Swiss alpine village – A folk tale
“Imagination will often carry us to world that never were, but without it we go nowhere.” – Karl Sagan
Without archives for the Swiss Chablais region dating from the 11th century, this tale imagines, with some historical deduction, who the first permanent settlers were in an alpine village overlooking the Rhone Valley at the end of the 9th century.
The novel follows the adventures of a young couple, a serf girl, and a freed man, both socially incompatible, who flee to the mountain in the winter, and survive with the help of a monk and a gamekeeper.
“I have lived in Gryon, the village featured in my story, for so long that I felt it was time to show it my gratitude,” says the author. “I have always tried to imagine who were the first people to spend a whole winter there, rather than simply bringing the sheep and goats up for the summer season.”
About the Author
Nigel Patten was born near London in 1940 and has lived in Switzerland since 1961, writing and teaching English for the French baccalauréat. He has published ten books, including historical novels, a biography, an English drill book, and a three-act play about the last weeks in the life of the poet Shelley. He has twice won a Reader’s Favorite Award. The author has travelled widely on all continents, often by camper van, including an overland drive to India and back. For many years he sailed his own yacht in the Greek islands, has twice climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and hiked a number of famous trails. He was also a competitive cross-country skier. For forty years he directed and acted in a theater group in Vevey, on Lake Geneva.