[Historical Fiction Prompt] A Novel about Lavender, the rise of the Purple Gold?

Lavender & Provence belong together – since forever, right? 

No. Actually, these purple plants were only imported to the region at the end of the 19th century – no earlier.

But why isn’t there a novel about the liquid gold that made so many perfume créateurs astonishingly rich?

A novel that tells the stories of the people who worked so hard to cultivate these plants?  


A Novel about Lavender and Provence, the rise of the Purple Gold?
Image: Annie Pratt


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A Potential 19th Century Plot Thread

Lavender has transformed the region of Southern France into those endless, purple fields of magic that characterise Provence today.

Who were the people who made this possible?

Narrate when, and under what circumstances, lavender plants were cultivated for the first time. Explore the obstacles that the first farmers faced. And the discrepancy between those who grew lavender – and those who transformed it into oil and perfume, only to sell it at a much higher price.

What was the turning point when the famous scent finally became a success story?


A Potential 2016 Plot Thread

Thousands and thousands of tourists crowd the French region of Provence every summer, to view the beautiful lavender fields with their own eyes.

But a mysterious disease is spreading.

Transmitted by cicadas, bacteria called Stolbur-Phytoplasma silently kill the fragrant plants. As they dry out, this means smaller stems and fewer blossoms (or no blossoms at all!).

In 2012, almost one third (!) of the lavender plants were lost.

Nearly 50 percent of the fields are infested.

In a novel, a local lavender farmer could try to fight the spread of the disease. At the same time, the main buyers of lavender plants and oil – the perfume industry of Provence – are severely threatened by international competitors.

Bulgarian farmers have started cultivating plants with great success; they produce already almost as much lavender oil as Provence. Ukrainian and Chinese farmers are also on the rise.

But those are not the only problems that the local farmer witnesses.

Chinese firms have invented artificial fragrances that are SO CLOSE to the natural scents, and at a fraction of the cost! Combined with the economic downturn of the perfume industry, the agrarian challenges are hard to face.

Is this the end of lavender, the plant that made Provence famous?


Love the idea?

If you could write this story, and you need historical background material in order to make this story an authentic (and gripping!) one, contact meI am Dr. Barbara, a historical advisor who collaborates with authors, publishers and literary agents.