Angelo, a young Hussar colonel and expert swordsman, has had to escape into France from his native Piedmont after killing an Austrian police-spy in a duel. Travelling the roads of Provence disguised as a French workman, he falls in with an eccentric marquise, Celine de Theus, and becomes a guest at the chateau, where she lives with her elderly brother Laurent. It is in the early years of the nineteenth century, the era of seditious movements to unseat those in power and destabilise monarchies - and no one has a greater appetite for fishing in these troubled waters than Laurent, whose years are belied by his youthful energy on horseback. Now he has married a raven-haired beauty in the prime of youth, and she is not indifferent to this new Italian guest. Angelo is the archetypal novel of romance and intrigue, which Jean Giono vests with a psychological depth that transcends the genre. Readers of Angelo's and Pauline's adventurers in The Horseman on the Roof will welcome the opportunity to meet them both in this novel which first introduces them.
JEAN GIONO (1895-1970) was born in Manosque, Provence, the son of an Italian cobbler, and lived there most of his life. He supported his family working as a clerk for eighteen years ( with an interval serving in the ranks in the First World War) before his first two novels were published, thanks to the generosity of Andre Gide, to critical acclaim. He went on to write thirty novels and numerous essays and stories, as well as poetry and plays. In 1953 he was awarded the Prix Monegasque for his collective work. The same year, he made a prescient contribution to the "ecological" movement with his novella The Man who Planted Trees. This, and his novel The Horseman on the Roof, which was made into a highly-acclaimed film starring Olivier Martinez and Juliette Binoche, are also published by Harvill. Jean Giono married in 1920 and had two daughters. Angelo is the first of a group of four novels all featuring the same cavalry-officer hero. It was not the first to be written: having completed the three others, Mort d'un personage, Le Hussard sur le toit (The Horseman on the Roof), and Le Bonheur fou, the author returned to his sketch for Le Hussard sur le toit and fleshed it out to provide the hero with a previous history.