Behind the Book: In the Presence of Evil by Tania Bayard

presence of

Paris, 1393. Recent widow Christine de Pizan became a scribe to support her family, but when she is called to the palace to work, she dreads going. There, everyone fears the king’s attacks of unreason and they believe the charlatans who claim they can cure him with vile potions. But when a mysterious book of magic leaves a trail of real murdered bodies in its wake, Christine has more than black magic to worry about . . .



Although a work of fiction, the inspiration for Tania’s heroine is the real-life Christine de Pizan. Tania gives us an insight into her unique character . . .

There are plenty of fictitious female sleuths in mysteries set in the Middle Ages, but my novel is different, because the sleuth is based on a real person, the noted author and defender of women, Christine de Pizan. Christine was an exceptionally courageous woman. Early in her career, she became incensed by the way women were belittled in The Romance of the Rose, one of the most popular books in the late 14th century, and she dared to carry on a literary quarrel about the book with some of the noted intellectuals of her day. She went on to earn her living as a writer, an extraordinary feat at that time, and she continued to defend women in almost everything she wrote.

Christine de Pizan was fearless, the ideal sleuth. In my novel, she knows that the woman accused of poisoning her husband is not guilty, so she defies the demented monarch who refuses to hear the truth and saves the woman from execution by finding the actual murderer. She proves a point the real Christine de Pizan made in her writings: “When women set out to do something, they are smarter and shrewder than men.”

IN THE PRESENCE OF EVIL is available now in the UK and 1 August in the US. Find out more here.


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