In 1629, Nathan Le Cerf joins the forces of the Comte d'Anchire. The latter forces him to fight a duel, then sentences him to be beheaded for having broken Louis XIII's edict on duels. Nathan escapes and flees to the Toulouse area, disguises himself as a pastel maker and settles in a lowly hut. As he plots his revenge, he marries Marthe de Lairac, unaware that she too has been bent on revenge for years now...
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"I have a painter friend called Pierre Skira who does wonderful work in pastels. He asked me (...) to do a book with him. I preferred a fiction work to the usually stuffy texts that you read in catalogues. (...) Pastels don't lie. I therefore wanted a love story that didn't lie, a violent Louis XIII passion of the mind. (...). I showed what I'd written to Jean-Louis Livi (...). I told him it was something that a writer isn't allowed to do : tell a story that ends two-thirds of the way through the book and that is immediately followed by another. The fact that love, in addition to desire, is enriched by female revenge, (...) touched him deeply. He did everything, he introduced me to Benoît Barbier. The story became a film."