The Fourth Canvas

The Fourth Canvas


Henri Legrand is a civil servant in the French Ministry of Fine Arts who finds himself in Vichy, where the new Frenc h government is forced to settle following the invasion of the Germans in 1940.

An unusual mission leaves him in possession of a Polish royal artefact and an expressionist painting of the Vichy-French head of state, the venerable Marshal Pétain. It is the missing one of four canvases painted by a famous French artist. The satirical nature of the painting makes this canvas hot property, both to the Vichy Intelligence who wish to keep it from public gaze, and the German cultural Intelligence who wish to humiliate Pétain and his new government. 

Caught in the middle, Legrand turns to those around him in a desperate effort to escape his pursuers. There is fear and danger as he discovers that some of those on whom he relies are not the friends he first thought, and custodianship of the artefact and canvas comes at a high price. There is also a surprise revelation about Nadine, the woman he loves. 

Throughout all, Henri Legrand is something of an innocent, but with incredible tenacity he always manages to keep or retrieve the articles placed in his possession as his escape across occupied France unfolds. 

Legrand’s crossing of the English Channel takes place with a handful of others, all of whom are brought to England by the Royal Navy under the noses of the Germans. However, even in wartime Cornwall, Legrand is to discover that Vichy s ecurity remains a mortal threat, as he again counts the cost of acting as custodian of a Polish royal artefact and the much sought-after ‘fourth’ canvas.

ISBN: 9781852001193 

Size: 217x140mm 

Binding: hardback 

Length: 262pp

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About the Author:

Neil Hawke

On leaving Grammar School Margaret Morris trained in general nursing at Preston Royal Infirmary between the years 1948-51, and it is these years that she remembers within this book. She went on to qualify as a midwife, then became a health visitor. She had a career break whilst she raised three children and then returned to work health visiting in a multi-cultural and highly disadvantaged inner city practice where she was eventually promoted into management. 

During her working life Margaret started writing in connection with her profession and had a number of articles published in magazines such as Nursing Mirror and Nursing Times. Since retirement she has been involved in setting up and chairing a committee to found a hostel for young homeless adults which is still functioning. She was also invited onto the board of ‘Places for People’, becoming the chair of the North West Area Committee and later Vice Chairman of the parent board, only retiring due to their age rule. 

Finding she enjoyed the many public speaking engagements within her work, she took up after-dinner speaking using interesting and humorous anecdotes from her career. She has written Crying in the Linen Cupboard to show that ‘the oft divided, maligned, taken-for-granted NHS has come a long, long way in a short, short time. For which we should be truly grateful.