When I was writing my first novel Castle of Dreams I came across an article about a Paris apartment that had been lost in time. I filed the article away knowing I would use parts of the story and some of the images in a future story.
My work-in-progress is a dual narrative story set in World War One and its aftermath and in contemporary times. The story of the Paris apartment easily transposes to early twentieth century Australia where one narrative is set.
The locked Paris apartment has all the things I love: an abandoned home, images of what was left behind, a romantic story, a mystery.
In my files I have an unpublished story I wrote some years ago in which one of the characters is an artist so it wasn’t difficult to gather the threads of that story, reread my original research, and use this in my WIP. I always give my characters a particular profession or hobby that defines them throughout a story and in the past narrative of my WIP one of my characters is an artist. So when I looked again at the photos of the Paris apartment and noticed the abandoned paintings I knew I’d have to include these in my story. Perhaps one of the found paintings will be of a young woman as beautiful as Marthe de Florian.
Marthe de Florian, the apartment owner’s grandmother who was a Belle Epoque socialite, theatre actress, and Boldini’s (the artist who painted this picture) muse.
The Paris apartment has all the elements of a fairytale including another of my favourite things: love letters from the past. They were found in the apartment, wrapped in different colored ribbons and scrawled in the hand of, among others, Boldini and 72nd Prime Minister George Clemenceau.
In the present day narrative my protagonist is a botanist who seeks the secrets of her family’s past. My mother was a keen gardener and loved to be outdoors and my daughter inherited her grandmother’s love of nature and gardens. I didn’t. Yet now I have started to research this subject I’m fascinated. Biblical references to plants and flowers is something I will use in my story: the healing properties of herbs, perfume, and more. Botany is a wide church.
Have a wonderful week, dreaming, writing and reading.