Life is unfathomable in its infinite variety. People come and go, loving, hating, making babies, laughing, crying their tears, caring and not caring as they live their lives till death arrives. On the whole, we view our own lives as the most important.
London, May 2007
Anna was indifferent to the clamorous sounds of the city, focusing on the click of her heels as she walked. She kept her head down and her attention fixed on the pavement, diverted on occasion as a pair of flamboyant shoes flashed passed. Even the smell of freshly ground coffee failed to tempt as it teased its way through the air chasing a flirting drift of newly baked bread. From time to time, she looked up to check her direction, trying at the same time to ignore the hurrying passers-by. She avoided looking at shop windows—she did not want to catch sight of herself.
Anna did stop once, when a window display caught her eye. She was mesmerized by the long swathes of pure white cloth, before noticing her reflection in an oversized gilt edged mirror in the centre. The black jacket and skirt she wore did her no favors. Her hair, bright auburn in her youth, now fading and tired, was scraped back in a bun, although several strands had escaped and fluttered around her face. Her pallor, the dark shadows under her eyes made her look wraithlike and ghostly. She wanted to retreat into her inner world, away from the noisy bustle of pedestrian and motor traffic.
Anna had postponed this trip after the sudden, shocking death of her son, Jeremy, in a car accident six months ago, until she surrendered to the fatalistic realization that each day would be no different from any other. Jeremy had loved spring. A shame it wasn’t raining, because then no one would have noticed a tear or two, but the fresh spring day with chubby white clouds scudding across a blue sky and air that was apple crisp with promise, meant she needed to work harder at the pretence of normality.
The old fashioned bell tinkled as she opened the narrow door of the art restoration shop tucked away in a corner off Belmont Mews. Sighing with relief, she gratefully accepted the peaceful respite offered by the dark comforting interior. She had come here for a purpose. The world reconfigured itself back into an identifiable place where she could function.
Mr. Bentonly popped out from between the faded purple velvet curtains which separated the front of the shop from his workspace. He adjusted his glasses, his careworn face creasing into a smile when he saw his customer.‟Ah! Mrs. Seeger. How good to see you! I hope you and the family are well?”
A sliver of panic edged itself into her awareness. What should she say? The truth? She didn’t need to hear the same respectfully polite phrases trotted out where they ran needle like along well-worn grooves rasping at her grief. People were sometimes uncomfortable when a truth they were unprepared for was laid out too bluntly. And whereas she and Greg had used this particular framing shop for many years, this was a business relationship.
“We’re fine, thank you.” She hoped her clipped tone would discourage conversation.
“And the children? I expect they’re grown up and flown the nest?” His mild politeness hurt.
“Oh yes, off doing their own thing.” She pushed down on the emotional wave swelling in her gut. For a second she was back in the church, standing at the end of the pew next to Jeremy’s wreath covered coffin. She’d been so medicated she hardly managed to stand‒Greg’s hand under her elbow held her upright‒and the one image impossible to eradicate of Jeremy’s broken remains in the coffin. Her prayer, then and ever since, was that his guardian angel had taken away his pain and eased the last few minutes of his life. Please God, she begged, no more questions. “Does the frame do justice to the painting?”
One Summer in Montmartre Description:
A time-slip story of love, loss and obsession.
Anna’s curiosity is aroused when a love letter signed by the artist of her favourite painting is discovered. Even though she’s still grieving from the sudden death of her son, she decides to visit Paris to see if she can learn anything about the mysterious Hélène to whom the letter is addressed. In Montmartre Anna is thrown together with Francois, whose help becomes invaluable, and she finds herself struggling to overcome her growing attraction to him.
Luc Marteille is a volatile artist attracted to the new Impressionist movement. Known as a devoted family man, he becomes obsessed with a young model, Hélène. Despite being engaged, Hélène is flattered by Luc’s attentions, and develops feelings for him that could jeopardize her future.
Connected by an artist’s painting, though separated by time, conflicts between duty and desire weave a common thread throughout these two tales.
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