Sharing an extract from the new book: The Choice of a Countess

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15.05.2020 Posted in Red Writing No Comments

I have nearly finished writing my new book, The Choice of a Countess. It still needs some editing. I would like to share with you an extract from the book, Chapter 1. Feedback is always welcome!

“At the age of six, Guy was often prone to anginas. One evening, after two days of a particularly severe cough and elevated temperature, Angele and Louis called a family doctor. He came to see Guy, examined him, asked him to open his mouth and say “Aah”, and wrote out a prescription to take to a pharmacy. Then he told Guy:

“Turn you head to the side and cough as strongly as you can.”

All of a sudden, Guy felt a cold touch on his lower abdomen. As he continued to cough, he lowered his eyes to see what was going on. To his surprise, the doctor was pulling down his underclothes. It was the doctor’s wedding ring that was touching Guy’s skin. The boy was surprised and expected the doctor to explain what he was doing. Instead, the doctor turned to his parents who were standing beside him and said:

“Your son does not have testicles.”

Guy remembered that Angele and Louis turned pale.

“How is that possible?”

“I would not worry. They will descend later.”

“Can there be some mistake?”

“I would not think so.”

Sensing that there were other questions to come, he added:

“Come to my office tomorrow at 5PM. We will have time to talk.”

Louis accompanied the doctor to the front door then joined Angele and Guy in the sitting room.

“We will see the doctor tomorrow. He will explain what he meant.” He tried to sound confident.

Then Louis turned to Guy, upset that this conversation was taking place in front of his son. He was wondering how much of it his son understood.

“Let’s get you some hot chocolate,” suggested Angele.

“You know Guy, it is better not to tell grandma about the doctor’s visit,” Louis finally said. “We will tell her later. She will be upset that you have anginas all the time.”

“She will say that it is Mama’s fault again because she is Bosch.”

“Do not say that, Guy. You know very well that this is not true. You mother is Italian, not German, and she fought in the resistance movement in Lyon during the Great War. You should be proud of her.”

*****

Guy knew his parents’ story by heart, but he was ready to listen to it over and over again. They had met after the Great War, in Saint Hilaire de Touvet, a small resort in the Alps not far from Grenoble. Louis had contracted tuberculosis during his adolescence. Then, during the Second World War, he was forced along with hundreds of thousands of French men and women to work as forced Labour for the German war effort and ended up in Compulsory Work Service. Two years of forced work from 1942 to 1944 had not improved his health. Once the war was over, he was considered unfit for work by the French Social Security services. They paid him a small pension and covered occasional treatment sojourns in the French Alps sanatoria. The mountain air remained the best remedy for tuberculosis patients.

Saint Hilaire de Touvet was one of the rare stations that still functioned after the war. It had been used as a German resort during the war years and remained intact, which was not the case of other mountain stations that had been destroyed and closed down for renovation. Angele had received a short-stay invitation to the resort as a thank-you gesture for her work in the resistance movement during the war. She chose Saint Hilaire de Touvet because of its famous funicular. The local curiosity had two 40-passenger cars, which served as the principal access to the sanatoria and was considered an attraction in post-war France.

When Louis first saw his future wife having a coffee on a terrace perched at an altitude of 1000m with a view of Chartreuse mountain passes and canyons, it seemed to him the most beautiful vision of his life. She was tall, strongly built, with masses of black hair and–unusual for French women–tanned skin. Being Italian in a post-war France made Angele look provocative and exotic. Arriving at the resort unaccompanied and without children made her appear mysterious, if not downright dangerous. She loved driving sports cars and bathing in cold streams to firm up her body. Louis was just as tall as Angele. Unlike her, he was pale and sickly build. He fell in love with her immediately. At the time that they met, Angele was 28 and Louis was 26.”

To know more about the book please visit the page Coming Soon : The Choice of a Countess

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