By Elena Mauli Shapiro
American educational Trevor Stratton discovers a field choked with artifacts from international struggle I as he settles into his new workplace in Paris. the images, letters, and items within the field relate to the lifetime of Louise Brunet, a feisty, fascinating Frenchwoman who lived via either international Wars.
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She likes the tile on the landings: stark black and white squares, a chessboard. This is the calling card for the woman alone: There is no address on this one. What is the meaning of this nearly blank thing, with only the tidy black inscription of a woman’s married name? It means that the woman is of comfortable enough means to bother with such an affectation as a calling card. But what does it signify when her first name is not on the card? What does it mean that all the names that she was born with are not in fact printed on her calling card?
Louise has not written much in Pierre Cleper’s little diary. It floats around on the bottom of her purse, and she digs it out when she needs to scrawl down an address or a telephone number. The only marks she has made on the pages where the months of the year are charted are in June and in July: on the nineteenth day of both these months, she has put a small x, in pencil. To the outside observer, this means nothing. —this is our year. Halfway between the Great War and the Greater War: this is the year of our story.
They are quiet. “But I must get through,” the fellow in the car says rather plaintively. “Well, you cannot, and such is the state of things. You will have to back up, and find another way around; it can’t be that complicated. ” The man enunciates clearly enough that Louise and Garance can hear his every word, though he does not raise his voice. His tone is not angry: it is merely a statement of what must be, with an edge of mocking dismissal rising into the last question. His voice admits no objection—Louise thinks its authority is even more attractive than that of the black-suited man on the metro.
13, Rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro