I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs and nonfiction lately from people who’ve uprooted and resettled in the City of Light and while that’s not on the table for me, it’s fun to dream. Here’s our little nest for the next two weeks.
I’ve also been reading a lot lately about the period of time during WWII when the Nazis occupied Paris. This was SUCH a fascinating time! And I’m learning that in many ways it wasn’t at all as I’d imagined.
As it happens, this period of time is critical to the core of the mystery I’m writing right now, “Murder in the Latin Quarter” where we not only have to find out who killed whom but also a little bit more about Laurent’s past. Trust me, this is how I intend to do all my researching going forward! 🙂
I’m loving being here–as per usual–and especially enjoying the cold fall. It’s still in the 80’s back in Florida and I’ve already bought three cashmere sweaters that I likely won’t have much call to wear “back home.” But I couldn’t resist.
Some things I’ve noticed this trip is that everyone is glued to their smart phones–even the oldies. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I have to admit to loving having the GPS capability. (Plus I look less like a tourist when I’m not all wrapped up in maps.)
One of the things I’m researching for this book as a result of its dual time line is the amazing Haussmann-Style buildings that helped redefine Paris as such an elegant, beautiful city. I’ve got four major domiciles in Paris that are as much characters in this latest mystery as the people. First there’s Grace’s rented apartment on the Left Bank. Very elegant and more expensive than she needs–hinting at the fact that she’s making some poor choices lately. Then there’s Laurent’s great Aunt Delphine who’s in a gorgeous older apartment in the Latin Quarter and where much of the action takes place (not to mention murder!)
After that there’s the apartment where Laurent and his brother Gerard (you remember him, don’t you?) grew up–likewise in the Latin Quarter but not near any of the nice parts. Finally, there’s the apartment building where Delphine lived with her two sisters and her parents during the war when Paris was occupied by the Germans. This building isn’t as elegant as where she is now but it’s sturdily middle-class and, bien sûr, still classic Haussmann.
These buildings, because they are so quintessentially Parisian, are perfect for a mystery that begins during one of the darkest periods of the city’s history. If this had happened in the States, all of the buildings would have been ripped down decades ago with no clue to hint at their history. But because it’s Paris, even today you can walk up the well-worn steps of the narrow stairwells–seventy years after the war–touch the ancient bannisters and rough stone walls, and clearly hear the sound of Nazi jackboots on the steps right behind you…