Happy September everyone! We are coming into my favourite time of year and so to celebrate, I’m posting a snippet from my novel, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris. Hope you enjoy it 🙂 Also, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has already downloaded a copy of my book. I really appreciate the fact that you took a chance on an Indie Author and want you to know that you are actually supporting my writing career in the best way possible – by reading my stories! If you liked how I dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s, please do leave a review (if you have the time). I’d love to hear your thoughts and it’s a great way to give potential readers an impartial opinion on my books.
Finally, thanks to all of this goodwill, The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris is now No. 20 on Amazon’s Bestseller List for Women’s Fiction on Kindle. So, as Madame Moreau would say, merci beaucoup!
The sky was completely dark by the time the train pulled into Compiègne station. I felt tired and hungry as I pulled on my coat and prepared to step once more into the unknown. Alighting the train, I noticed a young boy of about 15 sitting on one of the two benches adorning the platform. He was engrossed in some sort of computer game and it was only when the wheels of my case announced my presence, did he look up from under his hoodie.
“Excusez-moi Madame?” he shouted.
My instincts told me he was someone to be avoided, so I pretended I hadn’t heard and continued on my way.
“Madame, je vous en prie, êtes-vous Madame Lane?” he persisted.
“Oh, yes. I mean oui. And you are?
“Moi c’est Manu. Madame Moreau m’as envoyé te chercher.”
Already he had taken the handle of my case and was leaving the station.
“But, wait, I…”, my words bounced off his heedless back. That was it; I’d had enough. I was tired, hungry and fed up of being treated like a nobody in this country.
“Oi, kid, you listen to me right? I’ve been travelling all day to get here, nearly went down in a thunder storm in the process, so I think the least you can do is address me like a civilised human being and tell me exactly where we are going, instead of herding me there like a lost sheep!” There, that felt so good and I was certain that I had left him in no doubt as to the cut of my jib.
He just turned casually and simply said, “La boulangerie,” as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, which in fact it was. He gave a little signal with his hand that I should follow and set off once again with my brand new suitcase rolling behind him.
“And just so you know, it’s Mademoiselle dammit!” I finished, determined to have the last word.
I finally caught up with my hooded guide as we entered an old cobbled street. The place seemed deserted and a million miles away from my Parisian dream. Still, it did have an old-world appeal and despite the cold and the dark, I did my utmost to feel optimistic about what lay ahead. ‘A hot cup of tea and everything will seem better’, I reassured myself. We walked along a by a river lined with benches and manicured trees, and crossed by ornate bridges leading to who knew where. I couldn’t imagine ever feeling at home or familiar with this place and if I had a dog, I would have told him we weren’t in Dublin anymore. Turning a corner, I was surprised to see a street full of wooden frame houses, like something out of Tudor England. The old section of the town was like a fairy-tale village and I half expected the walls to be made of gingerbread. Nothing seemed to have a right angle and dormer windows peeped out of crooked roofs with pointy hats on.
“Ici”, my guide announced curtly.
Overhead I saw a sign saying ‘La Boulangerie et Patisserie de Compiègne’, while on the corner of the building was a small sign with the street name, ‘Rue de Paris’. Oh how I rued my ignorance.
“Well, it’s exactly what it says on the tin then; a bakery on the road to Paris.”
“Comment?” Manu drawled, as if the effort of speaking to a boring, middle aged woman was too much of a drain on his time.
“Nothing, forget it, or what is it again… Laisse tomber?”
Something between a grunt and a sniff was all I got in return. He had a key and opened the glass panelled door to the bakery. I could feel my excitement return at the prospect of seeing my new ‘career’ in France. At first I noticed the floor tiles – exquisitely ornate and designed in peacock blue and gold, with hints of bright orange at the centre. The counter was plain, but functional and of course empty at the end of the day. The shop was just large enough to accommodate three typically French bistro tables and chairs, all located by the large front window looking onto the street.
A large art nouveau style mirror with a gilt gold frame took up the entirety of one wall from floor to ceiling, creating the illusion of a grander space. Sconces lit the honey coloured walls with a dim light and as my eyes adjusted, I found myself suddenly confronted with a sturdy looking woman dressed in a black skirt to the knee and a matching cardigan that fought admirably to contain her large bosom. Grey hair framed a sour face that held the echoes of kindness long since departed. Despite myself, I instinctively took a step back.
“Madame Lane,” she announced in a way that wasn’t really a question nor a statement.
“Mmhmm, je suis, well it’s Mademoiselle actually,” I floundered. Her deep set brown eyes were formidable, despite her short stature.
“Venez, je vais te montrer ta chambre.”
With that, she padded silently behind the counter to an open doorway and began climbing some rather steep looking stairs. I turned around to thank Manu, but he had already left.
“Welcome to France Edith,” I muttered, picking up my suitcase.
Following Mme Moreau up the stairs, I began to feel like Alice In Wonderland. I juggled unsuccessfully with my suitcase as it knocked off the narrow walls and in the end resorted to carrying it over my head. The stairs took a dangerous 90 degree turn and then quite suddenly, I found myself in my studio apartment. The term attic would have been a generous one in describing my new home. At the nearest end of the oblong room a day bed sat snugly in front of an unlit stove and to my right was a kitchenette consisting of an electric hob and a sink with a tiny shelf above for delph. At the far end of the room stood a giant oak wardrobe taking up far more space than was practical and behind a screen was what I assumed to be the WC.
“Voilà”, Mme Moreau announced as though mightily pleased with her lodgings.
I was literally speechless, but she took this to mean quiet bliss. With a gruff ‘Bonne nuit’ and orders to be up for seven, she took her leave and left me to my doll’s house.