Pay attention and you’ll notice something. It’s a phrase, often used in book descriptions or back cover copy: “But When.” It sounds simple enough but it changes everything. “But when an old friend comes to visit…” Or, “But when her son goes missing…” That single phrase is the beginning of everything going wrong for a character (and, let’s face it, when things really interesting for the reader). When we began to pay attention to this phrase we thought it was time to begin a new series. So we have invited Michelle Gable to share a bit about her new novel, I’LL SEE YOU IN PARIS in this latest installment of “But When.” Enjoy!
A college student named Pru Valentine is reeling from the death of her fiancé in the Vietnam War. She stumbles upon an advertisement seeking a helpmeet for a cultured, older woman in the U.K., the only requirement “a love of literature and the English countryside.” The girl decides it’s the perfect salve for her splintered heart.
But when Pru shows up in Oxfordshire she is greeted by a maniacal, half-nude, gun-toting harpy. Pru’s new home, a so-called estate, is a sprawling, dilapidated, Grey Gardens-style manse replete with chickens, dead cats in the icebox, and gaping holes in the floor. Townsfolk say the battle-ax is the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough. Pru has a hard time believing it, at least until a handsome, rakish biographer bumbles into town looking for a story.
Thirty years later, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess will take her from Virginia to the decrepit English home and eventually to Paris, where answers will be found at last.
As with my first novel, I’ll See You in Paris is based on a true story. The Duchess of Marlborough was born Gladys Deacon and lived a glittering, glorious life in the ballrooms of London and salons of Paris. She was considered the most beautiful–and tempestuous–woman to exist. She once wore the Hope Diamond and, they say, could’ve prevented WWI.
The Dazzling Miss Deacon wed for the first (and only) time at age forty, joining her life with that of the Duke of Marlborough, her best friend’s former husband. When the Duke died in the late 1930s, the Duchess disappeared from her palace and turned up in a broken-down home at almost a century old. The woman’s “missing years” intrigued me more than her gilded lifestyle and it was in trying to imagine how she must’ve appeared, and what strangers might’ve thought, that inspired my “but when.”
Three women, born generations apart.
One mysterious book that threads their lives together.
A journey of love, discovery, and truth…
I’ll See You in Paris is based on the real life of Gladys Spencer-Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, a woman whose life was so rich and storied it could fill several books. Nearly a century after Gladys’s heyday, a young woman’s quest to understand the legendary Duchess takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a dilapidated manse kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately, to Paris, where answers will be found at last. In the end, she not only solves the riddle of the Duchess but also uncovers the missing pieces in her own life.
At once a great love story and literary mystery, I’ll See You in Paris will entertain and delight, with an unexpected ending that will leave readers satisfied and eager for Gable’s next novel.