31 comments

Mar 19, 2021

Fiction Historical Fiction

--Elise--


“Welcome to Bacon in the Pan, the podcast about women changing the world." My best friend’s familiar voice pours into my small flat like California sunshine. "Today’s guest is someone I’ve known a very long time.”


Outside, the sky is gray and dark with rain. Beeping scooters whiz by to the ubiquitous cadence of police sirens in the distance. I love my apartment, with it's soaring windows and light wooden floors, and I'm lucky to have it. 98 Boulevard Malesherbes is owned by a businesswoman on a long-term assignment in Australia.

I’m renting it from her for a song.

 

“Elise VonVleet is an influencer and brand manager living in Paris, and but it’s her blog, Joyau Caché that  has made her famous with francophiles all around the world. Welcome, Elise.” 

 

“Thanks for having me, Sara.” I say into my phone. “And yes, the blog has taken on a life of its own.”

 

Elle magazine says, Joyau Caché, or Hidden Gems in French,” Sara pauses, a page flips, “...is a rare gem. It's an intimate tour of the best Paris has to offer, highlighting the fierce, feminist side of the City of Light.”

 

“Well, the blog started as a way to chronicle my adventures here in Paris,” I say into the phone, as rain splashes on the window. “But it’s turned into a way for me to tell the world about all the fascinating women I’ve met here. They’re changing this city, they're changing the world and they’ve changed my life.”

 

“Speaking of changing your life,” Sara says. “You left everything behind to meet a man in Paris, right? Let's hear about that first.”

 

“It's all true. The whole sordid tale. I fell in love, sight unseen, and I came to Paris to meet a man.” I say. Sara laughs on the other side of the world. “But, crazy as it sounds, I ended up finding myself.”

--Juliette--


I move towards the bedroom, the hem of my dress rustling against my shoes. Standing outside 98 Boulevard Malesherbes, these shoes looked new, but inside this mansion, surrounded by spotless marble, sparkling crystal and the heady fragrance of violets, they look sooty and soiled.

 

A servant in a crisp apron opens the bedroom door. “Jules Sancerre to see you, Madame,” She says in dulcet tones. I nod in thanks.  

 

The room glows with soft candlelight flickering from the four corners of the most famous bed in Paris. The Valtesse de La Bigne is sitting there, like a tiny bird in an exquisite blue dress.

 

She turns to me, blue eyes appraising. She is stunningly beautiful, even at her advanced age. I hold my breath.

 

“You’re a woman.” She says, with a laugh that sounds like a spoon to glass. “Well, it’s about time I was interviewed by someone who’s up to the task. Come, tell me your real name.”


“My name is Juliette,” I say. A silk chair has been placed next to the bed, I move to it and sit. The Valtesse looks at me expectantly. “I'm starting a new magazine for the modern woman.”

 

“The modern woman,” she considers this for a moment, “And the writers?” Diamonds sparkle from her neck and fingers, glinting in the candlelight.


"All female," I reply. She nods and smiles. "We would like you to be on our cover."

 

She is a woman of her time, a lorette who became a courtesan, an actress, and very soon after, the most famous woman in Paris. She’s cast a glittering net, catching princes and wealthy men, then throwing them back when she’s done with them. They love her, they hate her, they paint her, they write about her and she uses them all like a master puppeteer. 

 

“I think there’s more to you than meets the eye,” I say. The Valtesse is businesswoman with as many layers as there are petals on a fleur de camélia. Hers is a story I want to tell to my readers. But first, I have to start with the obvious.  

 

Alors,” I glance up at folds of chartreuse silk cascading from gilded bedposts. “This is the famous bed?”

 

“Oui bien sur, ma cherie,” she purrs. “It’s true that the only opportunities for women in France are in the bed of a man, non? Well, I decided a long time ago that it was time to change a few things.”


--Elise--


I get up from the bed and walk back into the kitchen. The rain has stopped and the late afternoon sun casts a glow on the trees lining the boulevard.  


“Somehow I ended up with a very conventional white picket-fence life,” I say into the phone. “Then I got laid off from my Silicon Valley job, and my husband had an affair with his trainer at the gym. I did what anyone would do in this situation. I drowned my sorrows in cookie dough and travel blogs.” Sarah’s laughter fills the room.

 

I wince at the memory. For one solid week, I had planted myself on my bed with a bottle of wine, a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough and the flicker of my laptop screen, watching a gorgeous man named Trevor lead me through the cobblestone streets of Paris. It was a dangerous mix of sugar and fantasy, but it pulled me out of my funk. I got up, washed my hair, put on some mascara, and found him online. A few smart and flirty comments later, we had a healthy back and forth going that felt like love. Before I knew it, I had bought a breathtakingly expensive last-minute ticket to Paris. 

 

“So, you did the Eat, Pray, Love thing?” Sara says seriously. She's always been full of questions. Her current job suits her well.


“I had three glorious days with Trevor the travel blogger,” I say into the phone, “He showed me all the jewels of the city. We climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. We scootered past Notre Dame, we gazed at the city, arm in arm, at the foot of Sacre Coeur.”

 

I pluck a postcard of a painting from my refrigerator. A woman in a long white dress stares playfully back at me, shaded by a parasol lined in blue. Gervex’s Valtesse de La Bigne. I’ve always loved this painting. I insisted on seeing it the minute I landed in Paris.

 

“We haunted The Louvre, The Musée D'Orsay, all the museums. We discussed art. It was magical.”


“Then he dumped you.” Sara says.


--Juliette--


The Valtesse is not happy that I’ve brought up this piece of her history. “That was long ago," she snaps. 


“You had two daughters with him” I say.


Her expression changes. “Good girl. You’ve done your research.”


“It seems to me,” I reply, “that of all the men you’ve been with, he was the one you loved”

 

“Love comes and goes in an instant…” she says softly, “but like the crimson hues of the sun as it disappears on the horizon.”


Her words are filled with the kind of heartache I know well. Her high-society life, her outsized reputation and her outrageous wealth have blurred horror of her young daughter’s death, having to take her own mother to court to get custody her other daughter, her loss of self in the overwhelming shadow of the male gaze. Even though her backstory shades in the hidden corners of her spectacular life, I’m not here to talk about men. 

 

“I never wanted my daughter to follow in my footsteps,” she says. “Femininity is not to be used unwisely, squandered away. I did what I had to do to survive, to succeed. I think I’ve been a marvelous success, haven’t I?”

 

“But don’t you want more?” I write in a small notebook, looking up to catch her eye. “You are an author in your own right, a painter, a musician. An activist.”

 

“And yet most know me as the scandalous Nana.” A sly smile forms on her face. “Hell hath no fury like a petulant writer. Emile Zola is a tiresome man.”

 

“But better that people hear your name than forget you.”

 

“Smart girl.” The Valtesse nods, turns to the window and rises from the bed.


“It’s lovely out, ma cherie” she says. “I do my interviews with men in this bed. our interview this evening should be done properly, over an Apertif.


A servant arrives with my coat over her arm. She leads us down the massive staircase to the foyer. Outside, late afternoon sunshine illuminates Boulevard Malesherbes in soft pastel hues. Horses clip past. Two women walk arm in arm, shaded by a parasol.


--Elise--


I slide my arms into my coat and pull the door shut behind me. I press record on my phone and flip it outward.

 

Sara says, “Elise has something special for you guys today. She’s going to take us on a little tour of Paris. I'll put a video link in the show notes.”

 

“We’re headed to my favorite restaurant in Paris, Lapérouse.” I chime in. “But first, I want to show you my favorite park in Paris. I’m taking you on a twisty route to the Left Bank, but aren’t the best things at the end of a twisty route?” 

 

“I can agree with that,” Sara replies. “So tell us what happened next.”

 

“After Trevor left for Morocco, I was was an outsider looking in here in this beautiful city.” The Boulevard is full of Parisians now, heading home from work, off to apéro with friends. “I wandered the city, wondering what I was going to do. I had no money, no clue how I was going to survive.”

 

I round the corner onto Rue de Courcelles and stroll into Parc Monceau. It is lovely, green and fresh with rain. Joggers zip by and parents follow laughing children to a Carousel turning merrily next to a small playground. 


“Isn’t it beautiful?” I glance up at the stately hotels particuliers lining the park, the lovely colonnade circling the pond. “The city caught me, kept me from falling into the abyss. Every day was like falling in love. I couldn’t think about how bad things had gotten when I looked at the Seine or the ceiling of Sainte-Chappelle. I began taking pictures in my neighborhood and posting them to the blog. Then I got interested in the stories here and people started following me. One thing led to another and now I've been here five years.”

 

“You landed in a beautiful spot." Sara says. "I read that your neighborhood used to be kind of like a red light district back in the day.” 

 

“Well, not really," I correct. "This has always been a beautiful area. It's where the courtesans lived, many of them. You know how Cardi B used to be a stripper? Everybody cares, but nobody cares, right?"


"Yup," says Sara. I skirt around the long line at the crepe stand and head out through swirling green gates edged in gold.


"Well, that’s how people saw the courtesans. They were high society, fashionistas. Some of them were actors and singers too. People looked down on them, but they followed them religiously. They actually had a lot of power. And a ton of money.”

 

“Kind of like today’s reality stars,” Sara chimes in.

 

“Yeah. I mean, women had to get permission from the police to wear pants back thenThat law was on the books until 1993, by the way.”

 

I'm almost to the Place de l’Etoile, where the Arc de Triomphe stands like a stately bookend to the glitzy, touristy Champs Elysees.

 

“Meanwhile, these women were commissioning mansions and engaging top politicians in witty banter. They were smart and educated. In fact, pretty much the only other women allowed to get an education were in convents. ” 

 

A river of chic Parisians and gaping tourists carries me past McDonald’s Lauderée, Monoprix, Louis Vuitton. I catch my reflection in the plate glass windows.

 

“Today’s Paris is still ruled by smart women, except now they’re taking Paris by storm on their own terms.” I say, as I arrive at the Georges V metro stop. I dip down inside, warm metallic air greeting me with a screech of wheels on steel tracks. A train arrives, doors whooshing open. I step in. 


--Juliette--


The carriage takes us through the city and to the banks of the Seine. The river moves slowly under grand bridges arching gracefully, topped with golden statues. The Notre Dame sits regally on the Ile de la Cité, gazing over Paris, her graceful towers rising eternally to the sky. 

 

“When I was a girl,” the Valtesse gestures with her hand, “These streets were filled with sweet shops, clothing stores, sewing shops, staffed entirely by women. I started working here when I was ten years old, first in a sweet shop and then as a dressmaker.”

 

The Valtesse surveys the busy avenue. The lamplighters are moving along each side, setting glass globes aglow. Flaneurs move slowly by in the fading light of the setting sun.

 

“I thought this place would take me out of my squalid life. Instead, we were paid pennies, abused, shoved into the shadows. We were prey.” Her face dips slightly, then she looks at me. “It was the kind of horror most can only imagine. But I survived it, and with the help of the women here, I learned how to climb out, one rung at a time.”

 

“But the only way to escape was to sell your soul,” I say. 

 

“And once your soul is sold, what is there to do?” The Valtesse catches my eye, holds my gaze. “You either drown or you swim. I chose to fly.”

 

We arrive in front of the most beautiful restaurant in Paris. I’ve never been here. I sigh. The Valtesse looks at me, her expression softening.


“Welcome to Lapérouse, Juliette,” Valtesse says. “Let’s have a drink.” 


Fashionable people step down from carriages. We follow them into the opulent room.


--Elise--


“If you want to get to the essence of the Parisian mystique,” I say, tucking my phone discreetly into my hand, “you have to visit Lapérouse. The Paris of the past meets the Paris of the present right here.”

 

“Elise,” says Sara from the screen, “This place is amazing.”

 

“Oh, wait ‘till you see the mirrors. The courtesans used to scratch their diamonds on them to make sure they were real.” My reflection shimmers in the ancient glass. “And people still do it today. This is place has seen it all.” 

 

I walk into the bar, flipping my phone discreetly to show Sara the beautiful room. She gasps. “And this is where you have your monthly book club?”

 

“It started as a book club,” I say. “But it ended up being a lifeboat. Now, let’s stop talking about me. These are the women you all need to meet.” 


My friends are expecting me. Their faces represent every corner of the globe, their accents a beautiful symphony. They are painters, writers, illustrators, journalists musicians, activists. Changing Paris for the better, changing the world. 


--Juliette--


They circle the table expectantly, their faces turned toward me like flowers in a springtime bouquet. 

 

“Juliette,” says Clothilde, my newest reporter. “We can’t wait. You must show us the cover!”

 

I can hardly contain my smile. The first issue of our new publication is pressed to my chest. On the cover is a portrait of The Valtesse, a photograph. My interview and article about the “other side” of the famous courtesan is our first feature. I turn the magazine towards my colleagues. 

 

“We did it,” I say. “Each of you has brought this dream to life. Your articles are perfection.” They cheer as I pass them their copies, heads bowing over bylines, their own names in black and white.

 

“Today, the past meets the present and the future. You are all pioneers with incredible talents for telling the stories that matter to modern women. I am honored to be in your company.”

 

Outside our building, next to the Bon Marché, a woman stops at a newsstand. Horses clip by on the street and the sun beams down onto a stack of magazines. She pauses, picks one up, and begins to page through it. She reaches into the bag hanging from her wrist and hands a coin to the boy behind the counter. She walks away slowly, open pages fluttering in the soft breeze. She is lost in the magazine, people step around her on the busy sidewalk.

 

Her face, partially hidden behind a photograph of The Valtesse de la Bigne, is reflected in the glass window of a dress shop. 

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31 comments

Claire Lewis
16:58 Mar 20, 2021

This is lovely, ringing with power and strength. The two main characters, both empowered storytellers in their own right, are fascinating. I love that they mirror one another in action and in thought across time. The setting is fantastic, you make the city feel bright and full of secrets. And the touch of the groups of women at the end, all striving to enact change in their city, was just brilliant. It’s a shimmering story, full of incredible and inspiring characters.

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Julie Ward
18:07 Mar 20, 2021

Thank you so much for stopping by, Claire! I have a hard time with historical fiction so this prompt was a real challenge for me. I was going to do another prompt focusing on just Elise, but I just listened to a podcast about The Valtesse de la Bigne and I had to dig into her story. I wish I'd had more time to really research, but the time constraint is part of the challenge, right? One thing I do know about Paris, though, is that it is full of stories and secrets. What a city!

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Claire Lewis
18:17 Mar 20, 2021

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but I agree, it’s quite tricky to write! She sounds like a fascinating person, I’ll have to do some research too :)

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Thom Brodkin
19:12 May 07, 2021

Julie, I know you've been busy but if you get a second could you give "The Eulogy," a look. It still needs some edits but I'd love your input.

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Thom Brodkin
23:53 Apr 14, 2021

Julie this is a masterpiece. The detail is perfectly elegant. It’s hard for me to envision it being written anywhere but the streets of Paris. The detail and description is that stunning. I also love how you brought out the backstories of two powerful and talented women. You show they are not perfect but they overcome their imperfections. I have no idea why this wasn’t at least shortlisted. I have submitted a new story this week and I tried to move outside my comfort zone. It’s called “Tomorrow Is Yesterday”. Give me a read and let me know...

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Julie Ward
13:35 Apr 16, 2021

Thank you, Thom! I loved writing this story and I'm so happy that you got lost in the streets of Paris with me. : ) I'm also so glad you stopped by to give me a heads up on your story - it's just exquisite. I don't have anything to post this week. Post-pandemic life has started to roar back and I'm juggling plates on sticks...back-to-back deadlines, kids with schedules, a very needy dog who misses his daily walks. I'll be back to writing again once I have a little brain space. In the mean time, please please keep letting me know when you've...

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Thom Brodkin
13:55 Apr 16, 2021

Can I ask you, have you been to Paris? Your descriptions seem so personal. If you have you have a gift for writing that which you have seen. If not you have a gift for capturing the spirit of that which you have not. Either way it's quite amazing.

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Julie Ward
18:41 Apr 17, 2021

I love cities and am fascinated by them. My heart belongs to San Francisco, but my one true love is Paris. I've been there a few times and it never fails to thoroughly enchant me. I spent a lot of time during quarantine watching tours of cities all around the world. There is so much out there to see! I wish I could teleport myself - well, at least I've got the internet to help with that. : )

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Thom Brodkin
23:19 Apr 18, 2021

Well I felt as if I was there too and that’s great writing. I have another I’d like you to read called “The Promise.” It’s one of my favorites and I think your opinion would do me good.

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Rachel Loughran
11:43 Mar 26, 2021

What a beautiful story! I felt absolutely transported to Paris, and loved the switches between timelines. I am also a huge sucker for stories with real historical elements or characters - I love a story that makes me want to google something, you know what I mean? Your research was great - I can see from other comments you've mentioned you have a hard time with historical fiction, but it doesn't show in your writing. Really lovely stuff.

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Scout Tahoe
15:24 Mar 23, 2021

Votre histoire, c'est magique. [Your story is magical.] J'aime comment vous valorisez les femmes de Paris. [I love how you empower the women of Paris.] Sorry, switching to English now, but I myself do speak a little French. I agree with Rachel that Google Translate cannot be trusted, so you can use linguee.com or wordreference.com too. Your story really is enchanting and it makes me really happy to see women on the go. It reminds me of this show on Netflix called Emily in Paris, only because she's an American moving to France and discover...

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Julie Ward
14:06 Mar 24, 2021

Formidable! Tu parles français! Moi, j'apprends le français maintenant. Never apologize for speaking French to me! I'm learning it again after taking it in high school a lifetime ago - I'm just to the point where I can read something in French and understand a lot of it. (I can't thank you and Rachel enough for the tips...Linguee is so much better than Google!) I am LOVING the process of re-learning a language. I should be learning Spanish because, California, but I have never been interested in it. My heart belongs to France et la bel...

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Scout Tahoe
15:15 Mar 24, 2021

Wow! Moi, j'apprends parler français maintenant aussi. C'est une langue belle. I was also encouraged (beaucoup) parler l'espagnol earlier in my life. Ma famille was going voyager à France during l'été. Mais... la pandémie. Agh, what a messy mix of French and English. I have yet to learn past tense, so excuse all the "was"s. I actually like that show, Emily in Paris. It's more than just a cliche love story or whatever. I'll try to check out that podcast, it sounds really interesting. I really did enjoy reading. :)

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Julie Ward
15:29 Mar 24, 2021

I AM SO SORRY!!!! Stupid pandemic! So many people lost out on trips and it's awful. I really am sorry that you got grounded. I hope you've got plans for a re-do! I'm dying to go back. I hated Emily in Paris at first, but the locations drew me in and I started to understand all of the affectionate pokes at the quirks of French culture. I ended up loving it. Plus, I love the actress who plays Sylvie. And the costumes! But it's a Darren Starr show, so...costumes. Lupin is also really good-have you seen that? Bonne chance with you...

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Scout Tahoe
16:05 Mar 24, 2021

Yeah... it was such a bummer, but we're hoping we can travel this year if we don't have to quarantine. I felt exactly like you--I wasn't reeled in at first. But later on I got hooked (I also love Sylvie.) I have not seen Lupin, what's that? Actually, I'm taking online lessons, over Zoom. I've been taking it for two years now and it used to be in person. I do like Duolingo and I practice a lot on it, but I find it more fun and helpful to have a teacher and talk to them in French. How do you learn French?

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Julie Ward
17:33 Mar 24, 2021

Lupin is on Netflix, it's based on the story of Arsène Lupin, the gentleman thief - it's a new twist on an old story starring Omar Sy. It's really fun, and the French is not hard to follow (True confessions, I watch with English subtitles...). Call My Agent (Dix Pour Cent - also Netflix) is also really good. Great acting, lots of cameos by famous French performers, and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu (Sylvie) is in the first three seasons. I'm using Duolingo, but I had a pretty good base after four years of high school French. I'm getting to the...

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Kristin Neubauer
20:14 Mar 21, 2021

Oo la la....you have whisked me away to Paris! Your descriptions and storytelling always pull me into the heart of wherever you have taken us....whether it's the coffeeshop with the handwriter....or the seedy drug-ridden side of LA.....or the summer camp for teens....or the 50's diner. You have this magical way of not just setting the scene but imbuing all aspects of the story with the scene. It' magic! And the Valtesse.....such an exotic character. I thought at first that she was going to be like Madame Claude....she had a tinge of tha...

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Julie Ward
14:05 Mar 22, 2021

I tend to get lost in the setting-I'm so glad it swept you away. I have always focused on what's going on around my characters first. On this one, I relied on visual cues to get the reader back and forth between the two characters, it was really the only way I could attempt historical fiction. I'm still working on it because I'm really enjoying this world...it's been a fun challenge. And the The Valtesse! Talk about someone who took her circumstances and used them to the fullest. She's so interesting-I can only imagine what it was like t...

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Heather Mcquaid
18:09 Mar 21, 2021

Oo, nice. I enjoyed the writing and the history lesson. What an intriguing topic! I think you did pretty well, trying to juggle two timelines. I've seen it done before when there is an object, place, or symbol that helps transition back and forth. (e.g., character in timezone 1 strokes the cover a book, transition to character in time zone 2 picking up a book). But that could get quite tedious when there are a lot of transitions, like you have. Anyway, I enjoyed very much. :)

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Julie Ward
14:14 Mar 22, 2021

You're right on the money, Heather! That's what I was trying to do with the transitions. I was thinking of visual cues that would move the story between the two characters-almost like a ghost going back and forth through a wall. And I agree that the device gets a little tedious-and confusing-with so much going on in such a short story. I've always had an issue with transitions and flashbacks. I'm not a fan of them, but when they work, they're such a great tool. It's been fun playing around with this one. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.....

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Heather Mcquaid
15:01 Mar 22, 2021

I think most of the transitions worked well, it's just that there might have been a few too many for such a short story (as it's asking a lot of the readers). But that being said, I may steal some your ideas when I need to do something similar. haha. Anyway, I agree that going on holiday would be a most welcome transition. ;)

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Julie Ward
15:54 Mar 22, 2021

Thank you! And please, steal away! You know what they say about imitation...ha! I think you've put what I'm struggling with in this story into words perfectly. I'm asking too much of my readers. I'm definitely going to have that in the back of my mind in the future.

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Rachel Smith
16:18 Mar 21, 2021

Hi Julie, I enjoyed this story, I can tell you did a lot of research! I did have to keep stopping to go back as I got confused about who was speaking and where they were... Maybe having a clearer break when there's a shift would help? On a very pedantic linguistic note as someone who speaks French, be wary of google translate. Linguee.com gives more accurate translations. I say this mainly because "gemmes cachées" doesn't sound right. "Joyau caché" or "trésor caché" is what a french person would say. I know I'm being very picky. Still ...

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Julie Ward
17:33 Mar 21, 2021

Rachel!! THANK YOU!! This is just the kind of note I need. I'm a French learner and I really don't know how a French person would use certain words, so I'm grateful for your comment. I'll be using Linguee.com for sure. Plus, I like the ring of "Joyau caché" much better anyway. As for the transitions, I'm having such a hard time with those. I'll go back to see how I can differentiate without breaking up the story. This is new territory for me so I want to know where and how things get confusing for readers. I appreciate your thoughts ...

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Rachel Smith
19:48 Mar 21, 2021

Hello again, Please take the following detail as a compliment to how good your story is and not as criticism. I think this is a brilliant story so here is where I got confused and why: Mentioning California in the 1st paragraph made me think one of the timelines was in California. "I move towards the bedroom, the hem of my dress rustling against my shoes. Standing outside 98 Boulevard Malesherbes, these shoes looked new" - This is the flashback but "these shoes looked new" makes it sound like the previous section happened BEFORE this on...

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Julie Ward
20:25 Mar 21, 2021

So incredibly helpful! I put named breaks in between the sections-at the very least, they'll signify a change. I'm going to address your comments and rework the sections to sharpen the sense of time and place. This is why I'm on Reedsy, because of generous, thoughtful writers like you! I can't tell you how much I appreciate that you took the time to examine my story and point out where I can do better. Thank you! Merci!

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Rachel Smith
21:02 Mar 21, 2021

My pleasure! Reedsy is great. I'm also on here for the feedback and advice. Learning how to improve my writing and trying out new ideas every week. 😁

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Julie Ward
15:43 Mar 24, 2021

I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories!!

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Roger Crane
20:20 Mar 20, 2021

A very interesting story, if somewhat confusing changes in scene. Before I go into detail, I'll say that this had a mysterious and captivating quality to it, and the idea or theme of the prostitutes elevating themselves--and womanhood-- through (I suppose) "serving" important people is interesting. I don't think it can be reality, but I don't know the Paris scene. Other than the following comments, well written. This is what I gather, Julie, from the transitions (and I'm not sure that I am correct, but I read it carefully, sometimes going b...

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Julie Ward
01:07 Mar 21, 2021

This one was a challenge for me - I picked the harder prompt and got a little ambitious with it. Historical fiction is not my strong suit, but I really enjoyed writing this one. The research was so, so interesting. I see the courtesans (and especially The Valtesse) as the reality stars of 17th-18th century France, because they were. People were snobby about them, but equally fascinated by them. When it came down to it, these women had no other choice, so why not take advantage of the situation? They had ridiculous amounts of money, they se...

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Roger Crane
02:29 Mar 21, 2021

Don't get me wrong, Julie, I liked the story and the amount of research you did was amazing. I relate to that. When I wrote the first book in my Dragon's Tooth trilogy (Dragon's Tooth, 132,000 words), I did a tremendous amount of research for the Ireland and England parts (most of it), especially London. I felt that I could be dropped off a helicopter and navigate around London fine. Also Ireland. An Irish friend of mine (but I'm 1/4 Irish too) thought that I had been there, which I never have. I also researched the Celts and other things. I...

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