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Guest blogger: Charlotte Nash

9 July 2017

Paris, revisited

I had the idea for The Paris Wedding when my son was about four months old. I’d been madly editing The Horseman, working mostly with him on my lap (my son, that is, though I would have preferred my horseman hero if given the choice …). Anyway, my memories of that time are kinda hazy, but I was probably fantasising about escape. It might surprise you that Paris was not the most logical choice for such an escape.

You see, I’d been to Paris before, way back when I was twenty-one and travelling to Europe to meet up with this guy I liked, who was working in Bratislava at the time (he’s now my husband—but that’s a whole other story). It was the middle of winter, very cold and grim, and I was very ill with the flu. I had an eight-hour layover waiting for a train, so I went looking for Notre Dame, because I’d heard of that, and I couldn’t even find it. No joke. It was the era before smart phones where all I had was the map in my Lonely Planet and rusty high-school French.

I ended up wandering around with my Brisbane-summer internal thermostat ringing alarm bells (which could have been the fever) under drab grey skies and over mushy footpaths. The photo below is me, at 21, cold and sick with the Eiffel Tower just peeking through in the top left. Look at that barely-out-of-teenage petulance. Almost makes me nostalgic.

Needless to say, my memories of Paris weren’t rosy.

But again and again, I would hear Paris held up as this amazing and romantic place. I began to appreciate that a little when I found the film Midnight in Paris, which I watched over and over, because it’s about writers and time travel and wonderful characters (tick, tick, tick), and I think that was sitting in my mind. Somehow from that grew this unshakable idea about a wedding in Paris, but not your wedding. It’s the love of your life marrying someone else. And from there, I started to imagine how such a situation had happened. Someone who’d given up their great love for a greater one—and this became Rachael, a young woman who stays on the family farm to care for her ill mother, while her boyfriend moves away to medical school in Sydney and forgets about her.

I knew the story had to open as Rachael’s mother had died, leaving her cast adrift. She’s given ten years of her life to someone else, willingly, but what does she do now? Then the invitation arrives, and throws a spanner in the works, because what Rachael wants most of all is the life she gave up. And maybe Matthew hasn’t forgotten her after all.

To write that story, where I knew Paris would be a transformative experience, I needed a different view of Paris to the one I’d had on my first visit. So last year in Spring, I went.

Before you get ready with the envy, I should say that travelling long-haul with a one-year-old is not really the way to do the city of love. You arrive exhausted, you need two people to do the metro stairs with a pram, and forget going out for romantic evening dining. Think passed-out, exhausted, at eight while the city is just getting going. And yet … my husband and my son are the two people I love most in the world, and we went to French playgrounds and ate croissants, and found little out-of-the-way cafes. We goofed around at the Louvre and the Chapel of Saint Sulpice doing the Da Vinci Code thing.

We watched the trees all come in to bloom, and walked along the Seine, and I heard all the stories I knew about Paris echoing around. That was really why I went—to have the feel of the place imprinted on me, to translate that fondness into the book. Many of those moments made it in to the text in some way. This is us after finding a fab playground in the Jardin du Luxembourg on one of the only grey days—and me, I finally found Notre Dame!

 

Rachael finds something quite different in Paris, but I won’t spoil all those details. The great thing about all this (other than hopefully the story!) is that memory is rewritable, and I’m pleased to say that when I think of Paris now, I think of sunny days by the river and being with the people I love.

You can find Charlotte here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

The Paris Wedding

Ten years ago, Rachael gave up the love of her life. Now, he’s marrying someone else. In Paris.

The Paris Wedding is the story of Rachael West, who stayed on her family property to care for mother rather than follow her love, Matthew to Sydney. Ten years later after her mother’s sudden death, she unexpectedly receives an invitation to Matthew’s wedding. Initially against the idea of attending, she eventually decides to go, if only to convince herself that she is over him once and for all.

She doesn’t count on what happens when she sees him again, nor on the other turns the city of light and love has for her. After this week, nothing will be the same again.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 July 2017 9:17 pm

    Hi Charlotte

    Fabulous post and I must fabulous story I have never been to Paris other thsn in the books I read and your bok was a lovely trip with great characters and loves of emotion

    Have fun

    Helen

  2. 9 July 2017 4:13 pm

    Loved your blog Charlotte especially your final thought. Thank you 🙂

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