Monday 17 December 2018

Various Parties Converging on the Sea

Various Parties Converging on the Sea
When I was in high school, one of the set books for English Lit was John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. I remember it because it was one of the only set books (perhaps THE only set book) I enjoyed. I disliked almost every set text because the books were poles away from what I liked reading. They still are. I like books that are exciting, joyful, beautiful and written in a style I enjoy. Anyway, one of the chapter titles I remember from this long-ago reading is Various Parties Converging on the Sea. I'm not sure why it struck me so much, but I have never forgotten. Mind you, I may have got it wrong. (Might it have really been Various Parties Converging FROM the Sea?) Memory is a fickle thing.

I think of this title often when I'm writing. Some of my books are linear affairs with single viewpoints or maybe two. At other times, as with the one I'm writing now, there are multiple POV characters. They are all women. This is unusual, but this is very much the women's tale.

The first is Nanette, first met at eighteen and later in her forties. A choice Nanette made when she was young has far-reaching effects twenty-six years later.

 The second person is Louise, who is in her mid-thirties. She has never met Nanette or even heard of her, but she is still affected. Louise has always felt mildly overshadowed by her twin brothers who are two years younger. She is a devoted fan of the indie band Courtesan and travels to all their gigs.

The third person is Gemma, the twenty-something Courtesan roadie. She doesn't know Nanette. She knows Louise only as Marie Antoinette, because of her gig costume.

The three other women, who have just one or two chapters each, are:
Jordana, Gemma's elder, prettier, more talented sister, married for five years and co-lead singer of Courtesan
Yvanne, who knew Nanette and her son eleven years ago and who resents it when Nanette sends her on an errand
Philippa who is Louise's mother. She doesn't know any of the others, but she was the comparatively innocent cause of Nanette's fateful decision.

These six women, along with others (notably Illya, Martina, Keeley, Ryl, Josefa and Richenda) who are important but who are not POV characters, all play their parts in a story spanning twenty-six years. Most of the action takes place over the first few days of a music festival during which Court Leopold, co-lead singer of Courtesan, disappears. All the women know part of the story, but none of them knows it all. If they just got together, it would all be clear. The last chapter, with luck, will tie all the strands together.

Various parties are converging on the sea --or at any rate, on the Patterdale Music Festival.

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