Do you remember that novella which I wrote for my now defunct podcast (*cough* and which I never finished *cough*)? I expanded the story and plan to post an updated (free) audio version soon. This is the blurb:
On a golden day in early summer, two young boys meet in the crowded streets of Florence and change the lives of a man and a woman forevermore.
For seventeen years Ash has been eaten up alive by bitterness and hatred, caught fast in the clutches of the past. For seventeen years he has not been able to look at the boy he raised as his heir and not remember the terrible betrayal he had to endure. And yet, for seventeen years he has closed his eyes against the even more terrible truth …
Seventeen years ago Georgina fled from England and all she ever held dear. But for the sake of her child, she must return to confront the man whom she once loved more than life itself until lies and deceit tore her life and marriage apart.
Will their love stand a second chance?
Part of the story is set in what is hands down my favourite house in the whole wide world: the Villa unter den Linden. The current house was built in 1904 by the factory owner Herbert von Meister. Rather than moving to a more posh town like his relatives, he decided to have his new house built on the banks of the river Main, with a view of his factory right across the river.
The name “unter den Linden”, under the linden trees, is a bit of a misnomer because the trees that line the drive today are chestnuts. But there once was a drive lined by linden trees: this belonged to the old house which had been torn down to make room for Herbert von Meister’s villa.
My use of the current house in a novel set in the early nineteenth century might be anachronistic, but I love the house so much that I simply had to put it into one of my books.
This is the beginning of Chapter 1:
In the roseblush morning room of the Villa under the Linden Trees, Mrs. Georgina Crawley took breakfast with her employer and read the newspaper to the old lady. Once upon a time, she had had a morning room of her own, a house of her own, servants of her own, but that was all so far in the past that she hardly ever dwellt on it any more. Indeed, it was all so long ago, it now felt like another lifetime to her, a dream of a distant past, easily forgotten. She had built a new life for herself here in this villa on the river, in one of the small towns that spread along the river Main west and east from old, venerable Frankfurt like pearls on a string.Paper rustled as Georgina turned the page. “It seems that young Dr. Rüppell has been sending Egyptian artefacts to the naturalist society in Frankfurt.”“Naturalist?” Frau Else snorted into her coffee. “What a fancy word for butterfly-hunters and bone collectors! What is the world coming to, I ask you, when boys fresh out of school deem it necessary to dash off to some faraway places, simply to dig up bones or, worse, drag home some poor, wee beasties.” The old woman’s eyes narrowed as a new thought occurred to her. Judging from her expression, it was a most dreadful thought indeed. “Do you think he will bring back a camel?”Georgina glanced at the paper and quickly scanned the article. “There is no mention of a camel.”
“He will want to bring back a camel. Or even an elephant. These people always do.” Frau Else shook her head.