Natalie’s serial novel
illustration by Natalie d’Arbeloff, from chapter 4, La Vie en Rosé, used with her permission
I love the way a story builds up in a serial novel or sequel format à la Dickens. It is a clever format for building up anticipation, yet definitely tries my patience as I eagerly await each new episode. I particularly recall in my silly teenage years reading serials in some monthly magazines, waiting weeks between issues – a clever way also for publishers to keep up sales and deplete my meager allowance. One summer vacation at the cottage, I found a stack of very old yellowed Finnish newspapers with a romantic serial novel in it and that was heaven without the wait!
I’m sure most of my readers need no introduction to my friend, the artist, writer, long-time blogger, Natalie d’Arbeloff of Blaugustine fame. If you don’t know her, I suggest you visit her now and read one of her latest creative ventures, the serial story La Vie en Rosé (and it’s free). There are already sixteen chapters to savour. Like many good tales, it has an intriguing true story within the story, interesting characters and a bit of French. The illustrations are very much “Natalie” yet unlike the graphic novels that she is well-known for.
Here are two excerpts, the first her introduction to how it all began:
The first installment of this story, posted on June 15, 2009 on Blaugustine, was my 250 word contribution to an online game of Consequences (each successive entry in the game began with the closing lines of its predecessor). But because some readers encouraged me to continue where I left off, somehow it just grew and became this illustrated story, which will finish whenever it finishes. New installments are added in consecutive order whenever I write a new one. Your patience is appreciated.
Then a passage from Chapter 13 which particularly had me smiling:
Susan closed her notebook and took a deep breath. The words tumbled out like marbles scattering haphazardly all over the table. She spoke too loud, too fast and too intensely. The important thing was to get through.
“After I saw your garden you know Père Lafitte I went home and looked up the postman Cheval and something changed something happened I don’t know I started walking every day the roads around here have you seen the rubbish at the side of the roads all the plastic bottles and everything I counted them I made notes you know when I was a child an only child we went to the beach and I’d take my little spade and I’d be building sand things all day long not castles just small houses with big windows and gardens once I won a prize for my sand house you know if that postman was alive today maybe he’d be picking up rubbish instead of stones along the country roads to build his Palais Idéal that’s what I was thinking and Père Lafitte listen it’s not impossible in Los Angeles a man called Rodia built amazing towers out of broken glass all by himself like Cheval and I was thinking maybe I mean why not I could collect the stuff in my car the plastic bottles especially it wouldn’t take that long and I’d bring them to your garden and then we could I mean you could and I’d help you build something you know maybe some kind of chapel and it would always be there I can see it in my mind I’ve been dreaming about it remember when you told me about doing something extraordinary comme ça for no reason Père Lafitte something just clicked then like I’ve always known it but never heard it expressed before so what do you say ?”
Do leave a note for Natalie, she loves to hear from readers. (And tell her from me to hurry up with the next episodes.)