The heart of mystery is perfection. The writer needs to find the perfect ‘crime’ with which to begin. The reader should not be able to work it out. If you committed it, you could … get away with it.
As a writer you need to force yourself into becoming a master detective, into solving the mystery in a way in which you outsmart yourself. You need to discover the flaw in what you thought was perfect.
But what if you discover a true story that not only holds all of these elements, but is also set in the most romantic city in the world, and encompasses a secret love story from the past, its ghost-like images captivating not only you, but also thousands of bloggers all over the world?
This was what happened to me. I was writing a mystery surrounding valuable art. It involved a love affair from the past and I was working with an agency in London. The novel was almost ready. But then, I read about THE PARIS TIME CAPSULE. Now, you see, I adore France. I speak French, and I love history. I have a passion for art. I have been to Paris so many times that I can close my eyes and sense it from where I am sitting now.
I had to switch stories.
So – here was the true story that became the inspiration for the novel. A woman died aged ninety-one in the south of France in 2010, but she kept a ravishing secret for seventy years.
It was only when the woman died that her heirs discovered that she was the owner of an extraordinary apartment in Paris. The woman, who was only known as ‘Madame de Florian,’ (she becomes Isabelle de Florian in my novel) had fled the city just before the Nazi invasion in 1940, never to return. But that was not all. Inside this Paris apartment there were treasures, antiques, all manner of exotic gifts that had been locked up for seventy years, not to mention a portrait of the owner’s grandmother, the famous Belle Epoque courtesan and actress Marthe de Florian. It was unsigned, and it was in the style of a famous Belle Epoque artist.
Experts trawled through bundles of love letters from actress Marthe’s many gentlemen admirers, looking for clues. Amongst love notes to Marthe from these powerful men, including George Clemenceau, the then prime minister of France, they found what they were looking for – a letter from Giovanni Boldini, famous Belle Epoque artist, and his calling card. Later, the experts discovered a description of the unsigned painting in Boldini’s late wife’s diaries. Boldini had painted Marthe de Florian when she was twenty-four years old.
Now. Fascinating as this love story between an artist and actress was – the real question to me was, why did the owner of this stunning apartment abandon it for seventy years? Why, even after the war, did she never return to Paris? And why did she keep all of this a secret until she died?
That was what I wanted to write about. The more I delved into this world, the more fascinated I became.
Here is the blurb for THE PARIS TIME CAPSULE:
New York photographer Cat Jordan has fought hard to free herself from the past, but when a stranger dies, Cat finds herself the sole inheritor of a treasure filled apartment in Paris that has been locked up and abandoned for seventy years.
A stash of love letters belonging to Marthe de Florian, one of the Belle Époque’s most famous demimondaines, and the appearance of the mysterious Isabelle de Florian’s grandson leads Cat in search of the reasons why Isabelle kept her Paris apartment a secret, and why she left her entire estate to Cat.
As Cat unravels the story, she too begins her own journey … realizing that the secrets in the apartment may finally unfasten the future.
Now, I’m researching the second novel inspired by this story. I can’t leave this world … not just yet.
Tell me, what is the most perfect, true mystery that you have come across?
We have one free print copy of THE PARIS TIME CAPSULE to give away to a commentator.
About Ella Carey
Ella Carey is a self confessed Francophile who can almost claim Paris as her second home. Ella spotted the story of the apartment in Paris that had been abandoned for seventy years on a blog, in 2011. At that time, Ella was working with an agency in London on a novel about a mystery surrounding valuable art. But the story about a woman who left her treasure filled apartment in Paris, not to mention a valuable Boldini portrait hanging on the wall, never to return again, seemed the perfect inspiration. Why did the apartment’s owner, Madame de Florian never return to Paris? Why did she keep the apartment a secret until she died? What’s more, the story held all Ella’s passions in one perfect package. Ella has degrees in English literature and Music, and a passion for Art and History. She has learned French since she was five and has travelled to Paris at least a dozen times. Ella has had her work published in the Review of Australian Fiction and has written stories for as long as she has spoken French. Ella Carey lives with her husband, two children and two divine Italian greyhounds. website | Facebook | GoodReads | @ella_carey
Praise for Ella Carey:
‘Ella Carey creates an almost impossibly romantic atmosphere.’ Rachel Edwards, Review of Australian Fiction.
‘I am so looking forward to the release of The Paris Time-Capsule. Ella Carey is one of the most talented writers I have ever worked with. Roll on release day!’ Melanie Milburne, USA Today best selling author.
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