Susie Vereker writes about some of the influences that led her to write Pond Lane and Paris.

Thinking back about the inspirations for my novel Pond Lane and Paris, it occurs to me there were several.

Firstly I was inspired by a friend, a charming woman in her late forties, who looked after her invalid husband but saw very few other people. They were isolated in their own little world and she devoted herself to him. Then, when he suddenly died, she was devastated. He had been her life and her work, and now she had to face the world alone, as my character Laura does.

After finishing the book, I myself was widowed relatively young. When I was able to write again – and it was quite a while – I found that I didn’t need to change much about Laura’s outlook on life.

Another inspiration was Jane Eyre. Laura isn’t anything like Jane, except in that she is patient and practical. It was more that I wanted to capture some of the strengths and weaknesses of a modern Mr Rochester. Alpha males are attractive but they aren’t that easy to live with, I reckon! The only present day employer who might need a governess or minder for his teenage daughter was someone like a divorced ambassador. Easy for me because I understand the diplomatic background having been married to it for thirty-five years.

Then there is France. A wonderful place to set a story – I’m writing another book with a Paris background. I love it and have some good French friends. Of course Laura’s Paris is very much a staid diplomatic one. She doesn’t get to let her hair down at first, that’s her problem. She’s led rather a restricted life in the last few years. Unlike my character Kiki, an American Mrs Robinson figure who is far from staid. Laura’s friend lovely alcoholic Melanie isn’t too prim either.

Of course I’m also preoccupied with the subject of moving on. Having been all over the world with my late husband, I’m something of an expert on change and its effects. I felt a lot better about my grumpy moods in a new place when I learnt the American phrase ‘relocation stress’!

Laura is nicer and more efficient than I am, and she copes with culture shock in her own way. She also learns to become less self-sacrificing. That’s a problem for many women, I think.

Pond Lane and Paris is a novel written with a light touch, though it concerns some serious subjects. I do hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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