Fortune Telling: Death, the House of God and the French Revolution
The Right Honourable Miss Moppet, heroine of the Misadventures of same name, has a post on the deleted chapter of Mistress of the Revolution. Not only that, but Miss Moppet puts my own Gabrielle in the company of Sergeanne Golon’s Angélique, Sandra Gulland’s Joséphine B, and Françoise Chandernagor’s Madame de Maintenon in the magnificent L’allée du roi (The King’s Way in the – deliberately and shamefully incomplete – English translation). I am honored and humbled.
This deleted chapter was one of my first blog posts. By the way, I like to think of a writer’s blog as a “Bonus Material” DVD on steroids. I can show you all I had to cut, discuss my characters, give you background information. I could dig out other deleted chapters, come to think of it. Oh well, we’ll see.
I digress… Back to Gabrielle’s tarot reading. I wrote at the time of the publication of Mistress that I did not regret editing it out. Neither do I now. I don’t in the least regret having written it, though. Sometimes writers write things for their own selfish enjoyment, and they are, like anyone else, allowed to have fun. This doesn’t mean that the passage in question “worked” with the rest of the book. Foreshadowing is a wonderful narrative trick, it builds a sense of anticipation, projects the reader forward into the story, but it has to be used sparingly, deftly. In this passage I had crossed the line.
So only the Knight of Swords made it to the final version. Now in the published novel, the cook remembers the tarot reading one year later and says, speaking of certain young physician Gabrielle has met: “He’s clever and resolute. He speaks well. He commands attention wherever he goes. But he can be arrogant,even cruel. Remember what I told you about the Knight: he spells doom for his enemies, and God knows he has many. And remember how he wields his sword, the sword of justice? He will show his foes no mercy, and receive none.”
Was Josephine right? Soothsayers often are in novels…