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Authors: Rachel Hore

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A Week in Paris

BOOK: A Week in Paris
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Rachel Hore worked in London publishing for many years before moving with her family to Norwich, where she teaches publishing and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is married to the writer D. J. Taylor and they have three sons.

Her previous novels are
The Dream House
The Memory Garden
The Glass Painter’s Daughter
, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Romantic Novel of the Year award,
A Place of Secrets
, which was picked by Richard and Judy for their book club,
A Gathering Storm
, which was shortlisted for the RONA Historical Novel of the Year 2012, and the latest bestseller,
The Silent Tide

Praise for
The Silent Tide

‘Compelling, engrossing and moving; a perfect holiday indulgence’

Santa Montefiore

‘Engrossing and romantic, it’s a wonderful story of family secrets and the choices women make’

Jane Thynne, author of
Black Roses

Praise for
A Gathering Storm

‘With a serious eye for exquisite detail, Hore’s latest, brilliantly crafted novel aptly follows a photographer, Lucy. She takes a journey to capture past, life-changing family secrets, embracing three generations along the way, across Cornwall, London, East Anglia and Occupied France’


Praise for
A Place of Secrets

‘A fascinating, hugely readable book . . . Rachel Hore’s research and her mastery of the subject is deeply impressive’

Judy Finnigan

Praise for
The Glass Painter’s Daughter

‘Another of this year’s top offerings’

Daily Mail

Praise for
The Memory Garden

‘Pitched perfectly for a holiday read’


Praise for
The Dream House

‘A beautifully written and magical novel’

Cathy Kelly

First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2014

Copyright © Rachel Hore 2014

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc.
All rights reserved.

The right of Rachel Hore to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

PB ISBN: 978-1-47113-076-2
EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-47113-077-9

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by M Rules
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

For Juliet and Victoria


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Author’s Note



November 1944

Derbyshire, England

She was a scrappy wisp of a girl who lived with forty-three other children in a large ugly house on the edge of a country town. The meagre grounds of Blackdyke House were covered not with grass, but with gravel, and enclosed by a wooden paling fence because the original wrought iron had gone for scrap. The orphanage had been evacuated here from London, but that was long before the girl had arrived. Her mind refused to contemplate the past. She’d blotted it out. So far as she was concerned, she might always have lived at Blackdyke House. Perhaps she always would.

The dark-panelled walls inside were studded with gloomy portraits whose eyes seemed to follow her as she walked in line with the other children from dormitory to refectory, from refectory to schoolroom. In the entrance hall hung the painting she feared most of all. It showed a row of dead rabbits and birds nailed to a beam. The glazed eyes and the trickles of dried blood that ran down their bodies had been executed with deft brushstrokes, as though the artist had taken pleasure in the task. She would hurry past it without looking, but still she could sense it there.

The town was near an airfield, and whenever planes roared overhead she would run to hide in a cupboard or under a bed, where she lay curled up, her small body taut with terror, until they’d passed. Some of the older children teased her about being afraid of their own planes, but she couldn’t help her reaction. And she didn’t explain because she couldn’t speak.

The nurses at the orphanage were not uncaring. They simply did as Matron said: ‘Treat the children equally, be kind but firm, don’t get too close.’ Some of their charges were grieving, several had lost both parents in terrible circumstances, but Matron believed that a strict routine should settle them: good plain food, fresh air, church twice on Sundays. A list of rules was displayed on a board outside Matron’s office, opposite the picture of the dead creatures. At five years old the girl could not read all the words, but she knew each rule began with the same instruction:

The number of children in the orphanage wasn’t always forty-four. Sometimes a relative would come to claim one. Sometimes there would be a new face: sad and bewildered, or angry and desperate. Never anything to cause Matron to deviate from her routine.

And every now and then there would be a viewing. A married couple might come to inspect the children and perhaps pick one out. For adoption, was the awed whisper. The children knew about adoption – it meant being given a new mother and father to replace the old ones. Most of the children longed to be adopted, to have somewhere to belong. Yet she noticed the doubtful expressions of some who were chosen. Not all the prospective parents looked kind.

She wanted to belong somewhere, but nobody ever chose her. Most of the couples picked babies or toddlers, and those willing to take an older child certainly didn’t want a girl who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – speak. That might be storing up all kinds of trouble.

So she lived her life day by day, unable to mourn the past she’d suppressed or to hope for the future. She wasn’t unhappy, exactly. Rather, her heart had frozen up inside. Only in sleep did she know deep happiness or sorrow. Sometimes her dreams were full of noise or fear or simply laced with loneliness.

There were some nights, however, that she dreamed of someone singing to her in a soft low voice, a woman’s voice. A woman with a lovely face and gentle hands. And after such a dream she would wake to find her pillow streaked with tears.

Chapter 1

March 1956


Fay pushed open the heavy door and followed the other girls into the soft gloom of the interior. The air hung heavy with incense and it took a moment to adjust to the whispering darkness and the vastness of the space. On either side of the nave, a line of arches undulated towards a light-filled area before the altar. High overhead soared a vaulted ceiling. It was all breathtakingly beautiful.

‘Gather round, girls!’ Miss Edwards’ well-bred English tones summoning her sixth-formers sounded distant and dreamlike. Fay crossed the chequered floor, and lingered at the edge of the group in time to hear her say, ‘Notre Dame is French for what? Our Lady, that’s right, Evelyn. A masterpiece of gothic architecture, and the heart and soul of Paris for centuries. The cathedral is built on the site of . . .’ but Fay was hardly listening.

Her attention was attracted instead by a row of stained-glass windows. She edged sideways to contemplate them more clearly. Each was a patchwork of glowing colours with rich, sensuous names.
, she said to herself.
Imperial purple, indigo, lapis lazuli
. Far from being overwhelmed by the darkness of the church, the colours shone out, their beauty enhanced by it. She was pondering the significance of light shining out of darkness when Miss Edwards said, ‘Fay, dear, are you still with us?’ which brought her out of her reverie.

‘Sorry,’ she mumbled. After that she did her best to keep up.

When they reached the open space before the choir stalls and the altar, the girls loitered, pointing in wonder at the great rose windows floating high above the transepts on either side, bathing everything in jewelled light. Even Margaret, usually bored by sightseeing and culture, spread her arms to admire the rainbow on her coat. ‘Golly,’ she managed to muster, her bold eyes softened with delight. ‘

Fay smiled at this, but as she glanced about, half-listening to Miss Edwards, she felt troubled. The more she tried to catch at her unease, the stronger it became. It meant something to her, this place – and yet how could it? She’d never been here before. This school trip was her first time in Paris. She knew it was.

Later they explored the aisle that curved round behind the altar, and stopped to peep into some of the prayer chapels that fringed the outside walls. Fay and Evelyn liked an altar where there was a carving of the Virgin Mary cradling the dearest Baby Jesus, who reached out a dimpled hand. Evelyn insisted on lighting a votive candle there, but Margaret hung back, more interested in a group of boys in striped blazers who were milling about outside.

‘Aren’t they with us?’ she whispered to Fay.

‘I think so.’ She recognized one, a tall slender lad with butter-coloured hair that gleamed like a choirboy’s in the dimness, remembering him from the Channel ferry. She’d been going up on deck to get some air and had met him coming the other way down the narrow stairway. He’d smiled as he’d held back to let her pass.

The girls were leaving the chapel when it happened. From somewhere high in the building a bell began to toll with a sound so deep and grave that the very air vibrated. Fay clapped her hands over her ears to shut out the sound, but on and on it rang. She couldn’t breathe. She needed to get out. Turning, she ran blindly. And barged straight into someone. A hand gripped her arm. ‘Whoa!’ the someone said softly.

She looked up to see the blond boy. ‘Sorry,’ she gasped wildly, but allowed him to steady her.

As suddenly as it had begun, the ringing stopped. As the echoes died, her panic, too, ebbed away.

‘Are you all right?’ the boy asked in his clear, cultured voice. He released her and she stepped back, hardly daring to look at him properly. His forehead was crinkled in a frown. Such an expressive face he had, the dark eyes full of concern.

BOOK: A Week in Paris
11.25Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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