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Authors: Michelle Shine


BOOK: Mesmerised
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A long time ago, Michelle Shine arranged travel for Peter Gabriel, Spandau Ballet, Boy George, Phillip Green and other famous names. Then in 1989 after the miraculous cure of her eldest son’s epilepsy and allergic colitis by homeopathy, she was compelled to find out more about the medicine that the German pharmacist Samuel Hahnemann discovered in the very late 18

In 1993 she graduated from the College of Homeopathy in Regent’s Park, London and embarked on a career, spanning twenty years, as a homeopath in North West London. When her husband died suddenly and tragically at
fifty-eight she gave up her practice to write full time. The result is
her first full-length novel.

Michelle Shine is the author of
What About the Potency?
A homeopathic textbook now in its third edition and
The Subtle Art of Healing,
a novella which was long listed for the Cinnamon Press Novella Award in 2007. Her short stories have appeared in
Grey Sparrow, Liar’s League, Epiphany
Lover’s Lies
The Book of Euclid
. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck University, and is the mother of three grown-up children.






















Indigo Dreams Publishing


First Edition: Mesmerised


First published in Great Britain in 2013 by:

Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd

24 Forest Houses

Cookworthy Moor



EX21 5UU


Michelle Shine
has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

©2013 Michelle Shine


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

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced,

in a retrieval system, or transmitted at any time or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without

prior permission of the copyright holder.


Mesmerised is a work of fiction.


Cover design by Ronnie Goodyer at Indigo Dreams

Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Édouard Manet









This story is a work of fiction where real events and people are intertwined with characters and happenings that are born solely of my imagination.


All the artists mentioned, their families, the
Academie Suisse, Père Tanguy, Doctor Charcot, Georges de Bellio, and Blanche Castets really existed.


Victorine's letter resides in the Adolphe Tabarant archive at The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. MA 3950. 


Many of the homes, workplaces, and cafés have authentic addresses. Le Salon des Refusés really happened and the revelations of Edouard Manet’s life and death are well documented.


Doctor Gachet did save Alfred Pissaro’s life with homeopathy, and was called in to try and help Edouard Manet on his deathbed.


The London cholera statistics have been taken from the NHS, UCLH website.


Any mistakes that might be contained in this book are my own.











To the man of my dreams

Jon Shine



my beautiful children,

Matthew, Rebecca and Daniel











My gratitude goes to the lovely Nomads, my writing group who were instrumental in encouraging me to start the novel and continue it – Sarah Peak, Charlie Fish, Beth Cordingly, Helen Bain,Felix Harrison, Anna Baggaley, Deirdre Shannon, Skye Sherwin and Laura Allsop. And my early readers: Sue Young, Liz Shine, Elaine Ratner and Stacey Bernie. I’m indebted to the lovely people who worked in Paul Gachet’s house in Auvers sur Oise, and spoke to me at length about his life, but whose names were sadly swallowed by a house fire. Also, Anna Cassale, Howard Robin, Lisa Goll and Louisa Dreisin for their good advice and having faith in me as a writer. David Ratner for being a great dad. Clive Goldman for helping me to retrieve
from a burnt-out computer after the fire in my home. Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling for picking up this manuscript and wanting to run with it. John Griffiths, my editor. Caroline True for the flattering photograph. Sophie Lewis and Ruth Kaye for ideas for the front cover. Malcolm Sevren, Keith Woolf, Raymond Stoltzman, Gary Rose and Gary Bobbe, for much need help, advice and friendship at a very difficult time. Renee Rose for picking up the baton. Kate Bush, a huge source of inspiration, always. And Teodora Berglund and Elizabeth Adalian, for their passion, creativity and promotion.


Thank you.





January 1863


I buy
pure phosphorus from an old alchemist who lives in a slanted house on the hill that leads to Montmartre. His wife, Madame Armand, has a small plot of land where she grows vegetables and flowers to sell at the market. Many of the brown bottles in my collection contain fluids that were distilled from her produce.

In Monsieur Armand’s laboratory, in the middle of the afternoon, all shutters remain closed. Thin streams of light trespass and fall in diagonal lines across glass vessels. Tubes lead from one to the other in a world of liquids that bubble and fizz.

‘This is a very combustible material.’ Leaning on his stick, he licks his lips, wrinkles deepening in concentration under strands of white hair.

‘Monsieur Armand, I really appreciate this. I know
that you originally acquired the substance for yourself.’

‘Shh, say no more,
’ he says, his free hand at my back.

baby cries.

‘That’s Madeleine, my grandchild,’ he says, eyes lit. ‘
What are you going to do with the phosphorus?’

‘I’m going to make a homeopathic remedy.’

‘What’s that?’ He pulls down a book from a splintery shelf behind him. Dust puffs into the air like face powder in a thespian’s dressing room.

‘No,’ he says,
opening the leather-bound and gilt-edged tome. ‘It’s not mentioned here. And therefore …’ He claps the pages shut using the outer cover, ‘… it does not exist.’





Moving Home

March 20th


‘It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling.’

Edouard Manet


It is 7
o’clock in the evening and deceitfully dark. I sit on a crate in the centre of the main room in my new apartment in rue Faubourg Saint Denis. I face two large windows which look out upon a full moon that throws a white smudge at my feet. Inside, there is no light. The fireplace is silent in its unlit state. My greatcoat hangs on a hook behind the door wearing a lunar streak. I don’t feel cold inside although my feet are numb and when I touch my cheek with my fingers they are shockingly cold. The warmth in my chest brings me comfort. This room is embracing me.

There’s the clip-clop of horse
s’ hooves, neighing, the closing of carriage doors and the voices of easily affronted Parisians three stories below. My heart lurches with my good fortune, for this is a great room. The walls are high, luminous, practically begging for art to adorn them. My desk, which seemed so large and cumbersome at my last address in rue Montholon, proudly occupies less than one third of the space, and is tucked away at one end. I imagine receiving patients here, putting chairs out in the hallway where they can wait. I will make the alcove into a kitchen/dispensary for my medicine. But not only that, this room is conducive to artistry. The light is good. It is where I shall paint.

I will store my easel and my canvases in th
e cupboard in the small lobby leading to the bedroom, through the door to the right of the fireplace.

I shall be happy here.

A knock on the door jolts me from my thoughts. Without thinking to light a gas lamp or candle, I jump up.

‘Who is it?’ I call through the door.

‘Victorine Meurent.’

Releasing the shiny new brass chain
, I let her in.

my dear friend Paul,’ she greets me. ‘It’s very dark. I wouldn’t have thought you were a man who was into séance,’ she says, bounding in and stopping short only a few steps beyond the threshold. She looks back at me.

‘Victorine,’ I tell her
, ‘your vivid imagination influences you. I’ve just moved in. I’ve been sitting on that crate contemplating my new direction and inwardly celebrating. Let me bring some light to the situation.’ I rub my cold hands on my trouser legs and hunt blindly through packing boxes for matches, which I eventually find. I strike one and the phosphorus glows bright like the sun, dying as I spark up the gas lamps by their brass cords.

‘I’ve come to ask you when it would be a convenient time to call. I knew that it wouldn’t be now, but Camille gave me your new address and I’m desperate to see you professionally, so I thought I would stop by in passing just to ask you this question,’ she says, her body as composed as
Savoldo’s Mary Magdalene, silver caped and waiting on a hillside wall above the port in Old Jerusalem.

‘Forgive me if I don’t ask you what the matter is right away,’ I say
, indicating with my arms the bareness of the space around me.

‘It’s the usual.’


Victorine is
a city girl who like so many others, lives on her wits, but she has a talent for life and there is very little that she cannot do.

‘I’m not unpacked yet. You’ll have to come bac
k tomorrow at around eleven. I will have what you want to hand.’

‘Paul, you’re wonderful,’ she tells me with her palms at my shoulders and her red lipstick making imprints on my cheeks, as usual.

She leaves me alone again. Immediately, I extinguish the light and look around, re-focusing. Perhaps Victorine is on the street looking up, finding me odd to desire darkness in this way. I pick up the matches left on the mantel and strike a bulbous head against the grainy stone fireplace. Immediately it flares white gold and blinding. Phosphorescent. What is to be learned? I do this three more times then retire to bed.

BOOK: Mesmerised
11.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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