Related collections and offers
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
From the butcher to the ba ker to the café tabac, word spread through the village of Vaucresson that Monsieur Jean-Paul Bernard had moved a woman into the house he had ever so recently shared with his wife, Marian. Such a lovely woman, the deceased Marian, the butcher offered with a sad shake of his head, gone so young and so suddenly. The customer he was waiting on, a prosperous-looking matron wearing sensible yet somehow stylish shoes, shook her head in sad agreement. Poor Monsieur Bernard, oui? Left to raise their boy alone.
The next person in line, a similarly carefully yet casually groomed young woman with a toddler by the hand, paused for a respectful moment as an expression of sorrow over either the unexpected loss of Madame Bernard or the swiftness with which Monsieur Bernard had replaced her; I couldn’t tell which. When she finished her reverie, she said, “If something happened to me, I hate to think how quickly my Hubert would be looking about for someone to replace me.”
“More to the point, Madame,” offered the butcher’s assistant as she slapped my fat roasting hen onto the scale, “if something happened to your Hubert, how soon before you would find an excuse to call on Monsieur Bernard yourself?”
“Oh-là-là.” The woman smiled as she offered a coquettish little shrug. “Monsieur Bernard, now there’s a catch, oui?”
Next door, at the boulangerie, while the baker cut a wedge for me from a massive multi-grain poulaine loaf, I overheard another customer tell the baker’s wife that a friend had seen a large delivery truck in Monsieur Bernard’s driveway just the day before yesterday. Box after box the driver and his assistant had carried in. This new woman, whoever she was, was certainly wasting no time asserting herself as châtelaine of the Bernard household was she? She’d probably already cleared away anything left to remind poor Monsieur Bernard of his wonderful wife.
An outsider, I seemed to be invisible among the shoppers as they discussed Monsieur Bernard’s apparent change in status. That morning, after the commuters exited toward Paris, the people out loose in the village were, for the most part, older men and women and young mothers or nannies with little ones in tow. They all seemed to be familiar with each other and the shop keepers, and they all seemed to have fond memories of the late Madame Marian Bernard. In shop after shop, I heard echoes of the same refrain: Such a shame, such a shame, such a shame.