My editor, Iris Tupholme at HarperCollins Canada, likes my 5th draft of This Bright Darkness (working title) “very much.”
You can imagine how relieved and happy I feel.
This time, when I submitted the manuscript, I included a description — the type of thing a reader might read on the cover flap. It’s a draft, and too long, but here it is:
This Bright Darkness
When a maid’s duties include a lot more than making up the bed . . .
This Bright Darkness is a work of fiction inspired by the real life of a maid: Claude des Oeillets. The daughter of itinerant actors and therefore impoverished and socially scorned, she nevertheless rises to become the confidential attendant to the most powerful woman in the 17th century French court of the Sun King: Madame de Montespan, mistress of the charismatic king. However, in Claude’s so-called “respectable” position, she is required to obtain love potions and other magical charms as well as occasionally satisfy the king’s sexual needs (thereby bearing him a daughter).
Claude’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set: in the First Act, she’s the starving child of a family of caravan players, devoted to tending her beloved “half-wit” baby brother; in the Second, she’s with the greats of French theatre — Pierre Corneille, Molière, Racine — witnessing her mother’s amazing rise to stardom in the fantastical (but cut-throat) world of the 17th century French stage; in the Third, she’s front and center in the dazzling world of the charismatic Sun King.
Insinuating herself throughout the worlds of both the theatre and Court is the witch Catherine Voisin, sometimes benevolent and kind, but ultimately ruthless, a woman willing to sacrifice innocent lives in order to satisfy the corrupt desires of her wealthy clients. A woman who ultimately pays for her sins on the pyre — but not without exposing the rot at the heart of these glittering worlds.
Claude rises from poverty to a position of power and influence because she is loyal and can be trusted, a vow she made as a teen to her father — but as the mercurial Montespan becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King’s sexual favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claude must choose between betraying a trust or doing the right thing — an act which will put her own life at risk, as well as the lives of those she loves dearest.
What do you think? Edits welcome!