What was it that left him unwilling to swim? Surely he had not forgotten the urgency which had carried him across the lake, instant, unseen, the same carrion sense he had gasped on the return journey, leaning at the front of the ferry with strained, incomplete breaths pulsing, shivering? Cristina then, and Cristina now, her strangling beauty, love like currency or language, and yet he did not feel like swimming for her.
Tricky things, blurbs – you have 250 words on the back of the book to convince someone to part with their money. Some take months refining these words, drafting, editing and revising them until they can’t remember what they started with, or why.
As an example:
In Evian, on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lucy sells tickets at the cinema. In the hills above the water her brother believes himself happily married to a woman he once tried to find by swimming across the lake. Their childhood friend, Fabrice, is returning from the quiet confusion of Canadian trees and the brief memory of his girlfriend in Toronto. Into this relative stillness comes Alain, escaping Geneva’s necessity of human contact. But when he and Lucy begin a relationship it forces them all to reconsider the ways in which they try to talk to each other.
To the songs of Jacques Brel, and with the lake as a constant presence, Lucy, her brother Jean-Luc and Fabrice struggle to make themselves heard amongst the clamour of failing words and misconceptions, leading to potential crises for them all. This interwoven story of love, family and our inability to make ourselves understood leaves you wondering if language can ever be more than guesswork, and if so whether anyone can ever be heard. And for Alain, tangled somewhere in the middle, “Lakes, of course, are pointless.”
184 words. Three weeks, 20-plus versions, discussions, edits, undone edits, rewrites. The simple question is this: would you buy this novel?