Please welcome Ella Carey
to the blog today!!
Ella Carey’s novel ‘The Paris Time Capsule’ is fictional, but inspired by the incredible true story
of an apartment in Paris that was abandoned for seventy years … but how does working around a true story affect the writing process?
I think the answer lies in that very word: ‘truth.’ The main consideration for me as a writer was to ensure that I respected the original story, and that even though my novel is a work of fiction, I still wrote with a sense of truthfulness in mind.
I will come back to that later, but, for now, let me tell you about the abandoned apartment in Paris that inspired ‘The Paris Time Capsule.’ The story was reported in online articles, and then in hundreds of online blogs.
A woman died in the south of France in 2010, but it wasn’t until after her death that the heir
s to her estate discovered that she owned an apartment in Paris that had been abandoned for seventy years. The woman, who was only known as ‘Madame de Florian’ (she became Isabelle de Florian in my novel), fled from Paris on the eve of the Nazi invasion in 1940 but never returned.
Now, this abandoned apartment was not your usual flat. It was filled with the sorts of exotic treasures from the Belle Epoque that would make specialists gasp, and leave the rest of us in shock. The assessors said it was like walking into Sleeping Beauty’s apartment when they first entered.
But that was not all. There was a stunning portrait in the apartment of a woman in a pink dress, her head turned to the side, almost as if she were throwing herself out of her own portrait. Art experts were called in. They discovered after reading love letters that were found in the apartment, that the painting was by none other than leading Belle Epoque art expert Giovanni Boldini. The woman in the painting was identified as Marthe de Florian, a famous courtesan, or demimondaine. Marthe was the owner’s grandmother and the previous owner of the apartment.
But, the question still remained unanswered. Why did the owner of the apartment never return to Paris? Why did she keep it a secret for seventy years?
I was working on a novel about a mystery surrounding valuable art when I read about this story. My novel involved a love story, and a family that had been torn apart. But I adore Paris. I speak French; I love history and art. I abandoned my previous novel, and started researching this.
The process involved much research, of course it did. In fact, at one point in the novel, it seemed as if I was double-checking every word on the page.
But the one thing that I had to bear in mind, the one thing that I wanted to do above everything else, was to write something plausible. The last thing I wanted to do was write anything that appeared contrived. My story had to seem real to my readers, it had to feel just as real as the incredible story of the woman who left her famous ancestor’s past buried in dust for seventy years.
Here is the blurb for ‘The Paris Time Capsule:’
New York photographer Cat Jordan has fought hard to free herself from the past, but when a stranger dies, Cat finds herself the sole inheritor of a treasure filled apartment in Paris that has been locked up and abandoned for seventy years.
A stash of love letters belonging to Marthe de Florian, one of the Belle Époque’s most famous demimondaines, and the appearance of the mysterious and beautiful Isabelle de Florian’s grandson leads Cat in search of the reasons why Isabelle kept her Paris apartment a secret, and why she left her entire estate to Cat.
As Cat unravels the story, she too begins her own journey, realizing that the secrets in the apartment may finally unlock the future.
Now, can you tell me if a true story has sparked your imagination?
That's an awesome story! Truly amazing. I think for me it's more bits and pieces of the real world that blend together to form a new whole. But one day I'd like to try something like this! Definitely fun! What do you think??