It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome the uber-talented Hemmie Martin to the Chimera “studio” today …..
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Alice Calwin finds herself without purpose in life after the death of her mother, whom she’d been caring for following a stroke. Theo Edwards, a literary journalist, has a sour outlook on life, bolstered by his ongoing divorce, and is feeling the pressure to revitalise his column in the newspaper. They encounter one another at a writers’ retreat in France, but Alice’s shameful past and Theo’s deceptive reasons for being there end up affecting them both in very different ways. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends?
My Top Five Scenes in Garlic & Gauloises
This has been a tricky post to answer, as some of the scenes that touched me the most would spoil the story for the reader, so I’ve refrained from mentioning them. However, I have managed to find other scenes I am able to discuss without leaking any spoilers into this post.
- I love the beginning of the novel where we find the protagonist, Alice in her flat after saying her final farewell to her mother. The claustrophobic atmosphere in the flat feels dense with the lingering aroma of lavender; her mother’s favourite scent. Nothing in the flat echoes Alice’s personality bar the plethora of books, and the laptop on the kitchen table, screaming her endeavours to be an aspiring author.
- This is cheating, I know, but I would like to clump all of Theo’s newspaper columns together to form a ‘scene’. These were such fun to write as Theo is very scathing and judgmental of people he deems beneath him, which allowed me to be rude and condescending, which I believe I’m not in reality. He gives a pseudonym to each member of the group for discretion, then proceeds to mock their attempts at writing and aspiring to be published authors. The columns are well received, encouraging him to continue in the same damning vein.
- The next scene also involves Theo with his ex-wife, Joanna, and their son, Justin. Joanna asks Theo to go to their marital home to discuss Justin’s failing studies at university. Justin blocked Theo from his life after the divorce, so there’s an uneasy, stilted relationship between them both now. Theo finds returning to his old home sobering, and the guilt at what he did to Joanna and Justin still gnaws away at his subconscious. However, the row that ensues reminds him of his dissatisfaction in the marriage, and what prompted him to leave the way he did. Writing troubled young adults, and warring ex-couples is always a joy to write.
- Another of my favourite scenes is when everyone arrives at the chateaux. We are introduced to the melange of people who would probably never meet outside of the writers group. There are three men, including Theo, and four women, one being Alice, along with two older women who are new to the writing scene, and good friends exploring new hobbies in later life. They all have reasons for being on the retreat, and not always to do with writing.
- The last scene I’m going to choose is the café scene, where Alice and Theo spend their moments together, away from the prying eyes of the group. This is where Theo is reacquainted with the French cigarettes, Gauloises. The wine flows, removing Alice’s inhibitions, allowing her to immerse herself in the French way of life, and drop her guard with Theo.
Title: Garlic & Gauloises
Author: Hemmie Martin
Release Date: 11th December 2015
Publisher: Winter Goose Publishing
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28140205-garlic-gauloises
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/194105837X
Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.
Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.