Monday, 26 October 2015

Houses As Inspiration

 Houses can  be very inspiring.They can sometimes become characters in fiction. I think of my favourite Daphne Du Maurier’s Manderley. My own Victorian house has featured - in disguise  - in several of my novels. My novel The Lavender House was inspired by a very unusual house in North London, And my novel Writing at the Maison Bleue was set in a
house inspired by a house I know very well in Agde France.

In Paperback 

And on Kindle 

So I was delighted when my friend Kathleen Jones emailed me about a poem saying 'I came across this poem in the Poetry Review (summer issue I've only just opened!)  and immediately thought of you.  It has a lovely, elegiac feel and resonates with your novel.  So I thought I'd send it.'

 So for you, here is an extract from Graham Mort’s Poem. (Read all of it in The summer issue of The Poetry Review).

La Maison Bleue

Before I died, we rented a blue house
on a narrow street that twisted down 
to a river bridge's leaping arch.

The house had photographs of a family 
just like mine: the parents happy back 
in time, looking sideways to the future,

© Graham Mort (See link below)

You can read all of this great poem in the Summer Issue of the Poetry Review.

And here, from Writing at the Maison Bleue, is the first time Francine sees  my own  Maison Bleue:


... The Maison Bleue is half massive old stone and half rendered, peeling plaster; its garden sprawls down to plane trees that line the Canal du Midi. The window shutters are pale blue, framed in dusty white. There are nine windows – two on each side of the door on the ground floor, two on the first and second floors and one at the top under the white-painted arch of the roof. All of them, even the small one at the top, have narrow balconies. On the rendered walls the pale blue paint is dusty and peeling and quilted with dozens of cracks, gauzy as spider’s webs…
        When we reach the old woman’s salon it’s completely bare except for one great armoire with glittering mirrored doors and a long narrow buffet table against a wall.  Thick curtains seal out the sun. My nose itches with the faint smell of disinfectant covering something much worse: something to do with age and failing senses. The walls, though, are newly painted in a white that’s slightly off, like the skin on top of milk that’s been boiled and left.  
         Aurélie  flicks a switch, flooding the room with cold, white light.  She nods with such vigour that a strand of hair escapes from her severe chignon. ‘Electricity.’ she beams, ‘thanks to those Boches who stole this place in the war. Still works. That’s something, is it not, whatever other nasty things happened here in those days?’ She sets about opening all the tall windows and the clean warm air of the morning seeps into the room, chasing away the foetid evidence of its last occupant.
We check out the other large salon and move onto the big square kitchen with its two great dressers, its one square Formica topped table, its one small stove, something begins to gnaw away at me, like hunger at the pit of your stomach. I am hungry for this house. Hungry! Just as once I was hungry for the Foxe house.
          As I walk around I begin to realise that only the very big armoires, the great wardrobes and tables - all too heavy to move, too big to sell - are left. The intricate detritus of the old woman’s daily life is  gone.  I am disappointed. ‘Everything else has gone?’ I say...

Question: Do you have a house that inspires you? Let me know 

Links :

Find Kathleen HERE
Find Graham  Mort's Poem  HERE
'Graham Mort’s eighth collection Cusp is a rich, visceral tour-de-force that rides the cusps of life and death, animal and human, love and hate, winter and spring with the ambition and craft of someone engraving a razors edge...'
Find The Poetry Review HERE

Find Writing at the Maison Bleue HERE/


  1. Lovely parallel Wendy! I can't help feeling that it might be the same house you've both rented . . .

    1. That would be spookily wonderful wouldn't it??? wx



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