LOOKING AT WHAT GOES ON UNDER THE CLOTHES
the book: Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys
She heads out to the swimming pool. It is one of those fresh, clear Riviera days when the world seems to be retouched in Technicolour, the sky the rich blue of cornflower petals, the green of the laurel bush leaves as vibrant as the jewel in the ring Bernard gave her, which she now wears on her finger as a constant reminder of the answers she still seeks.
Sitting down on a wooden steamer, she breathes it all in as if she might somehow absorb it, down through her airways and into her lungs, until it is a part of who and what she is.
She looks at the great expanse of sea, studded with the nodding black dots of the yachts and the fishing boats; at the low smudge of Cap Ferrat across the water to her left, and beyond it the mauve tips of the Maritime Alps…
By the time she dives into the pool, every nerve bursting into life at that moment of impact when her body hits the cool water, she is feeling greatly cheered and full of equanimity.
commentary: Fatal Inheritance has the best wish-fulfilment/Cinderella opening setup that you could ever wish for.
Eve Forrester is stuck in a miserable marriage in London in 1948: there is no excitement or real interest in her life, and post-war rationing is all-pervading. But then, she gets a letter from a solicitor: she has unexpectedly been left a legacy from someone she has never heard of, and she has to go to the South of France to find out more. She sets off (doubtful though her dreary husband is about the whole thing), intending to stay only a couple of days to sort out the matter.
she will stay longer than that….The book is not designed to be about miserable London.
Like a black and white movie turning into colour, she is transported to the south of France – all blues and sunshine and beauty and apparently no restraints on the finer things of life.
Well, how enticing is that?
Of course the legacy is a mystery to everyone else too: Guy Lester died before explaining his will, and his family is furious that Eve has inherited a quarter share in a villa on the Riviera. They are anxious to sell the villa, and they are torn between spending their time fighting with each other and their various friends and hangers-on, and belittling and being mean to Eve.
It’s a full day on the Mediterranean coast.
Then there are dramatic glamorous parties in the evening where all these activities can continue, and there is a beautiful filmstar, with an upcoming marriage, a famous American writer, people taking drugs and drinking too much, and various hints of the wartime past.
Eve is an excellent heroine, naïve and self-conscious, but also determined and firm: she insists on coming to stay in the disputed villa, and she tries her best to find out what is going on.
She thinks of the master bedroom upstairs. The vast empty bed and the windows thrown open so the only view is the sky and the sea stretching away towards Africa. Then she thinks of her room at home, of Clifford. What if this is her one chance to be somewhere as beautiful as this, her one chance to find out why she is here?This is the perfect holiday read.
And of course there are excellent clothes in the book – though I did wonder how Eve managed on the few items she brought with her? This is mentioned once, then ignored…
In the end I decided to go for the beachwear, having found all these wonderful pictures from 1948, along with the admirable book cover. Woman in the pool, palm tree pic, white outfit, shorts on the beach – all from Kristine’s photostream.