Goddess: extract

Would you like a sneak peek at Goddess?

I’ve spent more than four years researching Julie d’Aubigny’s life and hearing her voice in my head.

Now I hand her over to you. Here’s a snippet:

Did they warn you about me, Father, before they pushed you through that door? Have you heard all the gossip–in the cloisters, in the kitchens, all over Provence? I know what they’re saying. I know what you’re thinking, too. The oldest story of all–scarlet woman turns her face from sin at the end of her days, takes the veil, finds humility and salvation.

Pig’s arse.

I’m sorry to disappoint you but I’m not really a nun. I’m only here for my health–fat lot of good it’s done me. So this won’t be a nun’s Confession you hear. If I can get up out of this damned–sorry, Father–this bed, I’ll go to Mass, like everyone, but for the beauty of it, the wonder–for that moment, when they hold the chalice aloft, of connection with Heaven. For the drama of it, you might say.

That’s the point, isn’t it? Otherwise nobody would bother, surely, week in and week out. Don’t scoff at me like I’m some kind of heretic. We all need a little music in our lives, the touch of tragédie–mysteries and soaring voices and a shot of sunlight through blue glass. It’s a spectacle, more like the old days at the Palais-Royal than you’d care to admit, Father–a reflection of the moment the orchestra begins to tune up and the house falls silent, ready to believe anything that happens on that stage. There’s magic in it, in the ritual and the riches, that I love. It has nothing, unfortunately, to do with faith.

That’s why I like it here. It’s comforting. My city friends would laugh their hats off if they heard me say that. If I could laugh myself, without coughing up my entrails, I would.

Here in this white cell I have found comfort. A chair. A bed. Treetops through a high window. Bells calling everyone to Vespers. The soft sounds of sweeping…

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