Een nieuwe roman: De engel van Kensington.

Meer informatie over De engel van Kensington is te vinden op de speciale pagina op deze site.

Enige tijd geleden ben ik begonnen aan het onderzoek voor mijn volgende roman. Inmiddels is er mij zoveel bekend over de hoofdpersoon en met name over welke perioden in haar leven niet meer geschiedkundig kunnen worden gerecontrueerd dat ik op basis van die informatie vandaag toch maar begonnen ben met schrijven. ‘De engel van Kensington’ zal deze zomer worden geschreven en mogelijk dit jaar gereed zijn.

Synopsis (versie Mei 2012)

Mary Lloyd (door sommige van haar opdrachtgevers en vrienden Molly genoemd) was een jonge vrouw van gegoede afkomst. Haar vader was ‘squire’ op Benthall Hall, het landgoed van de aristocratische familie Benthall in Shropshire in het negentiende eeuwse Engeland. Mary’s vader John Lloyd ging echter nadat de Benthall’s hun landgoed van de hand moesten doen in verband met de hoge kosten failliet. Hij was zijn werk kwijtgeraakt en in het toen verarmde Shropshire was er geen mogelijkheid vervangend werk te vinden.

Omslag ontwerp ‘De engel van Kensington’. © 2012 Alice Verheij

Enkele jaren later vertrok Mary uit het ouderlijk huis, een kleine cottage op het landgoed dat het gezin uit dankbaarheid jegens haar vader beschikbaar was gesteld door Lord Benthall. Tegen de wil van haar familie koos de jonge Mary voor een onafhankelijk en avontuurlijk leven in Londen. Ze vond een baantje in een fourniturenwinkel en na enkele jaren werd ze ontdekt door een liaison van de schilders van de Pre Rafaëlistische Broederschap, een groep avant garde schilders die streefden naar vernieuwing in de schilderkunst door terug te grijpen naar mythologische thema’s.

Mary stond door haar verpletterende schoonheid al snel model bij alle bekende schilders en beeldhouwers uit die tijd en werd de protégé van een van die schilders en zijn favoriete model met wie hij een verhouding had. Binnen niet al te lange tijd werd Mary onderdeel van een menage a trois met de schilder en zijn model waarbij zij een gevecht moest voeren tegen de burgerlijke moraal waarmee ze was opgevoed en haar eigen gevoelens. De verhouding tussen de drie leverde niet alleen prachtige schilderkunst op maar tegelijkertijd ook spanning binnen de gemeenschap van de schilders en hun modellen in het Londense Kensington.

Maar de schilders zijn al op leeftijd en een voor een vallen ze weg totdat ook Mary’s beschermheer sterft waarna ze zonder voldoende inkomen samen met haar grootste rivale én geliefde achterblijft. De relatie tussen de twee vrouwen verdiept zich snel maar dan slaat het noodlot toe.

Decennia later leeft Mary nog altijd in Kensington als laatste van de modellen uit een vervlogen tijd en kijkt op haar leven en liefdes terug. Bij haar weinige overgebleven vrienden staat ze nog altijd bekend als de engel van Kensington.

Alice © 2012

The benefits of being ill (for a while).

Sometimes life travels at lightspeed for some. The reasons why are usually a totally unpredictable combination of events, challenges, situations and probably more known factors like character, emotion, personality, ambition and health. For me it’s not difficult to attach something personal to all of these words but the last one has, for the time being, become like the sand in the machine. And that was about time.

There’s no need or ambition in me to go through that whole string of words but a few things are at this moment determining my life in the short term. That is until expectedly the end of this year.

So I fell ill. An intense flu crossed my path and although that is no drama at all for me it meant that I for the first time in many months was forced to take a break. If only for a week or two. And taking a brake from work, obligations, efforts and ambitions forces one to think. Usually.

In the coming months is a lot of work waiting for me and with a lot of luck I’ll be able to get it done before summer. The long awaited novel is getting printed and so are two photobooks. The latter two however still have to be produced from ground up and that is quite a job even for someone like me who is able to make beautifully layouted work in a relative short timespan. And then of course there’s the big one. The film. Still so much to do and so much of it only possible to be done by me. It was, is and will be the biggest time consumer for at least another couple of months. That isn’t everything on the agenda. Because I am turning this work of writing, filming, photographing and publishing my profession rapidly. I know exactly what I want to do in the next part of my life and in fact I have been doing that already since about two years. It feels good, it is me out there doing what I love.

But there’s also the demonic shadow of the past preventing me to build a business of it in my home country because of a business past gone bad (nothing special there either but the left overs are still quite unmanageable). So if I want to do what I do on a solid basis I will have to work internationally. The good news is, I love that. Still, being stranded by illness for a while does force me to revise plans. Not in the least because when out of the performance loop the mind starts asking questions. Making reality checks. And so plans change.

Sure, I still will start to work from abroad for a large portion of the year as soon as it can be arranged. Economics will decide when, I decide if. But the timelines and the way this will happen shift, turn and change. It is not realistic for me to work from Nepal as a home base. I will however keep visiting the country I love so dearly and keep following, filming and reporting the fate of my Bhutanese friends in and around the refugee camps. Not because I promised but because I see that as an obligation to do so. There are more angles to the Nepalese society and the developments of Nepal that I want to report about. But it will never be my only world.

I am still a novel writer and that will not change, just like my love for writing poetry and songs for entertainment. So there will always be times when I am not in Asia or anywhere else for local reporting or filming but in stead I’ll be somewhere, anywhere, writing a novel. And the topic will not necessarily be connected to previous work because my very being as a literary artist doesn’t allow fixation.

So what does all of this mean for the plans I had and for a part still have?

Well, I am the journalist writer, photographer and filmer interested and focussed on human and women rights in South Asia. No doubt about that. But maybe after finishing the film not for this year anymore. Probably if not almost certainly next year again. But I am also the heremit writer in a soft spot somewhere writing that next novel. The sort of novel is already decided and quietly I am starting up research for it already. It is going to be very different from previous work, a challenge to write (that’s never a surprise) and a very special book. And I will also every now and then take the stage with a song or a short story in whatever show with dear theatre friends.

It will mean that I will not leave my country permanently. It will mean that I will leave my country intermittently, sometimes for long periods. But I’ll always be back for long periods. Like this year. Because this year, after the dust has settled of the books and the film and the two years of work involving the Bhutanese exiles issue, I will take a break for something very different, to keep myself in shape and not loose myself in one topic to work on and to take care that my mind stayes free. (I will not drop the topic of the Bhutanese, I can’t but it will be not the main focus for some time.)

Sometime this summer the real work on my new novel will start in traditional writing style. Designing the essence of the story, the plot if there is one to be, the characters, events, images and emotions. It will be England from roughly the end of the 19th century until the 1930’s. It will be distiguished romantic painters and one specific exquisitly beautiful model. A girl who became a model by fate and lost that work also by fate, never known by the public by her real name because she was not so high class savvy as that other famous painters model in that time but by the names of Greec goddesses or biblical Heroïns and who faded away in history but by her image remained unforgettable. I long to write about the life and loves of that woman who was once ‘Flaming June’. And this novel is one that will take quite some time to write wether I am in the flow or not. But it is a certainty that this will be my next major work.

Alice © 2012