A SIN FOR A SON – Chapter 1 – The Proposal – part 1 of 4

Yipee, my novel ‘A SIN FOR A SON’ is now available on Amazon either printed or electronic (Kindle) The short synopsis on the back cover reads:

“A SIN FOR A SON spans two continents and thirty-eight years starting in 1942 in England in the midst of World War 11. It is the story of a woman who takes unusual measures to secure a son for her husband thereby thwarting curses from an African Juju man and from her demanding father-in-law.”

Over the next few days I am going to post the first chapter on this blog. It is just short of 4,000 words so I’ll truncate it into three more blog sized pieces, although this chapter reads a little like a romance I don’t classify the novel as such it is more about a moral dilemma.

Luisa Chapman dreaded the month of her birthday, not because of passing years, but because she knew that Walter would pay a proposal visit. She liked Walter as a friend and enjoyed his company but she didn’t like the thought that, for her birthday, he’d arrive with flowers in his hands, a ring in his pocket and a proposal on his lips. England was at war that spring of 1942, and this would be his fourth time.

She reminded herself that he was a delightful young man and was good company. As she thought about him she couldn’t help but numerate his qualifications, starting with his best-friend status with her brother, Robert. She knew that he would be a reliable husband and provider, and liked his athletic body, blond hair and blue eyes. She wondered if his genealogy might go back to the time when a group of fair-haired Anglican children in the Roman marketplace inspired Pope Gregory I to make the pun “Non Angli, sed Angeli” or “Not Angles, but Angels.” She even thought of his personality as angelic. It was exciting to recall that before 1939 he was starting an architectural practice in London and that after the war he planned to return to architecture and contribute to rebuilding the devastation wrought by the conflict. For now, she admired his contribution and the fact that as soon as war was declared he had put architecture temporarily aside and signed on with the Royal Air Force to become a fighter pilot.

Luisa didn’t understand the depth of Walter’s devotion, for he never showed her his vulnerability. She didn’t know that when colleagues and friends asked him how he managed to keep his fearless façade throughout The Battle of Britain when so many were shot down, he pointed to his treasured possession, a stage photograph of her which he kept in the cockpit beside him. He had obtained the image from Robert. It contrasted with the pin-up girls carried by the other pilots, as it showed a mature young woman with a dreamy look, gazing slightly to the side. He loved her straight nose, her high cheek bones, her luxuriant symmetrical lips, and the curls of her upswept brown hair which nestled around her face in gentle waves and wound round into a soft chignon at the nape of her neck. It was the look which he loved and studied when he flew. Over time the photograph was becoming dog-eared, and his fondest dream was that one day he would be able to replace it with their wedding portrait.

Luisa prepared for Walter’s visit with care even though she knew that she didn’t need to impress him. She wore brown heels, a slim pencil-line tan skirt and complementary pale green blouse with accent collar and bow. The green was just the right hue to show off her skin and hair and accentuate the green tint of her eyes. She waited for his arrival standing next to a window overlooking the approach road in an upstairs room of her parents’ commodious house. While she waited she continued to assess her complex emotions and concluded, as always, that she did not love him. On this occasion she knew that she should be delighted to see him, confirming that he was still alive. Instead, she thought about the purpose of his visit and his annoying habit of jangling the change in his pocket. She thought of his faint masculine odor, and she dreaded the inevitable walk in her parents’ garden. She didn’t like the thought that she would have to look into his eyes and reject his offer. She knew, from past experience, that she would see pain and disappointment as he glanced away to avoid further eye contact. She also knew that, after the ordeal of rejecting him, she would have an additional trial when she faced her father.

Both her parents loved Walter, and considered him an ideal candidate for a son-in-law. By now they seriously doubted that their daughter would ever marry and have children, and surmised that it was not a lack of suitors. They could see that she was intelligent, well-spoken and physically attractive, and they knew that she had had no shortage of admirers. Over the years they watched her friends get married and came to the sad conclusion that the problem lay with her image of what she wanted in a husband. They couldn’t understand where Walter fell short. Her father even hoped that if he added his arguments to Walter’s and continued persistently and emphatically enough, one of them, or perhaps the two of them together, would eventually change her mind.

Walter arrived on schedule, with his flowers and his ring. This time he carried a magnificent bunch of yellow tulips which he had deftly wrapped and carried behind him on his bicycle. They were only two hours old. He had picked them himself in the barracks’ nursery. He rode quickly through the quiet Sussex village to the Chapmans’ home, and joyfully peddled faster when he saw his destination, her parents’ house, basking in the late afternoon sun. It stood immutable and imposing, facing the very center of the village green. This spring its embracing Virginia creepers were already sprouting green to contrast with its white brick walls, which gave it its imposing name of The White House. He got off his bicycle, opened the wrought iron gate, and gently pushed the bike through. He parked it discretely in the front garden against the white garden wall. Then he unloaded his flowers. He knelt down and carefully unwrapped and re-arranged them so that they looked spectacular in his arms. Their gold emphasized his blond hair and contrasted with his dark suit.

Luisa saw all this from her hidden stance behind upstairs curtains. She thought that he made a striking figure and privately wondered if the gold carried any symbolism or whether the color was a result of expedience in this time of war shortages. She quickly concluded that Walter did not espouse to hidden meanings and so intended no subliminal message other than his love. When he mounted the steps to the regal front door, she slipped away from the window and quietly descended the stairs, ready to respond when the doorbell gave its distinctive ring. She opened the door and found him in an optimistic, friendly mood. He breathed in the sweet smell of beeswax from the gracious hall, which blended with the faint aroma of her distinctive Fleurs de Rocaille perfume. He greeted her with an attempted hug as he presented his garland of spring. When her parents, Thomas and Isabelle, came into the hall he greeted them warmly, pulling a small bag of tea from his coat pocket as a gift for Isabelle. She was delighted and offered profuse thanks as this would help them eke out their weekly war rations of two ounces per person.

© Copyright, Jane Stansfeld, February 2014
‘A SIN FOR A SON’ is available on Amazon:

7 thoughts on “A SIN FOR A SON – Chapter 1 – The Proposal – part 1 of 4

  1. Hello Jane,

    It gives me great pleasure to upload and display your book cover on my blog’s sidebar with a link that clicks through to this post here.

    Thank you for all your generosity and this is the least that I can do in return.

    All good wishes,

  2. Now, how did I miss these episodes. No worries as I’ve book marked and shall return to read the following three parts.

    Congratulations overdue and with my apologies. I wish you every success, Jane.

    The story starts somewhat leisurely but already I see all the conflicts – personal and societal – strewn in the paths of the actors. The war as a backdrop adds urgency.

    I”l be back 🙂

    • Thank you Eric, I always enjoy your insightful comments – you hone the best out of us all. Oddly I think that the book is fast paced even though I agree with your comment. I suggest that novel writing places different constraints on the author – far stretched from the necessities of blogging or even short stories. Having written that I concede that some novels, such as Dickens’ work, were written as serials and so had to present in succinct episodes – I think that the same could be said of your writing.

  3. Very tasty hors d’oeuvre, Jane, as I await the arrival of the full story via Amazon…which should be here in a couple of days (since it is “prime” eligible). Once again, congratulations!

    • Thank you Cynthia, your words of encouragement are helpful and much appreciated. Believe it or not I am now in Taupo NZ and much enjoying sight seeing. Thank you for you visit!, Cheerio, Jane

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