You know those moments – those moments when a book speaks to you? When you read something that might have been written exactly for you to find it? Well, I had a rather peculiar moment of that kind, yesterday…
I was reading (and very much enjoying) John Bossy’s Under the Molehill – an Elizabethan Spy Story. It’s research for the Tom Walsingham Mysteries, and an absorbing read, and I was in the middle of a chapter discussing the chances of a certain person being in London at a certain time, on some undocumented trip – when I came across this:
Journey times in the sixteenth century were unpredictable. The author of a detective story which had [him] for a suspect could probably, wind and weather permitting, just about find time for him to send his copy of [the] letter, nip across the Channel, pick up his marmalade and put it in the post by 17 October.
Marmalade – yes. Long story. and it must be said that Bossy concludes that, while not impossible, this particular coming and going sounds, for several reasons, improbable. Still, while the events surrounding the Marmalade Letter are likely too late to feature in my story, those words really spoke to me.
I’m that author of a detective story, and the man in question will indeed play a role in it, and the chances, ways, and timelines of people shuttling between London and Paris have been very much on my mind…
So this is how I found myself nodding and humming at a book – while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room – and feeling very, very much in the middle of a conversation.
I think I’ll say it again: ah, the power of writing!