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Authors: Susan Vreeland

Lisette's List

BOOK: Lisette's List
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Lisette’s List
is a work of fiction. All incidents and dialogue, and all characters with the exception of some well-known historical figures, are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Where real-life historical or public figures appear, the situations, incidents, and dialogues concerning those persons are entirely fictional and are not intended to depict actual events or to change the entirely fictional nature of the work. In all other respects, any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2014 by Susan Vreeland

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

RANDOM HOUSE and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.

Vreeland, Susan.
Lisette’s list : a novel / Susan Vreeland.
pages cm
ISBN 978-1-4000-6817-3
eBook ISBN 978-0-8129-9685-2
1. Young women—Fiction. 2. Art—Psychological aspects—Fiction. 3. Provence (France)—Fiction. 4. France—History—German occupation, 1940-1945—Fiction. 5. World War, 1939–1945—France—Fiction. I. Title. PS3572.R34L57 2014

Jacket design: Pete Garceau
Jacket images: The Hill at Jallais, Pointoise (view of village) (Bridgeman Art Library); Landscape, Louveciennes (Musée d’Orsay, Paris/Bridgeman Art Library); View from Louveciennes (National Gallery, London/Bridgeman Art Library): all by Camille Pissarro; Paul Cézanne, The Card Players (Musée d’Orsay, Paris/Bridgeman Art Library)



Title Page

Book I

Chapter One: Road to Roussillon
Chapter Two: This Village, this Man
Chapter Three: The Paris We Knew
Chapter Four: Pascal’s Negotiation
Chapter Five: Pascal, Pissarro, Pontoise, and Purpose
Chapter Six: André’s Gift
Chapter Seven: Pascal’s List
Chapter Eight: An Earful from Cézanne
Chapter Nine: A Good Life

Book II

Chapter Ten: Maxime’s Letter
Chapter Eleven: The Radio and the Café
Chapter Twelve: The Mistral and the Mayor
Chapter Thirteen: Lamentations
Chapter Fourteen: Patron Saints
Chapter Fifteen: The Secret of Gordes
Chapter Sixteen: Love
Chapter Seventeen: The Martyr, the Goat, and the Chicken
Chapter Eighteen: New Life
Chapter Nineteen: Shame
Chapter Twenty: An Ending and A Beginning

Book III

Chapter Twenty-One: The Unspeakable
Chapter Twenty-Two: Promenade
Chapter Twenty-Three: Gifts from Chagall
Chapter Twenty-Four: Sausages
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Woodpile and the List
Chapter Twenty-Six: Lapushka
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Ochres of All Hues
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Marzipan
Chapter Twenty-Nine: Fruits of Christmas

Book IV

Chapter Thirty: The Olive Wreath
Chapter Thirty-One: Preparations
Chapter Thirty-Two: Paris After All
Chapter Thirty-Three: Paris, Encore Et Toujours
Chapter Thirty-Four: Winged and Victorious
Chapter Thirty-Five: Yet
Chapter Thirty-Six: J’ai Deux Amours
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Théo’s Negotiation
Chapter Thirty-Eight: For Better or Worse
Chapter Thirty-Nine: The Letter and the Song
Chapter Forty: Truth
Chapter Forty-One: My List
Chapter Forty-Two: La Veillée
Other Books by This Author
About the Author


In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.





Avignon train station, the delivery boys on ancient bicycles swerving between children and horse carts, and the automobile drivers honking their horns, André stood relaxed, eating an apple from a fruit stand. Meanwhile, I paced in a tight circle around our carpetbags, our valises, and our crates filled with everything we could take with us from our apartment in Paris, plus the tools from his workshop, plus the dream of my life sacrificed.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” I asked.

“Yes, Lisette.” André plucked a broad leaf off a nearby plane tree and laid it on a cobblestone. He touched my nose with his index finger and then pointed to the leaf. “He’ll park right there. On that cobblestone. Just watch.” He squeezed my hand. “In the south of France, things happen as they should.”

But apparently in the south of France, buses didn’t operate on schedule, as they did in Paris. Nor did the light have the same effect as it did there. Here, the light singed the eye, wrapped itself around edges, intensified colors, ignited the spine. If it were otherwise, I would not have recognized the loveliness in a bare square that was
not Paris, but there it was—a shimmering watercolor of fathers and grandfathers sitting under the plane tree, their white shirts blued by the cornflower sky, which found openings in the foliage, the men eating almonds from a paper bag, passing it from one end of the bench to the other and back again, perhaps talking of better days. They looked content, sitting there, while I withdrew my hand from André’s and made another senseless circuit around the modest pile of our belongings, feeling his gaze following me.

“Look at them,” André said in a low voice. “All members of the Honorary Order of Beret Wearers.” He chuckled at his own invention.

Eventually a boxy little bus, a faded relic once painted orange beneath its rust, sputtered to a stop, the right front wheel crushing the leaf on the cobblestone. André tipped his head and gave me an excusably smug but tender smile.

The stocky driver bounded down the steps, nimble-footed, pointing his toes outward as weighty people do to keep their balance. He hailed André by name, reached his thick arm up to slap him on the back, and said he was glad to see him.

“How’s Pascal doing?” André asked.

“He gets around all right most days. Louise takes him his meals or he eats with us.”

The driver bowed to me with exaggerated courtliness.

“Adieu, madame. I am Maurice,
un chevalier de Provence
. A knight of the roads. Not, however, Maurice Chevalier, who is a knight of the stage.” He sent André a wink. “Your wife, she is more beautiful than Eleanor of Aquitaine.”

Foolishness. I would not fall for it.

Had he said
“Bonjour, monsieur,”
I responded properly.

I was amused by his attire—a red cravat above his undershirt, the only shirt he wore, which dipped in front to show his woolly chest; a red sash tied as a belt; his round head topped by a black beret. Black hair curled out from his armpits, a detail I could have
done without noticing, but I am, thanks to Sister Marie Pierre, the noticing type.

He placed a hand over his fleshy bosom. “I deliver ladies in distress.
, madame.”

I gave André a doleful look. I was in distress that very moment, already missing the life we had left behind.

“Vite! Vite! Vite!”
The driver circled his arm around our bags in three quick movements, urging us to move quickly, quickly, quickly. “We leave in two minutes.” Then he was gone.

was enough, don’t you think?”

With a wry twist of his mouth, André said, “People in Provence speak robustly. They live robustly too. Especially Maurice.” André began loading our bags and crates. “He’s a good friend. I’ve known him ever since I was a boy, when Pascal used to take me to visit Roussillon.”

“What’s the red sash for?”

“It’s a
. It signifies that he’s a native son, a patriot of Provence.”

We waited ten minutes. Two men took seats in the back of the bus. Soon I heard robust snoring.

Our self-proclaimed chevalier finally scurried back. “Sorry, sorry. I saw a friend,” he said, working every feature of his round face, even his wide nostrils, into a smile of innocence, as though having seen a friend naturally justified the delay. He pumped up the tires with a hand pump—robustly, I observed—and started the engine, which choked in resistance, then lurched us ahead under the stone arch spanning the ramparts and out into the countryside to the east.

The road to Roussillon between two mountain ranges, the Monts de Vaucluse to the north and the Luberons to the south, kept me glued to the window. I had never been to the south of France.

BOOK: Lisette's List
10.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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