Waiting for Godot . . .
While awaiting the cover work for my new book, a cozy mystery novel, I have often thought of "Waiting for Godot” which is probably the most well-known play by Samuel Beckett. As you may remember, in this play the two characters engage in a variety of antics, discussions and encounters while awaiting the titular Godot, who never arrives. However, for one in my position, as a first time novelist, this predicament is not even as humorous as the play. Not to me, at least. One might ask, “What could be so urgent about publishing yet another mystery novel?” I thought of what Agatha Christie once said.
“No artist, I now realize, can be satisfied with art alone. There is a natural craving for recognition which cannot be gain-said." But without a cover, there is no book to publish, even if they say that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I had worked with the designer through six drafts, but finally I had decided that he must read the prologue and one or two other passages to really get the sense of the atmosphere that the cover needed to convey. Finally, in order to mitigate my anxiety and to get some fresh air, last Tuesday Ted and I went to revisit Monet's beautiful house and gardens in the town of Giverny.
Our last visit, my very first, was in 2018 when I was still recovering from my second broken foot, a fracture that was close to my ankle bone and required that I spend the better part of a year in a wheelchair. Of course that didn’t stop us from seeing the world around us.On that first visit, we managed to navigate all of the gardens with the help of a kindly groundskeeper who ushered us through one secret door on the side of the street that contained the famous Lily Ponds, and across to the other side of the street through another secret door that led to the even more spectacular gardens that surround Monet’s house, all without climbing up and down staircases. Painted pink with bright green shutters and spanning the entire width of the garden, the house represented Monet’s penchant for color. But on that first occasion, we never had the chance to see the inside of Monet’s home.
There was just no way for a wheelchair to get up all of those stairs from the front door and throughout the house itself. Nevertheless, we were thankful at that time to have a chance to roll through those beautiful gardens and to enjoy a surprise luncheon by the side of the river Eure.
On this, our second visit to Giverny, we thoroughly enjoyed all, inside and out. The gardens were in full bloom with all of the flowers standing upright in this cooler than usual Summer season.
The lily pond was still a joy to behold, and the visit inside this historic home was as colorful as one would expect of this painter’s brilliant palate
Entering the house through the expansive kitchen, we no longer wondered why Monet had decided to live over an hour outside of Paris.
The enormous adjacent dinning room, was flooded with light from the large windows accentuating the bright yellow salle, decorated with countless Japanese Woodcut prints from notables such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, Utamaro and Kuniyoshi. The painted wooden hutches displayed dozens of pieces of Bright Blue and white Delftware that added to the cheerfulness of the setting.The cozy studio was full with soft overstuffed furnishings in flowered print fabric and paintings by none other than the owner.
The rooms upstairs were equally impressive for their colors and patterns and artwork, if not for their size. It was a delicious treat, eye-candy to be sure!After exiting the house, we stayed for a while in the garden to enjoy a few quiet last moments amongst nature’s beauty and one man’s colossal vision, while seated on one of the many boldly painted, green wooden benches that were provided for
the comfort of doing just that. Next, we walked back down the street and enjoyed lunch in another lovely garden setting.
To top off our day, as we began our drive back to Paris along the Eure River, my dis-ease regarding the book cover was erased by the sight of a beautiful meadow, perfect for some future picnic. We stopped and parked to explore even further and met a charming and friendly local who had moved upon retirement to Giverny from a his birthplace in Paris, especially to enjoy the serenity. He had recently adopted an adorable yearling Australian Shepherd, whose conformation reminded us of our precious but long-gone DeeDee. This beauty’s name was Ruby, and she had the most unique markings we'd ever seen.
After a nice visit with Ruby and her human, we headed for the Autoroute and returned home to our Mickey, always waiting to greet us at the door of the vestibule. It had been a gorgeous day, one that had lifted my spirits.
Maybe tomorrow the cover work would show up. The book’s launch in September depends on it.
PS. When I checked my computer, I saw an email containing the printer’s layout, the all important galley proofs that would keep me busy for at least two days. I was happy to receive them. However, having the book before its cover (by which it may be judged) was a stimulus for more neurotic worries. What if they couldn’t achieve the the look I had in mind? What if we couldn’t represent the title and the content? It would surely become a difficult task to rise to the level of the aesthetics that we had achieved for the cover of my memoir. But I was cheered as I saw that I had also received a lovely endorsement from a former colleague in Minneapolis, Gloria Levin (see below).
I had earlier received two other endorsements, one from an very discriminating old friend in L.A., Doug Thorpe, and one from the well-know writer and editor, Ellis Weiner:
"Psychoanalysis is at the heart, and in the head, of this mystery by a career shrink who just happens to know her way around a keyboard. As befits its topic, this is as much a whydunit as a whodunit. Judith Mitrani delivers both sets of goods in the end, along with psychological history and theory, wit, romance, and a nice slice of L.A. atmosphere.”
“This procedural/mystery thriller brings a new and fascinating approach to the often too predictable standard fare. Exposure to unconscious influences in problem solving adds immeasurably to the fun.”
Oh, by the way, have I mentioned the title of my Novel?
Stay tuned for the next episode of the trials and tribulations of a writer