This novella has an unusual format in that the paragraphs, even sometimes just single sentences, are all numbered, with white space between each one. Each piece of text never contains any more words than would fit onto a postcard. Each “postcard” continues one of three connected stories.
There is the story of Henri, a Jew, who, in the 1950s, is the last tailor in what was once the Street of Tailors. He always sews a hidden blue Tekhelet thread somewhere into the trousers for luck. His life is transformed by the daily visit of a lady in a dress of blue flowers. Is she real or just from the “blue mists of memory,” from happier times?
The second story is the artist Yves Klein (1928 – 1962), who is famous for his blue monochrome paintings. Klein was real, but was Henri, and did he make the artist a suit? There are such things as blue lies, which are those told for the benefit of the community.
The third story is purportedly set in the present day, whenever that is, and tells of the narrator himself, who finds a postcard of Klein’s blue monochrome at a stall by the Eiffel Tower, run by Michelle, a girl many years his junior. They both have a love of swallows and of blue and her habit of pushing her hair behind her ear reminds him of his mother. This could be a bitter sweet love story or, again, it could be a story based purely on a remembrance or a longing.
Although the stories are simple, they are beautifully told, and the musings on the colour blue, truth, lies, memory and time will remain with the reader for far longer than it took Bruton to write them, which was apparently just six days. Highly recommended.