The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle
Young Carlota is the daughter of an Argentinian diplomat in the US during the Kennedy years. Her governess – the eponymous Mademoiselle – is a young Frenchwoman of extreme beauty and, although she could have any man she desires, she spurns each and every offer. Then comes the day when Carlota’s Christmas tree catches light and the chief of the local fire brigade comes bursting onto the scene. Nick Kowalski might be quite ordinary looking and not likely to start female hearts a-thumping, but Mademoiselle falls deeply in love with him. But for the first time ever she encounters a man immune to her charms.
So how to catch the attention of a fireman? Carlota knows the answer – you light a fire. And if that doesn’t work you light another and then another. And so begins the series of seven fires that gradually draw the threesome together into conspiracy and speculation. The trouble with pyromania is that it is addictive, and it will only end when Mademoiselle gets her way. And maybe not even then.
The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle is an enchanting little novel. The incendiary infatuation at its heart is both inexplicable as it is enthralling. It is sometimes hard to know why one person loves another and what it is that sparks the initial attraction, but it is fascinating to speculate. So as a thought-provoking romantic read this is recommended. My only hesitation is over the “historical” setting. Aside from mentions of Kennedy, there is not much that implies the 1962 backdrop, which is a shame, but in no way detracts from what is an accomplished piece of writing.