Miniature in the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, SC
It is a wild, woolly, rainy Wednesday here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. 30-something degree rain is just downright depressing. It should be snowing.
That being said, in the spirit of livening things up, I thought I’d give y’all a sneak peak at an excerpt from the very rough, very first draft of my historical novel-in-progress. I posted an earlier peak over on Instagram, and today posted this, too. So I thought I’d share here.
The novel, as it stands, is set in both 1804 and 2004. The following is told from the point of view of my main character, who is an art historian and restoration expert at the Gibbes Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Enjoy!
There is an excitement historians feel when we’ve made a find. When we’ve uncovered something about a life, or from a time, no one has even seen or perhaps made a connection to before. It reassures something infinite in us: it solidifies this truism we all trust, that somehow, through era and age, across millennia, we are connected. That our stories matter. That we share them, despite the often dissociating construct of space and time.
It’s how we get a person to walk into a museum. I mean, that’s a pretty big task. In Charleston, especially, there are many other things to do and see. You can eat biscuits which sing in your mouth, for example. Drink cocktails from the jazz age, mixed by clever bartenders. Take in harbor views so delightful the town put up swings. But a historian must lure a person in by other means—the means of a promise. A promise of a glimpse of the past, of an insight into how we got where we are, even with the airing of someone’s 200-year-old dirty laundry. A historian makes the promise that stories matter. That our choices matter, and that they ripple out, as many reverberations as there are waves in the ocean.
I restore art not because I want to live in the past, or because I believe it was in any way, shape, or form a better place to be. I’m a woman, for heaven’s sake. The past is even trickier for my people than the present, and that is saying something. Indeed, I am well aware of history’s fickle soul.
But saying it like this makes the past sound just delightful, even funny. The truth is, the past is marauding. It will mow you down like a Pamplonian bull if you don’t give it the attention it deserves.