Encounters in Paris is a collection of five refreshing short stories about Ellery Martin-Roulet – a 35-year-old African-American public relations executive living and working in Paris. Her seemingly picture-perfect life with her handsome French husband and their twin girls is jarred by infidelity, job loss, and death, and her reactions to these life-changing events are what former Paris expat and author Carolyn Davenport-Moncel wants her readers to contemplate and explore.
In "Pandora's Box Revisited," Ellery deals with the "double whammy" of being relieved of her job and discovering the ultimate betrayal in her marriage. In "A Haunting in Courbevoie," she experiences excruciating heartbreak after learning of a death in the family. "A Brief Indiscretion" explores Ellery's thoughts and actions associated with feelings of insecurity and a desire for revenge. "Until It's Gone" presents the beginnings of the relationship that Ellery embraced with such high hopes, only to see it deteriorate slowly and finally crash and burn.
My favorite short story in the collection is the fifth one – "Some Birds of a Feather..." In it, Ellery "meets" two pigeons during a well-deserved vacation when the birds wander into her rented home near Geneva, Switzerland. After shooing them out the kitchen window, she begins to observe their behavior as they return to the window sill over the next several days. She eventually names them after her deceased mother and father because the pigeons’ behavior mimics that of her parents. Through her interaction with the birds, she learns a valuable lesson about love, loss, and the afterlife.
Though each story stands alone, reading them all in one sitting provides a sense of tenuous continuity and gives the reader an opportunity to "fill in the blanks" of Roulet's life that Moncel leaves unexplored. This was part of the book's appeal for me – it adds greatly to my desire to know what happens to Ellery. Moncel indicates that she will be publishing a new collection of Ellery Roulet short stories entitled Five Ways to Leave a Lover in September 2011.
Carolyn Davenport-Moncel is a virtual media and web consultant and life-long storyteller. Though she has published many online articles on media relations, she had to push through her tendency to procrastinate to get her creative writing juices to flow into a series of short stories. She says that these stories are 25% real and 75% imagination, and that she takes her inspiration from all sources.
Encounters in Paris is available on Amazon.com in paperback and on Kindle. Kindle readers can purchase individual short stories for the price of $5.74, but the collection is a much better deal at $9.17. The paperback retails on Amazon.com at $17.99.
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