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Sarah’s Vignettes shares: an extract from The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan (@elizabethbuchan) ~ @CorvusBooks ~ @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlogTour

I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate the paperback release of The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan. My thanks to Anne Cater for the invitation to take part.

I have a fabulous extract from the first chapter of the book to share with you. Before I do though, here is what you can expect from the The Museum of Broken Promises.

~ From the back of the book ~

Welcome to The Museum of Broken Promises, a place of wonder and sadness. And hope.

Inside lies a treasure trove of objects – a baby’s shoe, a wedding veil, a railway ticket – all revealing real moments of loss and betrayal. It is a place where people come to speak to the ghosts of the past. The owner, Laure, is also one of those people.

As a young woman in the 1980s Laure fled to Prague, where her life changed forever. Now, years later, she must confront the origins of her heart-breaking exhibition: A love affair with a dissident musician, a secret life behind the iron curtain, and a broken promise that she will never forget.

~ Extract from The Museum of Broken Promises ~

Chapter One

Paris, today

Her life was not quite in order. Would possibly never be – but it wasn’t bad. Accommodations had been made. She had the museum.

At 9 a.m., Laure folded back the shutters in Room 2 and looked out at a Paris revealed by the morning light. A bunch of pigeons strutted over the roof next-door uttering their pigeon racket.

In summer, the sun lightened the colours of the roof tiles. In autumn, they were slicked with rain and, in winter, frost sometimes ran a rim around their edges so that they resembled a Fabergé fantasy. Little else changed over a year, which was precisely what Laure craved. She wanted to look out at the same vista, open the same shutters and turn to inspect the glass cabinets in which were enshrined the disquiet of those who sought resolution.

Those objects could be disturbing. Or poignant. Or funny. Almost always marked in their effect. It was not uncommon for a visitor to say they had experienced a sense of déjà vu when studying the display cabinets. Some confessed they had a feeling that there was someone else in the room other than the visitors. Some said that the objects appeared to exude a soul, with all its imprecision and mystery. Stopping to polish a small smudge on the glass of the cabinet nearest to the door, she walked into the next room. The day had begun.

Just before the lunch hour, a muffled cry sounded in the building.

Upstairs in the office, Laure, and her assistant, Nic Arnold, looked up from their desks. One of those. A touchstone moment when a dam broke in a visitor, releasing… well… many things.

She gestured to the door. ‘You or me?’ The cry was repeated and Laure made a decision. ‘Both, I think.’

It was early autumn and the visitor numbers were dropping as they always did after the summer. Technically, it was a normal day. Yet, normal days could be deceptive. From them could erupt disquiet, even a violence of sorts. Certainly, violent emotions. The contents of Laure’s unassuming, unshowy museum possessed a power to trigger them, particularly in those close to breaking point.

She picked up the first-aid pack. Nic picked up the clipboard. Together, they ran downstairs. If procedure was being observed, Chantal at the kiosk would be hastening upstairs ready to herd visitors away from the room in which the incident was taking place.

In Room 3, a man and a woman were fighting. Or rather, he was fending off an attack as she beat him on the face with the museum catalogue. Laure and Nic exchanged a glance. Nic put down his clipboard, stepped forwards and, as politely as possible in the circumstances, pulled the woman off the man.

Panting, the man stood back – disappointment and rage written all over his face. He touched his cheek where the edge of the catalogue had left a red mark. ‘What do you think you’re doing, Odile?’

‘I wish I could kill you.’ She was matter-of-fact which made what she said the more chilling. One hand clung to the belt threaded through her jeans which, Laure noted, had a large metal buckle. ‘Perhaps I will one of these days.’

They were French. Not so surprising as this was Paris – but you could never predict in this museum (any museum?) what a visitor’s nationality might be.

The woman’s knees buckled, forcing Nic to tighten his grip. Laure whipped the chair, stationed by the wall for precisely these emergencies, under the woman and together they eased her down.

The first-aid pack had been designed to snap open easily and Laure produced a cup and a bottle of water. ‘Would this help?’ She was calm and measured. ‘I’m forbidden to hand out medication but I can contact a doctor or the emergency services if you think you require them.’

Nic picked up the clipboard and wrote the time and date down in the boxes on the form headed ‘Incidents’.

She held the plastic cup to the woman’s lips who took a mouthful and pushed away Laure’s arm. ‘Thank you.’

Laure eased herself upright and addressed the man. ‘Are you the person who we would deal with in an emergency?’

Tall. Wearing jeans and a corduroy jacket. Probably in his forties… ‘If you’re asking if I’m her husband, I am,’ he answered. ‘Yves Brun.’

Sour, too.

Nic noted it down. ‘Is your wife unwell or was it something in the museum which has upset her?’

A shade crossed the man’s features. ‘I suspect it was something here.’

Even to an uninformed observer, and Laure and Nic were habituated to seven degrees of deception practised by the public, it was obvious Yves was skirting the truth.

Odile shivered. ‘He knows what’s wrong.’

Nic wrote that down too. Current regulations insisted on a precise record and he asked Yves for their telephone numbers. Yves bent over his wife. ‘Odile, you can’t do this in public. It’s becoming a problem.’

She gazed up at him and, without warning, spat at his feet. ‘That sort of problem?’

Putain.’ He stepped back.

Again, Nic and Laure exchanged glances. The situation was likely to be more complicated than met the eye.

‘The shoes…’ Odile wiped her mouth. ‘They belong to my daughter.’

~ Where to find The Museum of Broken Promises ~

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan was published in paperback and eBook on 2nd April 2020. You can order it from all good bookshops as well as Amazon UK. It can also be found on Goodreads.

~ About Elizabeth Buchan ~

Elizabeth Buchan

Elizabeth Buchan was a fiction editor at Random House before leaving to write full time. Her novels include the prizewinning Consider the Lily, international bestseller Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman and The New Mrs Clifton. Buchan’s short stories are broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in magazines. She reviews for the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail, and she has chaired the Betty Trask and Desmond Elliot literary prizes.

Connect with Elizabeth Buchan at:

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Be sure to drop by the other stops on The Museum of Broken Promises blog tour!

The Museum of Broken Promises by Elizabeth Buchan

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