Today that’s where I’m taking you all as I join Alex Christofi on tour with his latest novel Let Us Be True
Described as ‘Evocative, charismatic and sweeping in scope, Alex Christofi’s second novel is a moving story of love and loss, of the things we hide from ourselves and from others, and of the personal cost of Europe’s turbulent twentieth century’
Just published today with Serpent’s Tail, I am delighted to bring you all an extract as my stop on tour. I am very fortunate to have a copy of this book to read over the next few weeks and I am so looking forward to it!!
I do hope you enjoy…
Ralf is alone, filling his days with glasses of red win at Jacques’bar, waiting for life to happen to him.
Then, one night, Elsa – bold, enigmatic, unpredictable – whirls into Jacques’ bar and into Ralf’s world, knocking him out of his cautious routine and into a life full of spontaneity and excitement.
But Elsa is hiding something. As Ralf falls deeper in love, he reveals more of his past – his childhood in Nazi Germany, his time in a British tank division at the end of the Second World War. But what is Else hiding? And can their
love survive it?
Let Us Be True charts the lives of these two extraordinary characters through an era of great uncertainty, from the war and its aftermath to the deadly unrest of 1960s Paris.
EXTRACT ~ LET US BE TRUE
Three days passed and Ralf had begun to resign himself to the fact that he had no chance of finding this Elsa. He didn’t have a number or an address for her, nor even her surname. He turned over ways of finding her in his head all the same. But time dragged on, and on Friday he found himself outside Jacques’ bar earlier than usual, the first of the regulars to arrive.
‘Any sign of Fouad?’ Ralf asked.
‘No, he’s off marching today,’ replied Jacques.
‘Pro-communist, or pro-Algeria?’
‘How should I know? You’re the one who spends every night arguing with him. Oh – I’m to give you this,’ said Jacques, handing over a crumpled and greasy piece of folded paper.
‘I’ll have a beer, thank you.’ Ralf looked down at the note. Jacques sniffed and swallowed phlegm. The note said:
If you ever want to see your hat again, meet me at 5.30
pm by the restaurant on the Tour Eiffel.
Ralf turned the note over. The other side was blank except for Jacques’ dirty fingerprints. Ralf looked at the clock.
‘Did she give you this today?’ he asked.
‘It was a boy came in this morning while I was putting the chairs down. He was only in his shorts and cap, must have been freezing his little orphans off.’
‘Can I cancel the beer?’
Jacques lifted the glass, scraping off the excess foam with his finger.
‘I’ve poured it now.’
‘Can’t you drink it?’
‘I’ll drink it and you pay for it, how’s that?’
‘I’ll pay you later, you bloody skinflint,’ said Ralf as he wound his scarf tight around his neck. If he cycled quickly, he could make it there with time to spare.
He had a clear run to Saint-Jacques, perhaps the only church ever to have been built by butchers and destroyed by republicans. For reasons unknown, they had left the tower intact, so here alone it stood. He continued down the rue de Rivoli, passing buses at their stops. Grey and beige Vespas buzzed through gaps. The wind froze his knuckles and caught at the back of his throat.
Who was this Elsa, who was playing a game without telling him the rules, who had run off, leaving him behind as evidence? Her behaviour didn’t make sense. He had to know more. At times he had wondered whether she was humouring him – he had almost felt he was boring her – and yet she had gone so far out of her way in his company. They were both, doubtless, banned from the Tour d’Argent. The stunt could not be replicated. It was as if she gave no thought to consequence. Ralf turned off to cycle through the Tuileries, named after tilers and planted for royalty. A passer-by was trying to stop her handbag from slipping down her arm as her child ran over to the fountain with a model boat.
‘Dismount!’ called a policeman, holding his hand out towards Ralf.
‘Sorry, I can’t, I’m late,’ shouted Ralf over his shoulder as he swerved past.
The policeman made as if to give chase, but thought better of it as Ralf sped down the long, straight gravel of the gardens, negotiating his way through traffic at the Place de la Concorde and on towards the Pont Alexandre III.
If she had never contacted him again, that would have been the end of it. But she had kept the hat, leaving the night unresolved. She must want to see him. He had been thinking about that evening, going back over what she had said in the search for new meanings, wondering whether he had invented her glances. He had barely had a chance to find out anything about her. They had not kissed, nor declared any sentiments. Nothing was spoken aloud. What if she were simply to give the hat to him and go? But that was ridiculous. Why arrange to meet if one could have delivered the hat instead of the note?
To read more…
Purchase Link ~ Let Us Be True
Alex Christofi was born in Dorset and read English at the University of Oxford. As well
as working as an editor, he writes occasional essays and reviews.
His first novel Glass, also published by Serpent’s Tail, was longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and won the Betty Trask Prize.
Twitter ~ @alex_christofi
Website ~ https://alexchristofi.com/