For ex-army veteran Pauline Parril life marches along in orderly formation now that she is happily married, raising three children, and ascending a promising career ladder. But the handles of her safe and comfortable world soon turn upside-down when a termination letter lands on her lap and her once-loving husband Donald grows distant as he fools around with an attractive co-worker. Complications further arise when Pauline returns to school and meets Michael Fortune–the handsome and exciting poetry professor who threatens to get out of hand. Pauline once endured a long deployment to a war-torn country halfway around the world, but can she survive the front lines of her fraying household? FInd out how she does it in the Perils of Pauline, an uproarious tale à la Bridget Jones of an intrepid every-woman as she steps through the challenges of rebuilding her life while learning that there’s actually more to discover about herself than she ever dreamed possible.
I step out my front door to find my nextdoor neighbor standing at the edge of his lawn, staring across at our yard, his lips compressed into a frown.
“Is everything okay, Lewis?”
“Your water sprinkler is too close to my property line.”
“How so? It’s on my lawn.”
“When you water your lawn, my driveway is getting sprinkled.”
I know better than to argue with Lewis. “Okay, no problem, I’ll position the sprinkler further away.” I better not mention the sprinkler issue to Donald or he might freak out. Over the years, Lewis has complained about the height of our grass (too long), the color of our grass (yellow) and the condition of our grass (weedy). He also demands that we cut down our shady maple and repaint our porch.
The mature maples lining our street are the best feature of this old sprawling suburb with big front porches and quiet culdesacs. Lewis chopped down all his trees last year, citing the aggravation of leaves choking his gutters. Our grass is admittedly scruffy but that’s because last month Donald spotsprayed it with a homebrew of salt and vinegar to kill the crabgrass and clover, and ended up pickling the grass instead. He dug out the worst scorched areas and laid pieces of new sod, so now the lawn has bright green patches interspersed with the weedy yellow parts and the dead brown bits. Now all the neighborhood kids like to come over to play The Floor is Lava on our front lawn. The green bits are safe. Step outside them, you die.
I hurry down the sidewalk to Bibienne’s where boring lawns go to die and reincarnate as boisterous perennial gardens full of day lilies, climbing honeysuckle and chrysanthemums. Hummingbirds chase butterflies through pink and purple peonies as I go around the side to her garden doors only to find an abandoned wheelbarrow. Odd. Usually Bibienne is outside pruning her roses on a day like this. One of the doors is ajar so I rap on the frame and step inside. I love Bibienne’s roomy kitchen: an inspired mix of antique cabinets fitted with granite countertops. A cook’s dream but nothing’s cooking here. Beyond the kitchen, in the family room, I spy Bibienne reclined on the couch watching TV, legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles on the oversized ottoman in front of her. Without taking her eyes from the screen, she frowns at me while laying her palm on top of her head, as if to hold down her thick auburn hair, which is gathered away from her face in a hasty French twist. She raises a warning finger to her lips. Camilo Villegas and Adam Scott are playing so I know enough to remain silent until the next commercial break, when she turns her cool green eyes on me. I’ve interrupted men’s tennis so this better be good.
“I’ve been fired. My assistant, Daria, stole my job.”
“Oh. Okay.” She gets up from the couch and pats my shoulder. “I’ll make you a drink.”
I nod and follow her to the kitchen. I’m safe. I can stick around and watch tennis with her as long as I don’t make too much noise. “I have ChocoLee chocolates too.” She drops ice cubes into tall glasses and fills them with red wine and lime soda. What luck. Bibienne always drinks Spanish wine cocktails and breaks out the chocolate when Villegas is winning. Bibienne watches the end of the match with her lips parted and her hand across her heart. After the final point, she turns off the TV, fans her cheeks and sighs. “Él está bueno. Oh well, come see my new laptop. You can try it out while I top us off.”
The connection is lightning fast. I wish I had rippedspeed access to the Internet. Bibienne sets my glass at my elbow and peers over my shoulder. “Career Search Australia?” “Yeah. Look. They need a snake wrangler in Canberra. Wait a minute, there’s an opening at the Bikini Car Wash.” I click around. There are a zillion postings for jobs all around the world, from San Francisco to Shanghai. Even Kalamazoo has a raft of listings. Here, in the greater suburbs of the Boston Commonwealth, not so much. Unless I want to commute all the way into the city, like Donald does when he isn’t at the branch office here in town. Since Doubles got so busy, he has to go into the city more often than not these days.
Forget job searching for now. Bibi has a collection of fun apps on her desktop. I click on a Tarot icon. “Is this site any good?” “Yes, it’s one of the best,” she says. “If you want a quick reading, try the Celtic Cross spread.” Bibienne knows a lot about tarot. She’s so sharp and perceptive, her massage therapy clients are always asking her to read their cards for them. I type in my question: What does the future hold for me? The results show the Queen of Cups, seated in the auspicious Position One, which represents the “Questioner in Her Present Situation.”
“The Queen of Cups is the good woman card,” says Bibienne. “She’s loving and kind. A bit of a dreamer, distracted. But see? She sits on a throne, which means she wields power and makes the rules. The suit of cups represents emotions. Overflowing emotions, hidden emotions, secrets maybe. Who knows what’s in her cup?” “Bra cups, cups of laundry detergent, cups of wine.” Bibienne points to my glass. “Your cup of wine is empty.” Position Two shows the Three of Swords: a lowly card suggestive of trickery and betrayal. “That would be Daria and WiFiRobes,” I say as Bibienne refills my glass and sits beside me. “Could be.” She examines the spread. “The Three of Swords usually represents sudden heartbreak or betrayal. But look over here. Your Three is countered by the Two of Swords, which is about the difficulty of making decisions. That’s a double whammy. See the blindfold on the woman in the picture? She can’t see her way. She may not want to see, in fact, she may be in denial.”
It all makes sense. I’ve been betrayed, lost my job, and now I have to make choices about what to do next, right? More curious though is the appearance of the powerful and authoritative Emperor standing in opposition to my Queen. Donald perhaps? But, if the Emperor is my husband, who is the Knight of Cups occupying the near future position? The Knight of Cups is a man of high romance, poetry and passion. Here, Donald doesn’t spring to mind. How intriguing: the card drawn for the position representing Final Outcomes turns out to be The Lovers. As I wander back home I can’t help but note that two cups makes a couple.
About the author
Collette Yvonne was born in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, Canada where her father served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She has many fond memories of growing up as a military brat. Now married with three children, she lives in Ontario where she instructs yoga part-time, as well as writes. She also enjoys volunteering in the community. She graduated from Toronto’s York University, majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in the Humanities.
In her first year, she toyed with the idea of becoming an anthropologist and also considered being a computer scientist! However, following the opportunity to study under well-known Canadian authors such as Don Coles, Susan Swan, Elisabeth Harvor and Bruce Powe, she decided to stick with writing.
Collette’s first novel, ‘The Queen of Cups’, was published in August 2006 and was a finalist within its genre in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year. Other publication credits include many articles, stories, reviews and interviews in various Ontario local newspapers, and national Canadian publications including ‘The Toronto Star’, ‘The National Post’, ‘The Globe and Mail’ and ‘Canadian Woman Studies’. Her subjects tend to be personal journalism with pieces on a wide range of topics and she also likes to write in her blog, along with writing guest posts for other bloggers.
She is a member of the Writer’s Community of Durham Region (WCDR), and has developed skills as a photographer, speaker, website designer, editor, and writing workshop facilitator. Editorial contributions have been made to several published works, along with short non-fiction pieces. Indeed, she is equally at home writing both fiction and non-fiction. One of her short stories was made into a short film ‘Snapshots for Henry’, which was screened in numerous film festivals around the world. The film received a nomination for a Genie Award in 2007.
Praise for The Perils of Pauline
A deftly written, uproariously funny, exceptionally entertaining novel, The Perils of Pauline clearly documents Collette Yvonne as a gifted author of the first order. Impressively entertaining from beginning to end, The Perils of Pauline is very highly recommended reading for personal leisure time lists and would prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library General Fiction collections.
–Midwest Book Review, March 2015