Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #33

TITLE: Stoking Hope
GENRE: Adult Women's Fiction

London 1894

She slipped, the steamer trunk falling from her grasp. Marie righted her bonnet and looked at her husband.

Karl Kraus grunted and pointed to their trunk’s corner, a fresh dent marring the smooth tin.

Es tut mir leid,” Marie apologized. A hand on the trunk’s lid, she dragged her boot along the bricks, scraping horse droppings from her sole. Raised on a farm, she was used to manure, but there was so much of it here. So much of everything. Buildings. Horses. And people, pushing and yelling their way across the city that was dark in mid-afternoon.

Englisch,” Karl said.

Marie spoke little English. She grew up believing she would never leave Germany, believing she would never need another language, but when she accepted Karl's proposal, he announced they would be emigrating to America. Eyes closed, she pictured home. Verdant meadows surrounded by dense forests. Dark birds wheeling through a sapphire sky. Tears threatened and she fought against them. Married three weeks, she already learned her husband loathed weeping. Loathed any weakness. Marie was tired of holding back her tears. Her father frowned upon them the day she married. Her mother scolded her for crying the morning after her wedding. And Karl forbid her tears when she said goodbye to her family for the last time and climbed into the back of the wagon that took her to a train station in Dusseldorf for the journey to London.


  1. I can picture this scene immediately. Excellent description. Karl seems like a real jerk. Knowing that her wedding night was awful, that he is a stern, unyielding, possibly abusive man, I'd like to feel her fear of him as she drops the trunk. More than telling us about the forbidden tears, I want her eyes to fill with them, and then fight them back, making sure he doesn't see. I also want her to kick his butt later, so hurry up and get this published.

  2. I think the first sentence should start with "Marie". For a moment I thought she may be a different person than the "She" referenced. Otherwise I have a great sense of place and Marie's first conflict with her husband and new life. There is a lot packed into the last paragraph. It may work as 2 separate ones. Very nice writing. I definitely feel for her already.

  3. Adding to the two previous spot-on comments: 'train station in Düsseldorf for the journey to London' implies a train connects the two. Maybe say..."for the first leg of their journey to London." It's the small historical details that often pull the reader out of a great scene. Yup. Can't wait to see this published, too.

  4. This was a nice opening. It immediately sets up time and place, and then goes on to explore Marie and her world. When I finish reading the excerpt, I know exactly what kind of story I'm getting, I'm seeing a problem, and it all makes me wonder how she will handle the predicament she is in. I'd read more.

    Perhaps you might add whatever it was that induced her to accept karl's proposal, as well as a short bit of what she fears most in leaving the world she knows behind. It could show us a bit more of who Marie is as a person.

  5. I thought this was very good. I was immediately drawn to both characters for different reasons and wanted to know more. The descriptions were well done (I agree with the earlier comment on the train though - easily fixed). There has to be a reason Marie married Karl - perhaps adding some positive characteristic about him or something to explain why, if he's a less than wonderful guy, she married him. For example, was he loaded up with trunks or suitcases, forcing her to carry more than she can handle? Or is he really as bad as he seems, again making me wonder why she married him, especially since her father seems displeased.

    I immediately felt the scene too - nice job!

  6. Interesting backstory being established here. How old is the character? Why is she married to this man she hasn't known long, especially considering her mother and father don't seem to have approved of the marriage? I am a tad concerned by the use of emigrating over immigrating and what that could mean for the accuracy of other details throughout, but it's a common spelling error, so may really come to nothing in regards to an indication of other things. Also, she's from Germany, this scene is taking place in London, and they're going to America. I'm curious as to why this is the point at which the manuscript begins. Does something happen here, or why don't we start the story in America? To encompass more the initial getting to know one another? If so, I hope we soon learn how these two came to be married. I would read more, but I do have a lot of questions I hope are answered within the first chapter. On a small note, too, I would start with the name being used in the first sentence, then switch to the pronoun in the second. Regardless, nice writing overall, and I would keep reading if there were more here.