Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Secret Agent #34

TITLE: The Judgment of Solomon
GENRE: Adult Historical Romance

Friday, 22 February 1946
Krakow, Poland

           Lidia was bent over the sink, scrubbing the utensils until they gleamed in the faint kerosene lamp lit room. Wisps of hair sprang free from the clasp that held her golden locks back. The humidity from the scalding water made her skin sticky. Her day at the factory had been an arduous one, followed by a two-kilometer stroll home, and then she spent an hour preparing dinner. She was exhausted; her muscles knotted between her shoulders and her ankles ached. She ought to have been in a bad mood.

            Instead, she was bemused.

            Her daughters, Sophie and Ewa’s lively chatter from the kitchen table brought a tiny smile to Lidia’s face. They were sketching everything from Father Cieslik to a neighborhood cat on a scrap of paper, using the nub of a pencil. Life was a constant struggle but her girls were worth every hardship.

            An impatient knock summoned her from her chore. Drying her hands on her apron, Lidia swept through the sitting room. Answering the door, she found a man on the doorstep. He was slightly taller than she was and spare. His graying hair uncommonly long, fell on the upturned collar of his coat. Only men mimicking the way poet Juliusz Slowacki dressed, calling it the “Slowacki look” wore their hair that long. Twin lines made parentheses beginning at his nose and ending by his chin, barricading his thin lips.


  1. Your sentences need to be tightened.try to rewrite to get rid of some ing words. I like the opening how you let us know about this woman right away and it seems an inciting incident is happening soon. Good job.

  2. I agtee about the writibg. It can be tightened a lot. An active, showing style, rather than a passive, telling one, will clear most of that up.

    My other suggestions are all tiny nitpicks. Maybe say what kind of factory she worked in. Did she really stroll (slow, leisurely walk) home, or was it more like trudging since she was hot and tired and her ankles ached? Might she exchange a word or two with her daughters as she goes to answer the door? Adding little details could add a bit more color/life to the piece.

  3. I also wondered about strolled. Seemed likely the wrong word. I loved the last line. Very unique description. I assume the Polish poet will be important somehow, hence the mimicking look being worth the mention?


  4. Very interesting setting. I love the tidbit about the "Slowacki" look. Sounds like a good read.

    Your first paragr could be split. The 2nd starting at "Her day ..." I agree with the ladies above that the verbs should be active. Perhaps you could dispense with a couple of the sentences of description to move the story forward.

    Maybe the paragr about the girls could be squeezed into the second page and more about the exchange with the man on the first page.

    Also, the last paragr could be shorter. Instead of telling so much I'd like to read her reaction to him like did he look down his nose at her, was he frowning, quirking his eyebrows at her and how did she feel about it?

    I like to read it someday. I love historical stories.

  5. This was a pleasant read, and I'm curious what happens next. From the first paragraph, I didn't expect her to have children for some reason, but once that was established, the beginning reminded me of Little Women from the mother's perspective (probably because your mention of her being "bemused," and that's the picture I have of the smile). Anyway... The last paragraph adds a nice description and sets us up with an expectation of something about to be shared or experienced, and I'm wondering if it has to do with the dad or the war or both; either way, I'd keep reading. I do wonder about the mention of Juliusz Slowacki, though. I'm concerned that may be period research that worked its way in a bit too strongly, given the need to put quotations around the style mention. Rather than mentioning the style and having the reader look it up, I think it would be more natural (and more helpful to the reader) to simply describe the appearance unless the desire to look like the poet, rather than simply being historically accurate, is going to be important.