Next Thursday 8 December sees the publication of Breakfast at the Hotel Deja Vu by Paul Torday. This exciting new novella is only available as an eBook, for the princely sum of just 99p, and we’re giving you the opportunity to read the opening here.
‘The view from the window of his hotel room was just as he had hoped it would be. Twenty feet below Bobby’s window was the decking of a sun terrace. Faded white umbrellas sheltered sets of wooden chairs and round tables. He opened the window and leaned out to obtain a better view. He could glimpse the tops of the heads of a few people who were enjoying the afternoon sunshine, or else sitting in the shade reading newspapers. Beyond the decking, wide stone steps led down into a sort of garden: a garden in the Mediterranean manner, of course, with few flowers and a number of bushes and shrubs dotted around an area of scruffy brown grass. A gravel path meandered through this undistinguished space and then disappeared between two tall cypresses. He knew somehow that this path descended to the rocky seashore and then followed its line around the promontory to the headland. There were no other buildings in sight, just an uninterrupted view of the blue sea.
And what a blue! It reflected an untroubled sky in which the sun was now sinking. There was no wind – at least, there were no white caps on the water, just a glassy calm stretching away into the infinite distance. He breathed in, experiencing a sensation of pure pleasure at having arrived here after a tedious journey. There must have been some faint breeze, for he sensed it against his cheeks and, at the same time, became aware of the inimitable fragrance of thyme, and rosemary and myrtle, that he associated with this part of the world.
A faint click made him turn around and he saw that his suitcases had been brought upstairs: discreetly, for he had not been aware of the porter either entering or leaving his room. Well, the man couldn’t expect to get a tip if he didn’t let people know he was there. Bobby decided that he might as well unpack first, before indulging in any exploration of the hotel. Unpacking was an activity he always enjoyed. He supposed it was some sort of nesting instinct. He hung up his suits in the large oak wardrobe: a beige linen suit to wear on expeditions into the village; a dark-blue suit to wear in the hotel restaurant in case it should be one of those places where people dressed up in the evenings; and a lightweight tweed suit for walking on the rocky hillsides above the hotel. He had read – or someone had told him – that the views were delightful. There was an old monastery, clinging to the side of the mountains, that he believed would repay a visit. Next he set out the leather boxes containing his cuff links and collar stiffeners, and his set of ivory-backed hair brushes. In the bathroom he laid out his razor, shaving brushes, and various lotions. He had not packed his pill boxes. He had finished with pills. At one point during his illness he had been taking ten different things in the morning and the same again at night. What a bore it had been!
But that was all in the past. The illness that had nearly killed him, the operation that had saved him, and the long and dreary recuperation that followed – all the details had faded from his memory leaving behind only a sensation of unpleasantness gone by, and the hope of better times to come. Now he was as good as new: or rather, he was new, quite new. It was as if he was beginning his life all over again. He was looking forward to a few weeks of absolute rest and quiet, interspersed with some light brainwork: some ideas he was turning over in his mind for a memoir. But it would not be the usual self-congratulatory political biography. He wanted to attempt something more interesting than that.’
(Originally published at the W&N Fiction blog.)