If I told you there was a character just like that in my novel “Everyone Evelon”, you would think she was a boring character. On the contrary, Francine LaPensee is a quiet, driving force within the story. She is presented as a good wife and mother, always ready to welcome visitors to her home, but her character is very complex and sensitive to others’ needs.
An example of this is how she treats her cousin, Fauve Evelon. Fauve is rude and expects to be waited on, simply because she is a guest. Francine plans and prepares a delicious meal single-handedly, yet Fauve tells her that she only expects the freshest food. Francine never rises to a level of discontent, but instead, makes pleasant conversation with everyone and makes sure that everyone has enough to eat.
She is very mindful of her daughter, Suzette. Suzette is a handful, but a good girl. She is years ahead of her age and there is never a dull moment, when Suzette is around. Francine is mostly in the background of this story. Her husband, Alain, provides the dialogue, but they act as one in their thoughts and feelings.
Much of the story passes before Francine is introduced back into the story line. Life is like that. We may spend a lot of time with someone and then we grow apart and only reconnect years later. There is usually a reason for the split and the reunion.
In this novel, Maryse and Yvon move to Quebec, so they separate themselves from Rhode Island and Maryse’s family and co-workers. They re-unite, because tragedy struck. As Maryse struggles to get past a horrible reality, both Francine and Alain come to her aid.
Vaguely, Yvon knows that they’ve been through something similar, but he and Maryse are so involved in themselves that they can’t relate to anyone else. As the LaPensee’s arrive for a visit, Francine knows that she still can’t speak about that part of her experience or she feels that Alain is closer to Maryse and that he is the best person to talk to her.
The reader never knows for sure how Francine feels, because Alain has the heart-to-heart talk with Maryse, but the reader finds out through Alain’s dialogue what Francine felt all those years ago. Even after they have the talk and Maryse and Yvon talk about changing their future, Francine still doesn’t express her thoughts or feelings about it. Instead, she relishes her role as wife and mother and continues to let Yvon and Maryse grapple with their present and future situation.
Francine is a strong character, because she could have taken over and given the reader and the other characters her tale of woe, but she realizes, all too well, that Maryse has to go through all of the pain, suffering, and anxiety, before she can begin to live her new life. Francine knows that no one can do that for her, so simply being there and gently encouraging her through patience and time, Maryse works on her problem and is ready to move forward.
Alain, and of course Suzette play a role in Maryse’s change of heart, but Francine is the character that lets nature take its course.
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