Title: THE MEASURE OF SILENCE
Age Category: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 129,000
Pitch: In Renaissance France—where a woman’s selling her words is as scandalous as selling her body—one poet’s groundbreaking quest for publication ignites a deadly frenzy of recrimination and revenge.
First 250 Words:
It has been mine for two months, but still this name confounds me: Giuseppina. Giuseppina Guillaume. My tongue stumbles over its unfamiliar syllables; my hand, as I sign, hesitates, threatens to trace instead the pattern of my other name, my other self. My husband calls two, three times before I respond; my ear, accustomed to the harsh staccato of my childhood name, catches not the languid softness of this new one. Giuseppina.
Not for me, the simple exchange of family names, father’s for husband’s. The name bestowed on me at baptism, the standard of my shriven soul, was token for this trade. In its place a rustic pennant droops, spattered and besmirched. I drape its folds about me, but it does not hide my shame.
Far from home, I bear the name of the patron of the hearth. San Giuseppe, protect me, sinner though I am! Each dawn the graying light scrambles the fragments of my foolish dreams. The stranger beside me stirs and wakes; the sight of my swollen belly spurs him, clumsy and discomforted, from bed. Tomaso, too, has paid a heavy price for his devotion. Was it greed or pity that prompted his assent to these neat plans? Pity is but another stone hurled at my head; greed, at least, makes us equals in disgrace. Would that he felt something more, that I might slip love’s uncertain chains! But duty holds his passions fast. In truth, I should welcome his stiff courtesy.
I call my husband stranger, yet it is I who am unknown, foreign even in this city of nations.