Perhaps a bookclub? Occasionally, Marie-Louise can stay until noon, and M. Wroblewski can go up to Montparnasse and read the newspapers. Perhaps they could choose their first selection from Blaise Forain’s catalogue.
Because even though I’ve only known him for a few pages, I hope that the Wroblewskis will be able to find those “chinks of light” more readily in the days to come.
Not that Magda is unhappy. She’s troubled by the neighbour who plays Schubert late at night and in the mornings she “refuses to understand the first thing about buttons, zippers, a comb, a toothbrush”, and she heads off into the city when unattended, travelling to a places she used to frequent (or, aiming to, anyhow). But she’s not unhappy.
It’s a lot for Maciej (Matthias, Magda calls him the diminuative, Maciek) though. He has to carry her timeline and his own, as well as theirs. When he finds a letter that she has written, everything “is true, if you imagine that today is unwinding some forty-five years ago”.
The story is bookended by Magda’s letter and Maciek’s letter. In his, he describes himself as “boringly optimistic” and readers see the events of his life told in a slant. He is telling the truth, too. The truth as viewed through one of those “chinks of light”.
The enduring presence of fascism and white supremacy, the frustration of an interrupted sleep and poor health, the walls closing in, a fear that one will not be able to locate a caregiver for a surviving pet, that funeral costs will remain uncovered: there are so many things for M. Wroblewski to worry about.
And M. Wroblewski’s worries are our worries. If not today’s, then tomorrow’s.