About The Book
An uncomfortable but fascinating ripening journey.
Ahmed has abandoned her. Nadia is gone the way Isabelle did before, her two fallen warriors. But Marie can still hear His voice clearly.
A deep call for justice takes hold in an impressionable teenage girl from a recently broken family during a religious retreat; what happens next will mark her life for years to come.
the Retreat is a story of men playing God, of hurt that doesn’t find its way out.
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About the Setting
The story moves back and forth in time and place. From Brussel’s during Marie’s early teenage years with her mother and siblings, to Zermatt where she’s sent with the nuns on a fated ski trip. Years later in London, Marie is attempting to find a job and build a life with Ahmed who she met on a plane, when she’s lured to a Victorian bathhouse and meets troubled Nadia. But the book begins and ends after Marie’s London years, back in her natal Bordeaux. There Marie strikes the final blow in her prodigal daughter’s return of sorts.
Marie is cute with a sexy gap like a secret passage between her upper incisors. She was once a diligent student, before her estranged dad left them or was driven away, or they left and he failed to follow the family to Brussels. But soon after her ski trip trouble, she’s labelled a rebel by her conservative single mother whose only hobby is work and only God is sacrifice, accused that her kind of righteousness gets them into trouble. Is God where Marie’s fight started? She thinks when people have faith in nothing they’re less dangerous. Why can’t she marry well like her older sister or build a successful career like her brother? She tries shortly with Ahmed in London, until Nadia lures her back into her old destructive ways, eventually prompting Marie’s return to her natal town where nothing has changed. There Marie feels blamed for her younger sister Lucie’s depression, her marriage to old peasant Raoul and her recently found fervour to breed donkeys. Marie knows Lucie is angry against her and she’s angry back. How many things have happened in Marie’s short life! Has Marie inherited them in a way? Who has forced them upon her?
Meet Marie’s Teacher and School Friends
Hélène is endowed with breasts big enough that she would still be liked even if she was ever forced iron on her smile. Hélène has been there for ages and is confident in and out of school premises, talking to the school’s staff, with colleagues of every race, sex, colour and nationality. She’s even fun. She is every classmate’s dream and every teacher’s pet, and the section’s headteacher is her father, her surname forever capable of favouring her. She’s definitely trouble.
Martine emulates Hélène in every way she can, even if she falls desperately short of her goal: other than for her derrière extraordinaire, she seems a good for nothing girl, hardly a genius.
Monsieur Berger, the religion teacher, wears large Italian spectacles he claims to have bought in Rome whilst on a visit to the Pope and uses a few long strands of white hair to pretend he isn’t bold. His skin, especially around his hands and eyes, is wrinkly, pale and freckly, and his fingers tremble during his impassioned oratories, making him look like a Mayan idol whose touch unleashes visions from dubious gods. Monsieur Berger exclusively wears brown corduroys, paired with pale cashmere turtlenecks and shirts which look far too expensive for anyone vowing poverty like he insists he does. And he often delivers the full lesson with his zip undone. The rumour is Monsieur Berger was not always the religious type but has a florid past. Are clumsy Sister Perline and sour Sister Prudence covering for him?
Isabelle’s a very quiet girl, not as sexy-pretty as Hélène, but still deliciously put together down to every centimetre allocated to her face and body, except for her dark, luscious half-eyebrow. Where’s the other half gone?
Ahmed is on his early twenties with captivating eyelashes, working in a bank in London. The day Marie met him she thought he was it; understood
that much of what she had been missing and actually required was in his love. She temporarily felt locked outside of her misery. But it turns out the man was tormented by the curse of ambition, like a prospector in the Wild West, ready to suppress every good bit of himself for no trouble to come his way. Ahmed had been put there to fill a void. Yet after a year they had been together he had not managed to modify a thing in Marie, nor to impress in her body one lasting imprint: nothing of him had endured.
The same thin, long neck as Isabelle. The same straight black mane of hair. The same thick, dark eyebrows; both eyebrows. Her hands, one slightly deformed. In the haze of the baths Marie thinks Nadia’s stomach looks so tiny, her belly button so pretty. Her voice is gentle almost that of a ghost. ‘Do you believe in God?’ Nadia has lost a sister to a fire and her brother is angry. When she extends her sponge, Marie’s ready to let the young woman invade her like a peacekeeping force.
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About the Author
Mari.Reiza was born in Madrid in 1973. She has worked as an investment research writer and management consultant for twenty years in London. She studied at Oxford University and lives off Portobello Road with her husband and child.