Title: Last Letter from Gurs
Word count: 83,000
Genre: Upmarket Women’s Fiction
Art director Stephanie Britain would rather watch plums turn to prunes than see a bunch of soldiers pretend-shoot each other. But luckily, there’s more to see at Spirit of the 40s. While wandering through vintage cars, Stephanie stumbles upon a flea market selling love letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for her client’s website. Instead, Stephanie discovers one isn’t a love letter after all. Izzy Fischer was just five years old when his mother wrote to New York relatives while she and her son were imprisoned at Camp Gurs in France. Moved by the woman’s plight, Stephanie must find out if the boy is still alive.
Stephanie's search takes her to central Virginia, where she meets Izzy, a 75-year-old Holocaust survivor who’s more into playing Xbox than talking about his past. They form a fast bond—one that distracts her from office politics and the recent loss of her father. During one of Izzy’s visits, Stephanie looks at her Spirit of the 40s photos and notices one of the German reenactors is owner of Martin Chocolates, a sizable account her design firm just won.
When she learns Martin’s anti-Semitic ways are more than a weekend act, Stephanie isn’t comfortable working with him. If she tells her boss, it could jeopardize her job. Worse yet, if Martin finds out, there’s no telling what he’ll do. Izzy wants her to let it go, but she has a hard time following his advice. Stephanie must make a difficult decision—one that could give her peace of mind, yet ruin her career in the process.
First 250 words:
It all started with the Moo Shoo Chicken, wreaking havoc on my brother-in-law in the upstairs bathroom. I really felt for Jay, but had no desire to wear the shaggy costume meant for him. Maggie stood next to me while the kids ran around, some playing tag, others spilling punch on the floor.
“Hey, guys,” she said, “put down the juice boxes, or somebody’s gonna get hurt.”
I bent down to help her clean up the mess. “I hope Jay’s okay.”
Maggie gave me a mischievous look, as if she were about to share some juicy gossip about a neighbor on her cul-de-sac. Instead, she wanted me to take Jay’s place and dress up as Spot the Dog. She asked twice then begged. It brought me back to when she wasn’t quite six years old, jumping around on my pink shag carpet insisting I let her listen to my 45s.
“Why me? Why can’t you wear it?” I asked.
“Because I’m reading. And you’re taller—it’ll fit you better.”
I washed my hands and reached for some pretzels. “Uh-huh, great excuse.”
There wasn’t enough birthday cake or ice cream to make me say yes. “I’m claustrophobic,” I could say. “I’m allergic to dogs,” crossed my mind, even though I had my own version of Spot, a German Shepherd named Ginger. But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t disappoint my nephew, Evan, on his fourth birthday. So, on a afternoon, I became Spot.