The latest anthology of winning novelettes-in-flash from Retreat West offers up three intriguingly layered tales.
The first is the title novelette, Monsieur by David Rhymes. It opens with an impressively crafted line that succeeds in telling you reams about setting, time and character: “I tell Monsieur that if I were a man, I’d be a libertine, immune to the chains of propriety.”
That Jeannie, our heroine, is examining her master’s nipples “with the aid of an enlarging glass” within that page neatly informs us that this is a woman determined to explore life from every available viewpoint, unhindered both by class and gender.
A yearning for freedom and passion for the natural world hum throughout this densely and visually rich tale, as, encouraged by Monsieur, Jeannie disguises herself as the less fair sex and discovers a fresh side to her own nature: “with my chest pressed flat, my chin made sooty with a lick of dust, I felt more confident – I strode out in plain sight.”