I came home today, after a weekend away working on edits to my novel, to an email from Dr Erik-Jan Bos, a Descartes’ scholar. Over the past couple of years, Dr Bos has kindly and patiently answered my questions on Descartes, as I first researched, then drafted, and redrafted my work.
My novel tells the story of the hidden love between Dutch maid, Helena Jans, and Descartes, a relationship which spanned a decade or more, and which ended in Egmond aan den Hoef. Dr Bos had been invited to talk in Egmond and visited Helena’s grave whilst he was there. Her grave has only recently been discovered.
Her voice, as I imagined it, has been in my head for the past two years. My novel is finished; her story told as well as I could tell it.
But the image of Helena’s grave has moved me deeply. She is more than words on the page in the end.