Vale of Years: Charles Schneider
Deception and deceit are at the heart of this second novel by author Charles Schneider as we once again meet Suzanne Bruante whose past will remain in the 21st century and whose present will go back in time. Susanne is cunning, smart and has created what she thinks is a masterful plot to gain recognition, status and live her life as someone else. Within the 21st century she was the assistant director of a museum realizing that in order to gain some type of fame of recognition she would had to find a way to present her findings and research about a painting from the past. But, when the model, Nicole Bruante winds up at her doorstep she devises a devious plot that is quite astounding. Nicole and Susanne look so much alike except for a beauty mark that one has and the other does not, you would think they were twins or dead ringers for each other. But, Nicole finds her way into this century in a unique way brilliantly created by our author: Time travel or Time shells is the method he created and opening a portal or wormhole is how someone winds up going forward or back in time. But, when Nicole is about to embark on a trip back Susanne decides that she will take her place and shoots through the time shell back to 1877 and winds up in Nicole’s house.
Nicole has a young child that is cared for by her mother and it does not take very long before the mother and child realizes that something is quite off about the person they think is Nicole. But, our time traveler is smart, cunning and by the time they figure it out she has come up with a plan do devious, diabolical and cunning they never see it coming. The Vale of Year or Mortal or earthly life; Just how does this all play out you won’t believe as you enter the world of art, the home of two brothers who are quite different and learn just how each one of the characters in this novel live under their own vale of secrets, lies and betrayals.
Two brothers both wanting the same thing and yet going about it in a different way. One holding a young girl captive you might say in order to have his way with her provide her with a home and hopefully spark his painting career in a new direction. The insecurity of one and the cunningness of another as we meet Anne Marie Hagen who falls a man named Martial one of two brothers in the field of art and painting yet so different. While Gustave wanted to deal with photography and Martial with painting both wanted to expand their horizons by painting nude models. Here is where Susanne’s plan to deceive and create her own personal persona to benefit herself was conceived. While both brothers wanted her one would seem like he owned her as she managed to find a way to make Anne Marie insecure, forcing her hand and making her want nothing to do with Susanne or Charlotte as she wanted to be called. When sleeping with Gustave and working with him she was Charlotte when sleeping with great artists like Renoir and Cezanne she was herself. But, the research from the past would help her create her present, as she knew more about each brother, the painting picture that would immortalize her and the money she hoped to inherit if Gustave named her his beneficiary. But, enter Rene, the middle brother who everyone thought dead. Returning home and of course wanting his share of his father’s money and more would start another chain of events that just might take Susanne on another journey hoping to keep it from Gustave.
The declining years of the life, the world, the declining years of someone who wanted to always remain seductive and even immortal. The author weaves many different stories and plots as he tells them through the eyes of a narrator divorcing himself from the story and making it seem as if he is retelling it through indifferent eyes. As he recaps how Marie/aka Anne Marie and Susanne met, how they became friends and how Martial convinced Marie to pose together with Susanne, you begin to understand the lust, the desire and hold she had on both brothers yet in the end Marie finally asserts herself and Martial concedes to her wishes. Within this story there is journal relating the events that one character wants to share and will surprise readers as the story continues to unfold, the history behind Rene Caillebotte is revealed and how he felt like an outcast, not cared for and wanting to belong to his family. But, Rene returns and Gustave has always been dubbed the good son, excelling in everything he did and Martial artistic and Gustave smart. Getting to know why Rene felt inferior is revealed on pages 130- 132.
Sometimes old friendships can bring surprising results as Renoir and Rene meet after all these years and the truth about Susanne is revealed. Is she really Charlotte or is she Susanne? What would Rene do with this information and how would he use it to his advantage? As Martial was with Marie and Marie distrusted Susanne she insisted that she never come to their home, protecting her husband and keeping her husband close to her and far away from Susanne. Susanne was clever and although Rene meant nothing to her she managed to convince him that she cared. But, revelations and honesty just might ruin it all as she recalls from the future that Gustave would not live much longer and with the help of someone she hoped to make it a reality. Knowing that the only reason she wanted Gustave Caillebotte and did not care if she cheated on him was his inheritance and all of his paintings and wealth, would cause Charlotte/Susanne to conceive a plot that only author Charles Schneider could create and the end result startling. Within Chaper 20 the author recaps how Gustave pulled Marie as you might say “out of the frying pan,” and how Martial was the first man to accept her package and all, she would do anything to keep him away from Charlotte as the author reminds us of the photography session that would change all four lives. Concessions made, alliances formed and Marie forced into posing with Susanne to make Martial happy. But, the end result would surprise everyone, as Marie made sure that Martial would be hers devoid of temptation. But, Susanne entrusted her story to the wrong person and decided to make sure that her inheritance would not be questioned. Just what happens to Gustave and how he dies you will have to learn but be careful before licking a stamp? Just what happens when Rene decides to go after Susanne when she quickly casts him aside? What happens when Elle learns the truth? Who remains in the present? Who goes to the future and who lives in the past? An ending so masterfully created you won’t see it coming? A mother who is relentless and just wants to know the truth about her daughter and a woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants? Who wins? Who loses? Who faces some harsh realities and who finds out the true meaning of THE VALE OF YEARS! farewell; goodbye:
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/ MJ Magazine