GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 3, 2013

Jazz chanteuse pens first novel, 'The Frenchman'

Jazz chanteuse pens first novel, 'The Frenchman'

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — Barbara Boudreau is known for her musical performances with her husband Al Boudreau and an assortment of top jazz musicians. But now she is revealing another side to her artistic spirit with the launch of her debut book.

The release of the novel “The Frenchman” will take place during a musical literary evening at the Rocky Neck Cultural Center at 6 Wonson St. in Gloucester on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. The event will feature a cocktail party, jazz music by the Boudreaus and a reading from the novel.

One of Boudreau’s favorite actors — Jean Reno, a French actor of Spanish ancestry — inspired the title and one of the characters. The book involves robbery, escape, a pursuit and romance. “The Frenchman” is Jean LaChance, who is running from his criminal past and finds more than he expected in the California desert when he runs into Lilly Parsons and her three children.

The book begins with LaChance, a renowned French thief who escaped from France after a badly botched job, going to Los Angeles to meet his partner in crime. Instead, at a remote rendezvous, he meets the guy’s girlfriend.

“Over four days they forge a sense of belonging for the first time in their lives — loneliness and despair begin to melt away,” according to the jacket cover. “But this bond of trust is seemingly broken when Lilly flees with the children, unaware that the (stolen) money is in the trunk of her car. Now LaChance is in determined pursuit of the woman and children he has grown to love, but he is unconvinced of their motive for leaving, taking the money and sending the cops. What will he do when he finds them?”

Boudreau said she has worked for the past four years on this novel.

“It’s an exciting time in life. Releasing a novel is like growing up all over again,” she said. “The writing was fun, self-reflective work involving many forks in the road. Fortunately, it was not a solo journey. There were so many people that helped along the way, much like a long road trip with flat tires, good and bad weather and varying road surfaces, but now, it’s done.”

An Internet review website gave the book a high mark:

“From the beginning of this fantastic novel through to the end, it holds you on the edge of your seat, not letting go ... for anything. This review is probably going to be very short, for the simple fact that this book is so good. The characters ... are perfect. We love and hate the main character at the same time. The language used in the story is lush and ingenious, and that is what held me in its grip,” wrote Josiah Morgan, of The Review Hutch.

Boudreau said the book began to germinate in 2009 when she and her husband were stuck in the Bahamas due to stormy weather and could not sail to their next destination. Not long after, she had a dream, which in essence became the book’s first scene.

“I woke up that morning and literally had nothing to do. I made the coffee and started writing it down on my laptop, and I kept writing and writing. For a week, I sat at a picnic table in the Bahamas and kept writing,” she said.

She finished “The Frenchman” in her hometown of Gloucester.

Boudreau said the whole affair of writing a novel was serendipitous.

“I didn’t realize until later in life that I was an artist at heart. It came to me from heaven on a beam of light,” she said. “The story is kind of a wild ride.”

Boudreau is making the final edits to a sequel to her first novel.

“I never intended to write a book,” she said. “Like a lot of people, I thought I had a book in me and this one just poured out of me.”

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445, or gmccarthy@gloucestertimes.com.

If you go What and who: Book release party for "The Frenchman" by Barbara Boudreau. When: Sunday, Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. Where: Rocky Neck Cultural Center, 6 Wonson St. in Gloucester. How much: Free to the public.