Marie Antoinette - synopsis

by Ed Wilson

Image for cover of Ed Wilson's book Marie Antoinette

They wanted a lift and I wanted a destination, so I ended up in Newquay. And spent the next twenty years walking back.

2005  David lives a limited life with few memories.  His social worker sees progress and he agrees, though he has his secrets.  He rarely thinks of his beloved guitar in the spare room, and denies even to himself that he might take it out sometimes and stroke the strings.  On his fiftieth birthday he takes himself for a drink, finds himself playing the piano, remembers some old tunes and meets Tam.

She shares his liking for the music of Tom FitzGerald (never quite a star but once his inspiration), and seems to have had a more intimate connection with the man, which reminds him of something.  She wants David to play guitar with her, and he doesn't know which way to run.

1981  Dancer is David's band, David's songs, his life.  They all have day jobs and he fears they will never break out of the local scene.  But he can't do it himself.  Supremely confident on stage, he has no drive to go further.  And when he becomes fascinated with the unattainable Marie Antoinette and convinced that she was Tom FitzGerald's lover, something breaks inside.  He plays her a song one night, she puts a finger to his lips – “No, don't sing.”  His hero and his own voice are no longer his.

For drive, look no further than Gus, whose band STOP have less talent but better prospects.  Gus poaches David to play guitar, but again his voice is not required.  We follow STOP for a handful of dates, but Dancer find him – he never told them, he never left.  He can't defend himself, drops everything and runs.  Exhaustion battling amphetamines, he reaches Cornwall where, after mindless sex and many pills, he burns his car out and collapses.  He is kicked out of town, his personality fading with the drugs.  He walks on with torn clothes and disappears from view.

2005  Tam coaxes him to her house, sits at the keyboard and they play.  He can do anything she asks of him but gives nothing more.  Frustrated, she storms out and leaves him to have a beer with her partner, who laughs at his assumptions about Tam and FitzGerald – not every woman David meets has slept with his hero.  He remembers Marie Antoinette and years of anguished and belittling dreams.  In a few moments the obsession crumbles away, releasing him to an unfamiliar freedom.

On Tam's return David lifts his guitar, clears his throat and, for the first time in a quarter of a century, offers to sing.

The third draft is complete - about 76,000 words - and the agents are taking a look.