Rebecca D’Harlingue has studied Spanish literature, worked as a hospital administrator, and taught English as a Second Language to adults from all over the world. In her award-winning dual timeline novel, The Lines Between Us, she highlights the resilience of women, and explores the repercussions of family secrets. She is a member of Paper Lantern writers, an author collective.
She lives in Oakland, California with her husband, Arthur, where they are fortunate to frequently spend time with their children and grandchildren.
More Books by
In 1661 Madrid, Ana’s niece, sixteen-year-old Juliana, vanishes. Ana frantically searches the girl’s room and comes across a diary. Journeying to southern Spain in the hope of finding her, Ana immerses herself in her niece’s private thoughts. After a futile search in Seville, she comes to Juliana’s final entries, and, discovering the horrifying reason for the girl’s flight, abandons her search.
In 1992 Missouri, in her deceased mother’s home, Rachel finds a packet of letters and a diary written by a woman named Juliana. Rachel recognizes the name her mother uttered on her deathbed. She soon becomes immersed in Juliana’s diary, which recounts her journey to Mexico City and her life in a convent. As she learns the truth about Juliana’s tragic family history, Rachel seeks to understand her connection to the writings―hoping that in finding those answers, she will somehow heal the wounds caused by her mother’s lifelong reticence.
The Lines Between Us
Will she somehow heal the wounds caused by her mother’s lifelong reticence?
Book Excerpt or Article
She let her thoughts linger on those memories until she heard loud voices, and Clara suddenly entered. “Doña Ana, come quickly! It is old Fernando. He is very upset, but none of us can make sense of what he is saying.”
Ana put a robe over her nightclothes, quickly followed Clara, and found Fernando, Sebastián’s manservant, seated on a stool. He was quiet now, having exhausted what air was left to him after his walk from Sebastián’s home.
When he saw Ana, he began again. “How to explain? Gone! No one saw . . . and then I looked for . . .”
“Calm yourself, Fernando.” Ana took his hand. “Look at me and take slow, deep breaths. Compose yourself and begin again, please, very slowly. What has you so agitated, my friend? Who is gone, Fernando?”
“Both, all, Don Sebastián, the señorita, and even my Silvia.” At this last he could contain himself no longer, and tears welled up in his eyes. Silvia and Fernando had served in the same house for over forty years, he manifestly loving her for all of them. Though Ana believed that he had once
hoped for more, it seemed that he had long since learned to live on the sisterly regard that was all that Silvia was willing to offer him. Ana had often thought this hard of Silvia, but Silvia kept her own counsel in these things, and Sebastián’s household ever esteemed a circumspect woman.
Clara shook her head. “Gone? Surely the ladies just went to Mass, and surely the master has no need to make an accounting to you of his whereabouts.”
Ana looked reprovingly at Clara for her lack of sympathy at Fernando’s distress, and even in his present state, Fernando’s face made it clear that he did not have to accept condescension from another servant.
“Please, explain yourself more clearly, Fernando,” Ana tried again. “What do you mean?”
“They are not just gone out for the day, señora. There was chaos in the señorita’s room, as Silvia never would allow, and clothes were clearly missing.”
“And my brother’s room, and Silvia’s?”
“Don Sebastián’s room is orderly, as always, and I could not see that any clothes had been taken, but he also left before the household was up and about. Silvia’s room . . .” Here the old man could not continue but simply wept, as though recalling what he had seen but could not describe.
“Well, I’m sure that there is some explanation, and that my brother will inform us of it when he returns, which will surely be today, since he at least has taken no change of attire, and we all know how fastidious he is about his appearance.” Ana was certain of this aspect of her response, but it was difficult to imagine why her niece and Silvia might have left so unexpectedly.
Fernando clearly needed more reassurance than this, and Ana suggested, “Perhaps Juliana and Silvia decided to gather some old, unneeded clothing and wished to distribute it to the poor.”
“But why so early, señora, and why so secretly?”
More Articles and Excerpts by
and other authors
Teri M Brown