Set in early 1400s Europe, Close Your Eyes is a sincere, yet light-hearted and lustful, ode to love. As Samuel, the court jester, struggles to describe why his friends, Agnieszka the cook, and Tycho the story-teller, fled the King of Gora's service, he learns that love was the beating heart behind everything that happened in the castle. He learns as well that more ghosts than he knew of walked the midnight halls, and that the spirit of Jeanne d'Arc haunted his friend, and once slid into bed with Tycho, daring him to leave - to take to the cold roads of Europe, where he had once wandered orphaned and alone, and find his destiny there.
Book Buy Link: https://geni.us/closeyoureyes
Chris Tomasini is a writer living in Ontario, Canada.
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Chris spent two summers in England in the mid 1990s. He taught English as a Second Language in Europe and Asia in the late 1990s, and, since 2000, has worked in bookstores, publishing, and libraries.
He has studied creative writing through Humber College's Correspondence Program in Creative Writing, and via the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
If he isn't parenting, working, or writing, he is riding a bicycle.
Find out more at www.christomasini.ca
"Love it would seem, requires a crusade - a crusade fought with kindness and generosity, and acclaimed by the joyous bells of a thousand city squares: bells which ring out across blue horizons, telling a continent to close its eyes, to dream beautifully and to wake with hope."
“Close Your Eyes” is a historical fiction fairy tale that transcends the expected 'once upon a time' tales of childhood and propels the adult reader into the stark realities of life, love, and loss. In rich, vibrant, literature-worthy prose, Chris Tomasini's genius matches the very character he speaks of in his story – a rare divine storytelling gift. While the majority of the tale is told from the narrator's point-of-view, a court jester dwarf named Samuel, as he unravels the words and life of his friend, Tycho, the court storyteller for the Kingdom of Gora. With incredible finesse, the author delivers a Chaucer-like tale and character in Tycho, this charming young man with a divine ability to deliver a tale.
If I am to be honest, I should openly admit that I have no idea how to tell this story. My life's training has been as a jester, and riddles and jokes are quite different beasts from stories... If I were wise I would finish Pawel's story, but I'm not wise. I'm a dwarf huddled under a fur, writing by candlelight, my hands covered in ink as though it were the blood of a dragon I am attempting to slay. Soon, too soon for Alexandra's taste, I shall introduce Tycho.
Gora, a 15th-century European kingdom far from the clutches of the Holy Roman Empire is an atheistic nation with a king, Pawel, who becomes lost after losing his wife in death. His despair envelopes the kingdom and in an attempt to keep his children, Prince and Princess Alexandra, protected, he surrounds them with loyal servants to entertain and serve – Samuel, the court jester; Tycho, the storyteller, Agnieszka, the cook; and Ahab, the astrologer – all bound under an unspoken rule that none may ever leave the castle without forfeiting their life.
He was a wanderer who did not even have a destination. I think it was this sadness which many of us saw in the boy, beneath the charm and the winning smile. We saw the sadness of a soul which would forever be in transit, which would never know a home, and which would forever be apori.
While all of them appear to settle into their roles, only Agnieszka bemoans her place, awaiting the day the King promised her she might return to her husband after a year of service. She does not know she can never return. In the meantime, the lives of these six people entwine, each with the other, in a beautiful melding of hearts and minds. Tycho's stories each evening, holding deep meaning in the symbolism, often speak of love yet he doesn't really grasp the meaning of the word, yet he ponders his connection to the Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc, who also bears a divine gift. Samuel, the dwarf, longs to be in love, yet his place in life keeps love at bay even as he watches love blossom all around him. Agnieszka longs to be back with her husband; Alexandra spurns suitor after suitor, even a brave Knight while keeping her love for the storyteller a secret... and the King wanders the halls, forever frozen in his pining love for his wife.
I turned and moved along the road cut through the ocean of snow. The guard trudging at my side was silent, and I was glad, for speech would have ruined the walk, betrayed the sad and beautiful drama which had occurred. My thoughts were of my King and his attachment to the past, of my friends Agnieszka who would one day need be told the truth, and of my young friend, the storyteller, who was witnessing what it meant to lose the one you loved more than yourself.
Along with these entwined souls, a disgusting nemesis arrives, a banished Bishop sent to the kingdom by Pope Martin V, whose gluttony and lusts ooze from his pores. He sets his sights on Agnieszka, even as he pours out his inner spiritual struggles in letters to the Pope – the loss of his faith and trust in the Catholic Church which provides an unexpected foundation to the entire storyline, that of love versus hate, evil versus good, and truth versus lies, along with an exposé on hypocrisy.
I have spoken to the Countess and other visitors from French lands about Jeanne, and it seems, even now that she is in captivity, there is a plot led by the English, but assisted by the French church, to take her life. If she truly does hear the voices of the Saints, then her death must also be part of a higher plan, but does it not seem absurd? Raise a girl to national hero, and then have her killed by the church – won't that turn France against the Church? Is that what God wants? Ahab feels that I am somehow related to Jeanne, that we are both recipients of some divine gift. And yet unlike Jeanne I have no mission. I weave stories to children in a castle.
The technique the author uses of weaving letters and journal entries, along with the symbolic stories told by Tycho, along with the forward-moving plot told by Samuel, is remarkable and truly a unique voice in historical fiction. For a debut novelist this is a dream come true, in every sense of the word; one which will touch your heart and provide a child-like escape for a modern adult reader. While revealing the deep sorrow and pain that comes with loss, the very human elements which connect the reader to the characters, this is a tale of love... of true love, and the sacrifices which often come at the expense of great love in all its forms – brotherhood, friendship, family, loyalty, commitment, marital fidelity, passion, and hope. This book truly is a classic in the making.
The heart grows numb to pain eventually, and disappointment has little effect upon those who embrace it as the one constant in their lives.
“Close Your Eyes: A Fairy Tale” by Chris Tomasini receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company