[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to welcome author Phaedra Patrick to the site today. She’s talking love locks and more! Take it away, Phaedra!]
Have you ever seen a padlock hung on a bridge or railing and wondered who left it there and what its story is? They’re commonly called ‘love locks’ and are a symbol of commitment and undying affection. I’ve seen them in many places, from my home city of Manchester, England, to Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Indeed, the famous Pont Des Arts bridge in Paris bore so many locks it collapsed under their weight several years ago.
In this era of social media, where friends and lovers have grown used to corresponding through the click of computer keys and by tapping phone screens, there’s something romantic and mysterious (though not particularly eco-friendly) about the gesture of inscribing a message on a padlock and fastening it somewhere it might stay forever.
According to some it’s a ritual that stems from ancient Chinese tradition, whereas others believe it started in a small Serbian town during the First World War. Wherever they originated, love locks sparked the idea for my fourth novel, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge. It tells of single dad Mitchell Fisher who has given up all hope of romance, until one day he spies a woman on his home town’s renowned ‘love story’ bridge. When he rescues her after she falls into the river, he’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her. But then she disappears leaving only one clue to her identity – a secret message on the padlock she left behind. As word spreads about Mitchell’s heroic act, strangers write to and tell him their own stories which help him to open his heart to finding love again.
While many people in the world are currently in lockdown (please pardon the pun) due to Coronavirus, keeping in touch with friends and loved ones is more important than ever and alternative methods of communication are being sought out. The days of catching up for a coffee or lunch are on hold and, perhaps once taken for granted, suddenly seem very precious. I’ve personally started to chat on the phone more and have enjoyed writing letters in long-hand. I’ve rediscovered that adhering a stamp, sealing an envelope and walking to the post box at the end of my street is much more rewarding than firing off an email. I sent teabags to a friend who works in a hospital, so she can enjoy a cup of tea during her break, and signed postcards for readers to stick into my books, because I can’t sign them in person. My book launch will be conducted on Facebook Live rather than at the local library. It means readers from anywhere in the world can join in. The more the merrier, even if we can’t all have a glass of champagne in the same room.
There’s kindness in the air when I go out for my once-a-day exercise. People may walk two metres apart, but they now nod and say hello to each other. We are all bound together in a unique and shared situation, and it’s allowing us to think differently. Board games are being dusted off, there’s a smell of freshly-cooked bread and cake in the air as people turn to home baking, friends chat together on Zoom, while others might finally start the novel they’ve always wanted to write.
Hopefully, one positive aspect arising from the Coronavirus pandemic will be a renewed sense of community spirit. As we share our stories about these strange times with the next generation there will, of course, be sad ones but also many messages of hope. 2020 could possibly go down in history as the time we changed the way we communicate, via letters, video chat, and perhaps even love locks too.
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick, out now!
It’s summer in the city and passions are soaring along with the temperature—for everyone but Mitchell Fisher, who hates all things romance. He relishes his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to the famous “love story” bridge. Only his young daughter, Poppy, knows that behind his prickly veneer, Mitchell still grieves the loss of her mother.
Then one hot day, everything changes when Mitchell courageously rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but she disappears before he can ask her name. Desperate to find out her identity, Mitchell is shocked to learn she’s been missing for almost a year. He teams up with her spirited sister, Liza, on a quest to find her again. However, she’s left only one clue behind—a message on the padlock she hung on the bridge.
Brimming with Phaedra Patrick’s signature charm and a sparkling cast of characters, The Secrets of Love Story Bridge follows one man’s journey to unlock his heart and discover new beginnings in the unlikeliest places.