The story travels back to a time when you couldn't express your love for someone in the snap of a finger. You would have to wait weeks or even months to get an update on someone who was the center of your universe.
Le Gal's favorite part of the project was being able to immerse herself in the subject area and reminisce on a time before dating apps and social media. Readers get to see just who these two people love and the affection that they showed them.
"You didn’t get a text for your birthday but you got flowers and a note from someone who loves you," Le Gal said.
Le Gal noted that Jack Flowers was a fantastic person to work with and that he gave her a lot of artistic freedom. The artist was able to meet the author in person for the first time while working on the project; she described their meeting as "a real treat."
The story follows the lives of two people: a girl born in Boston in 1935 and a boy born six years later in Saint Louis in 1941. The story does not have a traditional narrative, but rather follows their lives for the next 40 years. Each receipt provides clues ― dates are very important as the reader chronologically puts the story together. The illustrations complement the events represented by the various receipts.
"For example, on Page 13, the story takes place in London," said Le Gal. "This was easy for me because I used to live there. I searched for some of my old photos and painted Big Ben. I had to find an empty V-Mail template." V-Mail, short for “Victory Mail,” was a particular postal system put into place during the war to drastically reduce the space needed to transport mail. "Then I had to find an empty template of a Western Union telegram and create a message as if it was real."
Still, Le Gal admitted that working on such a unique project had its challenges.
"From searching historical facts, creating the receipts, painting, and digital illustrating to then putting it all together in the computer to create a beautiful layout was quite a process," Le Gal said. "An epistolary novel is a very unusual format with a lot of details. I wanted my illustrations to support and help tell the story."
While facing some challenges, Le Gal was able to learn more about herself as an artist.
"This project incorporates my illustration and watercolor skills with my computer knowledge to create collages that illustrate this unique story," she said. "I realized it was my years of knowledge working as a graphic designer and as a watercolorist artist that made it possible. Jack Flowers and I met at the right time, and timing is everything."
The book can be purchased at https://www.flowersalovestory.com or at Winston Flowers in Boston. It will soon be available at Flowers By Lorraine in Lynn.