Saturday, 21 February 2009

Fabrica d'Amor (synopsis)

Fabrica d'Amor is a psychological novel about a thirteen year old runaway in the rough squat scene of London.


  • Maggie Marshall: 13 year old girl with ginger curls and freckles. She's left-handed. She's an only child and lives alone with her mother, Ellen Marshall, in Highgate, North London. Lately, they've got a lot of fights about the clothing Maggie wants to wear, about Ellen being overprotective and about Maggie's wish to become a vegetarian. She just started secondary school and doesn't like her new classmates at all. She's feeling very lonely until she meets Chris. Her name will be changed to Maggot when she moves to Fabrica d'Amor.
  • Ellen Marshall: 34 year old single mother, grew up in Holland. She moved to London when she 20, soon after her father, who had made a small fortune with his business, died. At the time she was expecting Maggie. Maggie's father didn't want to follow her, because he thought Ellen had something to do with her own father's sudden death. Her speech is never communication. She speaks because the words force her to utter them, and she cannot resist, even though it would be wiser not to speak. I'm trying to show a different view of language. Occasions when she speaks are:
    1. she's telling Maggie a bedtime story, Maggie falls asleep and doesn't reply;
    2. she's getting drunk on her own and talking to herself. Meanwhile Maggie is listening in;
    3. she writes letters that are never sent, to Maggie's father and her own father, both of whom were already dead when she was writing.
  • Chris: 17 year old leader of a group of squatters who live in what he calls 'Fabrica d'Amor', a deserted factory in West London. He is skinny, boisterous, outgoing and adventurous. He wears retro clothing and likes David Bowie.
  • The apostles: Chris lives with twelve other squatters, eleven boys and one girl called Justine. They consider themselves siblings and believe in an extreme communistic ideology. They think people that have sex should not live together, because such a relation would distort equality. Hence, Justine is 'one of the boys'.

The Father: seedy old man who sits in a corner of the squat without ever saying or doing anything. Chris and the apostles call him “Father”. Everyone has greatest respect for him.

Rough outline:


As a bedtime story, Ellen tells Maggie about her own parents. Her father was a Canadian who came to Holland with the Allies in World War II. Her mother was Dutch but died while giving birth. He stayed in Holland because he loved the country and prospered there. He has always worked hard and died on the job in an unfortunate accident. But he loved his job, and Ellen thinks he wouldn't have wanted to die under any other circumstances. The message of the story is: know what you want and what you're good at, go for it and you'll be successful.

Chapter 1

After another fight with her mother, Maggie runs away from home and is very upset. On the Tube she sits next to Chris, whom she doesn't know yet. He sees she's almost crying and offers her an earphone of his I-pod. He plays David Bowie's 'rock and roll suicide' for her, and she feels like he understand her. She doesn't have a plan and he has a friendly face, so when he gets of the Tube she goes with him.

She tells him she ran away from home, he tells her he lives in a squat. Talking to this friendly stranger has cheered her up a lot and she asks if she can see his place. He introduces Maggie to the first member of his gang, Justine. Maggie smokes her first cigarette. When she sees that Justine wears two different gloves, a silk one and a leather one, she loves it, and says how much she loves it, Justine offers to swaps the leather one for one of Maggie's knitted purple TopShop-gloves.

“We're sisters now,” Justine remarks after the ritual. Maggie asks if she can stay. Chris says she can, but she will have to chip in.

Chapter 2

10 PM the next evening. Maggie has returned home and is aiting in her bedroom for Chris to whistle from outside. She has stolen the little safe in which Ellen keeps her credit card and most valuable pieces of jewellery. She has also descended to the basement to look through the clothing her mother used to wear in the eighties but never threw away, and has taken a naff leather jacket and a silk scarf that matches with Justine's glove.

Chris is more than three hours late. Maggie doubts whether she's really welcome, whether she actually wants to go, at one point she even thinks she's already heard Chris whistle at half nine and just ignored him. She keeps repeating details of her meeting with Chris and Justine and the fight she has with her mother.

Meanwhile Maggie is listening to Ellen, who is in the living room, getting drunk on her own and talking to herself. Though her thoughts become more and more incoherent in the course of the evening, it becomes clearer and clearer that she and Maggie's father had plans to get married before Ellen's father died, and that she was very dissatisfied with the fact that her father, though he was very rich, didn't want to pay for the marriage or help out with the education of his future granddaughter.

Chapter 3

At 1 AM Chris finally throws a pebble against her window. She climbs down immediately. Together they stroll down to Highgate Cemetery, break in, find a snug place between two overgrown tombstones, smoke weed and sleep until the break of dawn. Maggie hides her ginger curls under a knitted army hat Chris gave her so that she won't be recognised in case she has gone missing already, and she's wearing her mother's old leather jacket. They take the first Tube, have an extraordinary breakfast in a hotel with her mother's credit card and go back to Fabrica d'Amor.

Chapter 4

It's still very early and Chris wakes the other squatters like an army officer. Maggie meets the other apostles. Pete doesn't like her name and decides that they have to change it to Maggot (that Pete bullies Maggie is a reference to the New Testament: Pete doesn't accept Mary Magdalene. That she has to give up her name is a reference to Mariken van Nieumeghen).

After the ritual of renaming, Chris takes her by the hand and leads her to an old man who just sits on a chair and says nothing. Maggot realises he's been there all along, probably even the first time she visited Fabrica d'Amor She just hadn't noticed him. Chris says: “Father, this is our new sister, Maggot. Maggot, this is your Father now.” and kneels in front of him. Maggot does the same. The old man doesn't react.

Then they discuss how they can use the credit card as efficiently as possible before it is blocked. They decide it's best if Maggot doesn't leave the building, since people will be looking for the missing thirteen year old.

Chapter 5

Maggot and Justine are wearing the jewellery they found in the safe, but nobody shows any interest in the letters Ellen has hidden in there. Maggot keeps them in the pocket of her jeans, but has not read them yet.

The first two shifts of the gang leave to a camping store where they buy a generator, so they can produce electricity, and a lot of camping equipment. When the first shift comes home with all this, the second shift has already moved on to the next shop with the credit card and the third shift leaves to meet them there. Everyone who comes in kneels for the Father and presents him their new possessions. He says nothing, just sits and stares.

Throughout the day Maggot watches the loot grow and starts to feel guilty. Meanwhile different members of the crew try to explain their interpretation of communism. At eight Chris comes home on a very loud moped with a large number of pizza boxes. While they eat, one of the apostles takes the moped and the credit card to buy several bottles of cider and vodka at the corner shop.

Chapter 6

They climb up the roof and smoke hash. It's freezing so they can watch the stars, and talk about star signs. One by one they get too cold and move inside, where they drink the rest of the vodka. Justine is one of the last ones to come down. In the dark, she stumbles to the couch. There's someone sleeping on it. Justine opens his trousers and starts to give him a blowjob. Suddenly she stops and says: “Oh my, for a moment I thought you were Pete!”, to which Pete responds with: “Who did you think I was, bitch?”

Justine runs off crying. Now Maggot is the only female in the group. Chris is really aggravated and wakes everyone. In vain, he tries to find out who was having an affair with Justine (for such a thing was not done in their community. Sex was something that was only to be performed with people from the outside world, not with your brothers and sisters. Pete says they should never have admitted a woman to their group.

Chapter 7

Justine has left the Fabrica d'Amor in great chaos. Everyone is still drunk and shouting and worrying what Justine is going to do. Because she broke a basic rule, nobody trusts her any more. She might even turn them in to the police.

Maggot collects her belongings, she still feels like they are hers, despite the squatters’ communistic talk, and retreats to the roof. Then she starts reading her mother's letters. In an unsent letter to Maggie's father, she reads that Maggie's father didn't want to have anything to do with the inheritance after the sudden death of Ellen's father. Ellen pleads that it is not blood money, but money she and her daughter need and deserve. There are tear-stains on one of the letters, and the direction the ink is smooched makes Maggot realise Ellen is left-handed too. Of course she knew this already, but now it makes her realise how much she resembles her mother.

Later letters imply that Maggie's father committed suicide shortly after the accident that killed Ellen's father. The last letter is quite a recent one, addressed to both dead men, and states that Ellen doesn't regret a single thing she did. The letters are not a literal confession, but Maggot realises her mother has killed her own father for the inheritance.

Chapter 8

While Maggot watches the sun rise over the city she realises she has no idea what she wants in life, and what she's good at. She doesn't want to be her mother's little Maggie and she doesn't want to be Maggot. She wants it all to end. But when she walks to the edge of the roof and peers down, she sees the dead body of the Father on the pavement beneath her. She's startled and of course she doesn't jump after him. Then she sees a whole lot of police cars heading her direction. She hurries down and quietly wakes up Chris. Together they leave and from the corner shop they see Justine get out of one of the police cars and point at the factory. She looks at Chris and realises she just wants to be with him, no matter where and how they live. He looks back at her and says: 'thanks, Margaret.'

No comments:

Post a Comment