Friday, January 02, 2015

To Fall in Love Again


Drew Nelson did not plan to talk with anyone that morning. He did not plan to make a new friend. He certainly did not plan to fall in love.
He resisted all of Amy’s attempts to draw him out− at the hotel, at the airport, on the airplane− giving hurried responses and burying his face in a pile of papers. It was only when the flight attendant offered coffee, and a muscle in Amy’s back twitched as she reached for it, and the cup tipped, and the hot liquid puddled in Drew’s lap that they began to talk.
Earlier in the year, each had lost a spouse of over thirty years. Drew’s wife had died of a brain tumor, Amy’s husband whe
n his small airplane nose-dived to earth, the engine at full throttle − an accident, it was ruled.
They live in the same city. Both have grandchildren. They are about the same age. Consciously, or not, they both are looking to love again.
But relationships do not exist in vacuums. Drew is wealthy, and Amy is middle class. Amy is “new” in town – she and her husband moved to Charleston twenty-five years ago – while Drew’s family has lived there for three centuries. Drew lives below Broad, a code word for high society, old families, power, and money. Amy’s home is across the river.
Class warfare may be less violent than it was in the past, but when Drew invites Amy to the St Cecelia Ball, battle lines are drawn. In a city in which ancestry is important, the ball’s membership is passed from father to son, and only those from the oldest families attend.
Family, friends, co-workers all weigh in on their relationship and choose sides. Allies are found in unexpected places. Opposition comes from among those who were thought to be friends. Though they are gone, even their spouses − through things they have done and things they have said − wield influence in the conflict that follows.
Amy begins to suspect that Drew is one of them, the rich snobs who despise her, while Drew concludes that Amy neither trusts him nor cares for him. As each questions the other’s motives, their feelings for each other are tested, and Drew and Amy are challenged to consider if they truly want to fall in love again.




EXCERPT
As she entered the lobby, Amy turned around, taking it all in. It was breathtaking—the atrium soaring twenty stories high and flowers hanging from boxes on every floor. Clear lights twinkled on the trees in the lobby, and water splashed in a fountain. A small shop proudly brewed Starbucks, and she could see french pastries displayed in the window. She understood that the hotel boasted a five-star restaurant. It was a wonderful place for the romantic getaway that she had dreamed about so many times.
People milled around, chatting. A sign above a long table on the right read Convention Registration, and a crowd had gathered in front. Jack must have made the reservation a long time ago, must have planned this, to be able to get a room, she thought.
Amy walked to the hotel’s desk. It was three o’clock, a large group was checking in, and she waited in line for a clerk. Finally, a young woman looked up.
“May I help you?”
“I’m Amy Barrett. My husband checked in yesterday, but I just reached town. I need a key.” The clerk looked at her uncertainly. “Here’s my ID.” Amy smiled.
The man standing behind Amy gave an exasperated sigh, and the clerk glanced at him with a nervous expression. She quickly checked Amy’s ID, located the room, and handed her a key. “Here you are, Mrs. Barrett. You are in the Richardson Suite. Have a nice stay.”
Amy took the key and walked toward the elevator. A suite, she thought. Nice.
She hesitated outside of the room, hoping Jack was not inside. She wanted to surprise him.
She inserted the key and quietly opened the door. The curtains were not drawn and sunlight streamed into the living room. As she looked for a place to hide, she heard sounds coming from the bedroom. Now would have to do for her big surprise.
She wanted to capture the expression on Jack’s face when he saw her. Reaching into the pocket of her parka, she pulled out her camera, powered it on, and switched on the flash. Portraits taken with flash were seldom flattering, she knew, but these would not make it to Facebook. They were for her attorney.
Amy thrust open the door, flooding the room with light as she stepped into it. Sure enough, there was her husband, Jack, and he was definitely surprised…as was Marci, his secretary.
He looked over his shoulder and, as Amy raised her camera, he threw himself across Marci, as if perhaps he thought Amy held a pistol. How chivalrous.
Amy pointed the camera and held the shutter down, firing off several shots, the flash popping repeatedly. She stepped quickly to the side to make sure that she could see Marci’s face and took another series.
As if finally aware what was going on, Jack jumped from the bed. As he lunged for the camera, Amy took one last shot. He threw his hands to his face, as if blinded by the flash at the close distance.
“Surprise,” Amy mumbled under her breath as she walked quickly out of the room and left the suite.

She scurried to her car, then drove uptown, pulling into the parking lot at Lenox Square to call her attorney, to tell him that she had the photographs.  


MY THOUGHTS
Now this is a story that I can identify with. When I was young, I found myself unexpectedly widowed and it still crushes me to this day. I felt it was my duty not to get married to anyone else (despite a conversation we had when he was alive). Still I was young and wanted to have a loving companion. Finally, I met a man who was compassionate and seemed to be able to do anything (both things Husband and my first love had/have in common). So, Love does find some people twice and there is sadness and beauty and new beginnings.

In this story, Drew and Amy lost their spouses for entirely different reasons. Drew went through a process where he lost bit by devastating bit. And...I kind of wonder if Amy ever had her spouse to begin with. One of them embraces healing and the other goes through a breakdown of sorts. Everyone has an opinion on the relationship that Drew and Amy have...it seems to be true love and then all the doubts set in. There are friends, enemies, and even the diseased spouses weighing in on the topic or how they feel relationships should be. Among Amy's strongest advocates is Drew's grandson....I just wanted to hug this little fictional boy. 

And, as I sit typing this, I realize that Billy Joel's "A Matter of Trust" will now be going through my head for days.
5 out of 5 stars for pulling at my heartstrings and making me think important things. :-)




AUTHOR BIO

I live in Columbia South Carolina, with my wife and our blue-eyed cat, Bonnie. I enjoy traveling, photography, baking bread, and the Carolina beaches.
We have traveled widely in the United States and the United Kingdom. During one trip to Scotland, we visited Crathes Castle, the ancestral home of the Burnett family near Aberdeen.
My photographic subjects have been as varied as prehistoric ruins on the islands of Scotland, star trails, sea gulls, and a Native American powwow.
I went to school for longer than I want to admit, and I have graduate degrees in psychology and education. I was formerly director of research for our state education department.
We have two daughters and three grandchildren. To Fall in Love Again is my third novel.


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“Where did you get the idea for your story?”
A guest post by David Burnett!

We have all heard the injunction that one should “write what one knows,” and some readers believe that authors take this suggestion literally. As a result, they see each story as a reflection of events in the author’s life, or at least, of events about which the author has direct knowledge.
Some authors do this. Their books are considered to be memoirs, and they recount events which happened to the author, his friends, or his family.
In other cases, the author may begin with a real events and either modify them or embellish them. Perhaps the details are altered. Perhaps the story is set in a different location or in a different time period. Maybe the ending is changed completely. The story is based in reality, but it is refashioned through the author’s imagination. I think of one prominent writer from the America South who does this. Unfortunately his writing style changes as he moves from fact to fiction, so an attentive reader can identify which parts of his stories are factual and which are not.
Several years ago, a character in a popular television police drama began to write crime novels. His characters were based on people he knew –co-workers, friends, the barista at his coffee shop. He changed the names’ of course, but sometimes minimally. In one episode, a crazed fan lost the distinction between fact and fiction and began murder the people on whom the characters were based.
When I completed my first novel, The Reunion, my wife thought at first that I had used a similar strategy. As she read the book, she tried to identify the person on whom each character was based. She and I, she decided, were the central characters, Allison and Michael. One of our daughters must be their child, she thought. The woman who was chasing Michael must be her high school nemesis. Since my wife was only halfway through the book I suggested that she take care in claiming to be Allison, since in a few pages, Allison would engage in some rather inappropriate behavior!
So where do I get my ideas?
Although my stories are fiction, some of the specific events in my books really have happened. In The Reunion, Michael attends his high school reunion, and his friends discuss their high school chemistry teacher. They recount an incident in which Michael and one of his friends turned on a Bunsen burner and shot a flame across the room, hitting their teacher as he bet over a desk talking with another students. The incident really did occur, although I embellished the account, a bit.
In my novel, The Handfasting, I recount one character’s attempt to avoid the America military draft in the early nineteen seventies by getting married. There was a point in time before which married men could not be conscripted into the Army. As the policy was about to change, some men proposed marriage in their efforts to avoid military service. My brother, jokingly perhaps, talked of doing just that.
In To Fall in Love Again, one important scene is set at the annual ball sponsored by an exclusive club. The ball, itself is real. So is the sponsoring society. Some of the customs that are described are at least said to be true. The specific events are pure fiction.
I may be able to tell you where I find the conflicts that drive my stories. For The Reunion, I was listening to a sermon. The preacher talked about a man who had done something that was evil, but had immediately repented. He wanted a chance to live that time over, to have a replay, if you will. My story is about a man who wanted to relive his time in high school.
We occasionally read of two people, lovers perhaps, who have been re-united after a separation of many years. The Handfasting deals with Katherine and Stephen, two people who were engaged to be married, but who were separated for a decade.
To Fall in Love Again is the story of a man and a woman in their mid-fifties who suddenly find themselves unmarried, a situation that seems to occur with increasing frequency. Many of us know people who have found themselves in this situation.
The story, though, the plot, where do I find it?
It has been suggested that there are, at most, thirty-six unique plot lines and that every story is simply a variation of one of these. As a result, Romeo and Juliet, the Hatfields and the McCoys, and Westside Story are simply variations on the theme of young lovers whose families are implacable enemies. Cinderella and The Great Gatsby each recounts a story of an impoverished person who falls in love someone in a higher social class.
So, one might ask, where do I get the specific variation that is my story? The specific events, the conversations, the locations, where do I find them?
Well, I don’t know. It is sort of like magic!
In the Second Chance Café, the author writes of a young woman who weaves beautiful scarves. They sell in upscale stores around the country and are often seen wrapped around the bodies of movie stars and celebrities. Each scarf is unique. How does she decide on the colors, the pattern, for a new scarf? She describes the process in this manner:

“I don’t know how you do that,” her father said, looking at the collection (of yarn) she held and shaking his head.
Honestly, neither did she. To this day, she could not explain how the colors came together in her mind. How one flowed into another as she sat at her loom. How the different strands of story became a whole. “I just see it. I don’t know where it comes from. Any of it. It’s just there.”

This is how it is with writing. The author doesn’t know where the specific events come from. Any of them. The author begins to write − and they’re just there.

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4 comments:

- said...

I'm happy that you enjoyed To Fall in Love Again. Thank you for taking part in the tour.

David Burnett

Annie said...

Hi Blue. What an interesting story. I love southern literature and this has all the elements of a good read. Thanks for the review.

THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

Thank you, for a great read, David. I hope that people who are ready come across this book and find something that helps with the healing process. I am glad that both of your characters had great support networks!

THE BLUEST BUTTERFLY said...

Annie,
Yes, I really enjoyed reading this and I think you will enjoy it as well.:-)

Amy manages to get herself in a big predicament...I suppose something us woman have a tendency to do after significant betrayal.
A good story without descending into soap opera territory.

I definitely want to see the beauty and history of South Carolina.

:-)



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