A Compelling Depiction of a Life and Career #Friday Fun Reads

The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt

by C. W. Gortner

Copyright 2020

 

What Amazon Says

 

“This novel about Sarah Bernhardt, the iconic French actress, is both a riveting portrait of the artist as a passionate young woman and a luscious historical novel full of period detail.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of Mistress of the Ritz and The Aviator’s Wife

From her beginnings as the daughter of a courtesan to her extraordinary transformation into the most celebrated actress of her era, Sarah Bernhardt is brought to life by an internationally bestselling author praised for his historical novels featuring famous women.

Sarah’s highly dramatic life starts when she returns to Paris after her convent schooling and is confronted by her mother’s demand to follow in the family trade as a courtesan. To escape this fate, Sarah pursues a career onstage at the esteemed Comédie-Française, until her rebellious acting style leads to her scandalous dismissal. Only nineteen years old and unemployed, Sarah is forced to submit to her mother’s wishes. But her seductive ease as a courtesan comes to an abrupt end when she discovers she is pregnant. Unwilling to give up her child, Sarah defies social condemnation and is cast adrift, penniless and alone.

With her striking beauty and innovative performances in a bohemian theater, Sarah catapults to unexpected success; suddenly, audiences clamor to see this controversial young actress. But her world is torn asunder by the brutal 1870 siege of Paris. Sarah refuses to abandon the ravaged city, nursing wounded soldiers and risking her life.

Her return to the Comédie and her tempestuous affair with her leading man plunge Sarah into a fierce quest for independence. Undeterred, she risks everything to become France’s most acclaimed actress, enthralling audiences with her shocking portrayals of female and male characters. Sarah’s daring talent and outrageous London engagement pave her path to worldwide celebrity, with sold-out tours in Europe and America.

Told in her own voice, this is Sarah Bernhardt’s incandescent story—a fascinating, intimate account of a woman whose unrivaled talent and indomitable spirit has enshrined her in history as the Divine Sarah.

 

My Thoughts

 

When I was in college, my mother and I once had our palms read at a local fair. The palmist told my mother she had the hands of Sarah Bernhardt. Not knowing who Sarah Bernhardt was, I asked my mother, who told me she’d been an actress. Mother also loved to act and was involved in community theater and directed plays at the college where she taught English and communications. Go figure!

I must admit that if I hadn’t wanted to know more about this celebrity’s life and career, I probably wouldn’t have read The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt after reading Amazon’s detailed synopsis, which tells her story in a nutshell. I was intrigued to learn that one of the online book discussion groups in which I participate would be talking about this book. I’m glad I read it, long as it is. It’s one of those books that is hard to put aside once you’ve started reading it.

I love the author’s first-person narration of Sarah’s story, from her childhood, to her roller-coaster-like acting career, to her success in London, which was a major turning point in her life. It’s amazing how C. W. Gortner got inside Sarah’s head to tell us what she was thinking and feeling all the time. I found the afterword at the end, which provides detailed information about her life and career, fascinating. Even if you’re not into plays, especially older French plays, if you enjoy stories of courage in the face of adversity, you’ll love this book, as I did.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A PLAY OF DECEPTION #Fiction, #Tuesday Tidbit

“Deception! Deception! Deception!” cried Linda, as she marched into her mother’s room at the assisted living facility.

Startled, Dorothy looked up from the newspaper she was trying to read. With her failing eyesight, she could only make out the headlines, and some of them were too small. She looked forward to the end of the day when Linda came and read her the evening paper. As Dorothy looked at her daughter, she could tell Linda was angry at her about something.

She said with a smile, “Hello, dear, I was just looking at the headlines. It’s funny you should walk in here like that because I heard the theater guild is holding auditions for The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, and I think you’d make the perfect Amanda. Remember when we were in that play years ago. I played Amanda, and you played Laura.”

Linda snatched the newspaper and flung it aside. “Why did you do that?” asked Dorothy.

Linda sank into a nearby chair and sighed. “I went to Day Break today to tell them you’re recovering from pneumonia and you’ll probably be returning in a few weeks.”

“Oh.”

“Imagine my shock when Diane told me you hadn’t been there in a month. I can’t believe you’d deceive me like Laura did to her mother in The Glass Menagerie. If you’d thrown up all over the floor in front of everybody like Laura did at the business school, I would have understood, but Diane didn’t say you did anything like that. It’s not in your nature to be shy and deceptive. Why did you pretend you were going to Day Break all this time?”

Dorothy sighed. “Linda, you’ve been under a lot of stress, and I didn’t want you to worry about me. I don’t like being around those old people. I went once just to see what it was like, and all they did was watch TV, play cards, and eat, and I can do those things here.”

“But you don’t do anything here except sit in your room all day and listen to those recorded books the library lady brings you. Even before you got pneumonia, you only left your room to go to the dining room for meals.”

“That’s because they only deliver meals to your room if you’re sick. I don’t like being around old people.”

“You’re just as old as they are.”

“You may think so, but I don’t. I have nothing against these people. They’re all very nice, but they’re just not my crowd. Now, let’s talk about you. I think you should go to those auditions for The Glass Menagerie. You’re old enough to play Amanda, and you’ve demonstrated that you’d be perfect for the part.”

“Mother,” said Linda with an exasperated sigh. “real estate is a twenty-four hour business. I just don’t have time for the theater anymore. You know that.”

“Honey, I really appreciate you coming here every day to read me the paper. So, I’ll make you a deal. If you try out for The Glass Menagerie, I’ll start going downstairs to the lobby where somebody reads the paper aloud, so you won’t have to come every day and do that. If you get a part, I’ll be there opening night.”

“How will you get there? It would be hard for me to drive you if I’m in the play.”

“I know that, silly. I’ll call Gladys and ask her to drive me. You remember Gladys, don’t you? For years, we taught at the college together.”

“Of course, I remember Gladys. Are you serious about going to this play?”

“Yes, I want you to take some time and do things you enjoy and you want me to get out more. It’s a perfect deal, don’t you think?”

Linda sighed. “Okay, Mother, you win, but the doctor says you shouldn’t be out and about too much for the next few weeks.” She rose and picked up the paper. “Let’s see. It says here that the auditions are next Tuesday. Rehearsals will start the following week and the play will run at the end of next month. To be on the safe side, why don’t you wait to hold up your end of the deal until after opening night? Now is probably not the time to overdo it.”

“Fair enough,” said Dorothy, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Mother, I worry about you,” said Linda, taking Dorothy’s hand. “Once you’re recovered from this pneumonia, I wish you’d get out more. I know you can’t play golf or tennis anymore, and it would probably be hard for you to play bridge and be involved in the American Association of University Women or the Arts Council, but the YMCA has an excellent water exercise program, and there are some nice things that go on at the senior center.”

“I’ll try,” said Dorothy with a sigh of resignation.

The day after the audition was supposed to be held, Linda rushed into her mother’s room and said, “I did it! I tried out last night and got the part right on the spot. The director says I have natural acting abilities. I don’t think any director has ever said that before.”

“Didn’t it say in the paper that the director is retired and used to produce plays on Broadway?”

“That’s right.”

“Maybe you should have tried Broadway first before going into real estate.”

“Maybe, but I still use my acting skills in the line of work I do now. You have to convince customers that this is the house they want to buy. You can’t let them see that you’re tired and stressed  out.”

“That’s true. In any case, congratulations! Come here and let me give you a hug.”

Over the next month, when Linda came to visit Dorothy, she talked about the rehearsals. She gave her mother all the details, including who the other actors were, the blocking, the set, and the costumes. Dorothy enjoyed hearing Linda talk about the rehearsals because it brought back many pleasant memories of her involvement in the community theater when she was younger. Since they agreed that she wouldn’t participate in any activities until after opening night, she was content to remain in her room, listening to audiobooks and visiting with Linda and Gladys when they came.

A few days before opening night, there was a rave review of the performance in the local newspaper. The article spoke highly of Linda’s portrayal of Amanda. “Even though this actress has never lived in the South, you can tell by her authentic Southern accent that she’s a born southerner,” wrote the reporter.

“Honey, that’s wonderful,” said Dorothy when Linda read her the review. “I can’t wait to see the play.”

It was true. For the first time in a long while, Dorothy looked forward to going out, despite failing vision and difficulty walking. Gladys agreed to accompany her, and on opening night, they set off in her car.

The theater was crowded, but since Dorothy and Gladys arrived early, they found seats in the front row. Dorothy didn’t think she would be able to see everything that went on, but at least she would be able to hear the voices of the actors.  Since she knew the play by heart, she knew what would take place. Her heart pounded with excitement, as the lights dimmed, and the curtain opened on the first act.

But as Amanda spoke, Dorothy realized something was wrong. It wasn’t Linda’s voice portraying her. The actress spoke like a true southerner, but Dorothy knew in her heart it wasn’t Linda. Although she couldn’t see the actress very well, she knew she didn’t have to look at her to know it wasn’t Linda.

They’d apparently called in an understudy, but why? Where was Linda? Had she been in an accident? Dorothy pictured her daughter lying in a hospital bed, seriously injured or possibly dead. At intermission, she fought to remain calm.

“It doesn’t even give Linda’s name in the program,” said Gladys. “It says that Amanda is played by Pamela Warner. I noticed that in the paper, too, but since you said it was Linda, I assumed it was a mistake. I think Pamela Warner is very good, but what do you suppose happened to Linda?”

“I don’t know,” said Dorothy, close to tears.

She felt a light touch on her shoulder. “Hello, Mother,” said Linda from the row behind them. “Are you enjoying the play?”

Relief that Linda was unharmed was replaced by anger as Dorothy realized what had been going on in the past month. She turned and glared at her daughter. In a soft but icy voice, she said, “Deception! Deception! Deception!”

***

Note: The above short story appears in the fall/winter 2020-21 issue of Magnets and Ladders. It was also published years ago in Disability Studies Quarterly.

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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A Novel About a Naughty Girl #Thursday Book Feature

City of Girls

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Copyright 2019.

 

From the bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love comes a novel that spans seventy years. In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian is expelled from college. Her parents send her from their home in Clinton, New York, to live with her aunt, who runs a crumbling theater in New York City. Vivian’s sewing skills, which she acquired from her grandmother, make her popular among the showgirls and dancers, and she becomes the theater’s volunteer costume designer. Within two weeks of her arrival, she loses her virginity and becomes active in New York City’s night life.

In 1941, a scandal that occurs as a result of her sexual promiscuity nearly ruins her life, but she bounces back. In the 1950’s, after the city demolishes her aunt’s theater, Vivian opens a bridal shop with a friend, who becomes pregnant, and helps raise her child while continuing with her own sexual activities. In the 1960’s, she becomes involved in an unusual relationship with an unlikely character from her past.

If I don’t like the main character, I usually don’t finish the book. But I was intrigued by the way the author tells this story in the form of a letter from Vivian to someone named Angela. My curiosity about the connection between Vivian and Angela kept me hanging on. But I would like to have seen Vivian grow as a character, perhaps give up her worldliness after the 1941 scandal.

Otherwise, I was fascinated by events that went on in the theater, my parents having been want-to-be stars in New York City before I came along in 1961. I found myself chuckling at some of the characters’ antics. Blair Brown, who narrates the audio book, does an excellent job. City of Girls would make a great holiday gift for someone who finds theater intriguing or likes stories about naughty girls.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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My Zoo Story #Fiction

When I was a teen-ager, my father starred in a community theater production of Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. Years later, this inspired me to write the following story. It was once published in a literary magazine produced by the University of Wyoming that no longer exists. Enjoy!

 

MY ZOO STORY

 

I’ve been to the zoo, well, not exactly. There aren’t many of those in Wyoming, but when I was a freshman in college, staying with my great aunt, I didn’t just speak that opening line as I strutted onstage in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. I lived the part of Jerry, the guy I played.

Grandma’s sister June lived in a house in Laramie. It was white with brown trim and surrounded by a white picket fence. Her husband was gone, and her children were grown and scattered across the country. She had one or two grandchildren, but her family rarely visited.

Since she could no longer drive, a van picked her up every day and took her to a senior center where she had lunch and played bingo and cards with friends. She also used the van to get to doctor and hair appointments. An aide from the senior center’s in-home services program cleaned her house once a week and helped her with grocery shopping. One evening a week, a friend picked her up and took her to someone else’s house to play bridge. Sometimes, the ladies played at June’s house.

When I started as a freshman at the University of Wyoming, Grandma insisted I live with June since Sheridan, my hometown where Grandma also lived, was halfway across the state. Since Grandma heard about drugs, sex, and wild parties on campus, she didn’t want her grandson to be distracted from his studies.

My parents agreed. Dad said he wouldn’t dole out extra money for me to live in a residence hall if I could live with June for free. “At least this year,” Mom said. “If you really don’t like it, maybe we can find you an apartment next year.”

June was only too happy to have a robust, young man in the house who could mow the lawn and do other chores. I barely knew her, but we got along pretty well. She didn’t give me any curfews, and I don’t think she would have minded if friends came over to hang out or study. I ate breakfast and supper with her every day during the week, and she always talked about goings-on at the senior center or something in the news that interested her or the television shows she watched. Her house wasn’t far from campus, so I could walk to and from classes.

Her pooch was a different story. Dad never let me have a dog because he said it was too expensive. Maggie was all black, and she didn’t like me for some reason. When I was with June, Maggie ignored me, curling up at the old lady’s feet when we ate or watched television. When I came home every day, June was resting in her room, and Maggie was in the yard.

Her ears went up, and she gave me a menacing growl when I inched open the gate and slipped through, closing it behind me. As I made my way toward the house, she lunged, but I kicked her and ran toward the front steps. She chased me, barking, growling, and nipping at my heels. I kicked her again and kept going until I made it up the steps and in the door, slamming it in her face. June apparently didn’t hear a thing.

At first, I tried talking to Maggie. “Hey girl, it’s okay. I live here. I’m your friend, your mommy’s great nephew.” She still tried to attack me.

I snuck around to the back of the house, but Maggie had a sixth sense and was waiting for me at the back gate with her usual growl. The back door was closer to the back gate than the front door was to the front gate, so it was easier to make a run for it.

June took Maggie for a walk twice a day and fed her hamburger and other treats besides her regular food. At mealtime, I saw her slipping meat to her under the table. Ever faithful, Maggie stayed by June’s side most of the time.

“How long have you had Maggie?” I asked her one evening at supper.

“She’s only been with me about a year. She belonged to a dear friend who passed away. When Gertrude was gone, Maggie was only too happy to come home with me. She doesn’t like strangers. The postman accused her of attacking him. Can you believe that, my Mags attacking someone?”

She reached down and slipped the dog a piece of chicken. “Anyway, that’s why we use the mailbox outside the front gate. She’s a cross between a Pitbull and a Doberman. Those dogs can be dangerous but not my Mags.”

I called home one night while June was at one of her bridge parties and explained the situation. “This sounds dangerous,” said Mom.

“Naw,” said Dad. “the dog probably just wants to play. Besides, we can’t make waves. We’re lucky June’s willing to let Jerry stay with her while he goes to school. It saves us money. Just keep running away from her when she jumps at you, and she’ll eventually get tired of this game.”

“What if she attacks Jerry?” said Mom.

“Naw.” That was Dad’s favorite word. “Jerry’s a fast runner, a strong kid. He’ll be fine.”

I thought of calling Grandma but was afraid she would say something to June. As long as I could outrun the dog, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The university’s theater department was producing a series of one-act plays, one of which was Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story, about two guys in New York who meet in Central Park. Jerry lives in a rooming house and has no job and no ambitions. Peter has a career, a wife, and kids. When they meet in the park, Jerry tells Peter his life story and then challenges Peter to fight him. A knife is produced, and Peter inadvertently stabs him to death, which is presumably what Jerry wants.

Since I’d acted in plays in high school, I auditioned for and got the part of Jerry. As I learned lines and went to rehearsals, I got to thinking about how the character Jerry and I were alike. We had the same name, and we both lived with old ladies and mean dogs. Then, it came to me.

In the play, Peter and Jerry swap life stories. Jerry tells Peter about the time he poisoned his landlady’s dog. The pooch didn’t die but was very sick for a few days. After that, Jerry and the canine came to an understanding. In the same way, I wanted to come to a similar understanding with Maggie.

Between June’s house and the campus was a small market. I asked the butcher for a quarter pound of hamburger and bought some rat poison. In the park across the street, I found a secluded bench, unwrapped the meat, and kneaded the poison into it. I put the tainted meat in my pocket, discarded the wrapper and remainder of the poison, and walked home.

“Hey girl,” I said, as I opened the back gate, stepped inside, and closed it. “Look what I got for you.”

Maggie growled. I tossed the meat on the ground in front of her, and she attacked it instead of me. I hurried up the back steps and in the door, and the dog didn’t even look my way. I sighed with relief. The deed was done.

That night at dinner, Maggie seemed her usual self. I caught the old lady slipping bits of roast beef to her under the table. “Do you have play rehearsal tonight, dear?” she asked.

“Yeah, so I’ll probably be late again.”

“That’s all right. Just be sure to lock up when you come home.”

“Sure, I won’t forget.”

“Your grandmother told me your mother is also into acting. I guess that’s where you got it. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll be on Broadway.”

The next morning when I went downstairs, June wasn’t in the kitchen. Usually, she was scrambling eggs and frying bacon. If Maggie got sick during the night, June was probably taking care of her. I found bread and put it in the toaster and got the orange juice out of the fridge. There was plenty of fresh fruit in a basket on the kitchen table. That would suffice.

She came in a few minutes later while I was eating. Usually, she was dressed, but this morning, she wore a bathrobe. Her gray hair, which was usually done up so neatly, was all frizzy. Her face was pale, and her eyes looked red and puffy. “Hey, are you okay?” I asked, getting to my feet.

“I’m fine,” she said with a sniffle. “Maggie has been sick all night.” A tear rolled down her cheek.

“Oh, do you want me to take her to the vet?” I asked before realizing that since neither of us had a car, I couldn’t do that.

“No dear, that won’t be necessary. I just called Dr. Adams, and she’s on her way. Thank goodness there’s still one vet who makes house calls just like James Harriott.”

I remembered James Harriott as the English country vet on one of the shows June liked to watch on PBS. I was relieved she had everything under control.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get your breakfast,” she said.

“That’s okay,” I said, moving to the refrigerator. “Let me fix you breakfast. How about some bacon and eggs?”

“Oh no, I couldn’t eat a bite. Besides, Dr. Adams is coming.”

Spotting my half-eaten toast and the banana next to the plate, she said, “That’s not enough for a growing boy.”

“I’ll grab something on campus later. Don’t worry about me. You take care of Maggie. I’ll be fine.”

“Oh Jerry, you’re such a good boy,” she said, as she walked to where I stood and planted a kiss on my cheek before hurrying out of the room, leaving me to eat in guilt-ridden peace.

I thought about Maggie all day and found it hard to concentrate in my classes. At lunchtime, I thought about calling June to find out how the dog was but remembered she would be at the senior center. When I got home that afternoon, Maggie wasn’t in the yard, and I wasn’t surprised. The house seemed empty. June was probably in her room resting with the dog.

Usually by five o’clock, I could smell dinner cooking, but not tonight. Concerned, I knocked on June’s door. She opened it a crack and stuck her head out. “Oh Jerry, you’re wanting supper, aren’t you? I’m sorry.”

“That’s okay. How’s Maggie?”

She sighed. “I’m afraid she’s not much better. Dr. Adams said it’s probably a stomach virus, and she should be fine in a couple of days.”

“Want me to order a pizza, or would you rather have Chinese?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Oh, I don’t want anything. There’s some macaroni and cheese in the freezer. I’ll just heat that up for you.” She opened the door and stepped out of the room, still in her bathrobe.

I put a hand on her shoulder. “You don’t have to do that. I can manage. Maggie needs you now more than I do.”

“Such a good boy,” she said, patting my head. “You’re right of course.”

The next morning, June wasn’t in the kitchen when I went downstairs. I made more toast and ate another banana. June wandered in and fussed that I wasn’t getting enough to eat, and I told her I was fine and asked about Maggie and was told she wasn’t much better.

When I came home from classes that afternoon, I didn’t bother sneaking around to the back of the house. I knew Maggie wouldn’t be there. I walked in the front gate and up the walk and stopped short. A black wreathe hung on the front door that hadn’t been there before. A black wreathe meant only one thing. Somebody, or in this case, somebody’s dog, had died.

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think I’d used that much poison. I didn’t mean to kill her. She was only a dog.

It then occurred to me that Maggie was like Jerry in The Zoo Story. He didn’t want to commit suicide. When he met Peter in the park, he thought Peter was just the right guy to end his life. When Maggie saw me, she figured she had an easy way out if she could provoke me.

Now, like Peter, I had everything going for me. I was doing well in college and thinking about majoring in either English or drama, maybe being an actor.

At the end of The Zoo Story, before Jerry breathes his last, he tells Peter to go home to his wife and kids who are waiting for him. Maggie and I never swapped life stories, but her spirit spoke to me now.

“Jerry, go in the house. That English paper is due next week. You’d better get started on it. June won’t be able to fix supper for you again so you’re on your own, and you have rehearsal tonight. Better get a move on, Jerry. You don’t have all day.” Like Peter at the end of The Zoo Story, I turned and fled.

 

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Three Little Birds #Monday Musical Memories

I have a nasty habit of worrying. I keep telling myself it doesn’t do any good, that whatever worries me will work out one way or another, but that doesn’t always help. I started worrying when I was thirteen years old.

At the time, all my friends had baby-sitting jobs. So naturally, I wanted one. I didn’t need the money. I just liked the idea of caring for smaller children. My parents, who were active in community theater, finally decided I was old enough to be left home alone with my younger brother Andy.

I then discovered that baby-sitting wasn’t easy. Andy rarely respected my authority. He was supposed to go to bed at nine o’clock, but when the time came, getting him there was a feat comparable to climbing Mount Everest. I cajoled, threatened, begged. Finally, after about fifteen minutes of arguing, he gave in. He was six years old and could get himself ready and into bed. Once he was asleep, the house was oddly quiet, and the nightmare began.

I lay awake, waiting for the reassuring hum of my parents’ car pulling into the garage next to my bedroom. Most nights, they were home by ten thirty. But one night, they still hadn’t returned by eleven.

I lay there, wondering what to do. My stomach, after having been tied up in knots for the past hour and a half, finally revolted. I leaped out of bed and dashed for the nearest bathroom, which was off the master bedroom. Andy often slept in our parents’ bed until they came home. So naturally, my vomiting woke him up. For once, he was nice. He offered to call Joan, a family friend Mother said we could contact in an emergency. I thought that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Maybe she would even come over and stay with us until our folks came home.

When Andy reached her on the bedside phone and explained that I was sick and Mother and Dad weren’t home yet, she suggested I brush my teeth and get back into bed and she would try to find our folks. I did as she suggested. Andy let me snuggle with him in our parents’ bed, a rare treat since my baby brother was getting past the cuddly stage.

A few minutes later, Joan called back and said she hadn’t been able to find our parents. I burst into tears, proclaiming that they’d been killed in a car accident and we were now orphans. This possibility didn’t seem to bother Andy. He just lay there, saying nothing.

Joan was sympathetic and patient. She assured me that our parents were probably out drinking somewhere and they would be home soon. She stayed on the phone with me until I felt sleepy. When Mother and Dad finally came home around two in the morning, they found us both asleep in their bed.

Because I’d been sick the night before, I was allowed to stay home from school the next day. Mother told me that if the incident from the previous night happened again, she would hire a baby-sitter. I wanted to tell her she could do that. I was done with that career. But I was too proud.

Mother also berated me for scaring Andy with the notion that we were orphans. What would she have done in my situation? Dad told me I just needed to go to sleep, and they would get home when they got home. That was easier said than done.

From then on, play rehearsal nights and any time our parents went out without us became a source of dread. Most nights, they were home early, but other nights, they weren’t. I thought if I went to bed while Andy was still up, I could be asleep before our folks came home and wouldn’t be responsible if Andy decided not to go to bed at his appointed time. Although I fell asleep, I had weird dreams and woke frequently. I never rested easy until our parents’ car pulled into the garage.

When I got into high school, I finally stopped worrying about our parents when they were out late. But I’ve never stopped worrying about things beyond my control. I often think of “what if” scenarios. Because of my vivid imagination, that’s why I’m a writer.

If you’re not familiar with the song I’m featuring today, you’re probably wondering what three little birds have to do with all this. In the song, three little birds deliver a message that we shouldn’t worry, that every little thing will be all right. If I’d heard this song back in my first baby-sitting days, would it have changed my perspective? Who knows?

 

How about you? Are you a worrier? Have you ever worried unnecessarily?

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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