This is a novel that I will be publishing before the holidays arrive. I thought the best way to tell you what it’s about, is to simply offer part of the questionnaire that was filled out to the artist who is designing the cover.
1) TITLE OF YOUR BOOK AND GENRE:
Romantic autobiographical story made up, primarily, of letters written to Délaina by Josef
2) QUICK SYNOPSIS OF STORY:
Josef was married for 65 years to an “angelic” woman, meaning she was very spiritual, but with very little intellectual bent. She never worked, but lovingly raised three children. The story begins with her death at the age of 87 and the complete despair with which Josef, then aged 88, finds himself overwhelmed. Before her death, his wife assured him that he would meet another woman to help him complete his mission on earth. He did so, not two months after his wife’s passing. Her name was Délaina and he instantly fell in love with her.
Délaina, despite her having saved Josef from despair, was not “angelic”. She had a wonderful heart, big and deep, but she was a very sexual person, spoke her mind, was not afraid to embellish her speech with colorful expletives, and was also Josef’s junior by some 23 years. At the time they met, Délaina was also in a bad way, her husband of 15 years having abandoned her the previous Valentine’s Day. They came together as two wounded souls in need of comfort and companionship, each unable to bear the looming loneliness that their futures seemed to promise.
Ten months of turmoil ensued, during which Josef became estranged from all of his friends due to their disapproval of his relationship with Délaina, during which Délaina went through divorce proceedings, during which she and Josef actually bought a small bungalow and moved into together, and during which the two struggled to lay the groundwork and build a mutual understanding by which they could live peacefully together. After those ten months, on the evening of the day that they went to collect her final divorce papers, Délaina died of a massive and fatal coronary at the age of 65.
Josef was once more left bereft, but this time, thanks to the real world that Délaina showed him exists beyond the shelter he had enjoyed with his wife, he has discovered his purpose. His mission is to speak out in promotion of women’s rights and the abolition of inequality, abuse, and the gender imbalance that threatens to destroy our planet and the future of all humanity. He hopes that this story will enlighten others, but particularly, will give some modicum of strength to women who themselves have suffered, simply by knowing they are recognized, and knowing that even a man of 88 years can be awakened to their plight. There is cause to hope for change in the world.
3) MAIN CHARACTERS AND ANY IMPORTANT TRAITS, INTERACTIONS, OR RELATIONSHIPS TO EACH OTHER:
Josef: 88 years old. Not ugly, but… well, 88 years old. Tall, old-fashioned European gentleman. (He once spoke to me severely when I drank straight out of a beer bottle.) Very philosophical and tends to stand on a soapbox at times. Very pleading (VERY) in his letters to Délaina, desperate for her to love him as a wife would, as his wife did, clearly looking for a replacement for her, but will forever be incapable of recognizing his own psychology. Comes across at times as an object for deep pity, but at others verging on pathetic. Has some childlike emotions and behaviors; he so wants to be loved.
Délaina: 64 years old. Gorgeous and energetic. Always dressed beautifully with full hair and make-up. Big laugh, sparkly mischievous eyes. Has a pretty rough side, though. French-Canadian, grew up with three older brothers, and has a history of sexual abuse although it’s not spelled out per se in the book. Worked extensively with the elderly. Again, big heart, but terrible mood swings, at times lashing out, then breaking down in apologetic tears. So wanted to stay with her husband, but when that clearly was not going to happen, agreed to take care of Josef for the rest of his days, and in turn, he would take care of her financially and, as best he could, emotionally.
Josefine: Josef’s wife. The book basically begins with her funeral. The term “angelic” is oft repeated. She believed in angels. (In fact, they were everywhere when we took over their old house. I even found a tiny baby Jesus inside a cabinet clock on the wall.) She read palms, was very spiritual, and completely sheltered from the ills of the world. She lived in a rosy bubble of beauty and love. I think her only non-“angelic” indulgence was murder-mystery books. On her deathbed, she insisted that Josef would meet another woman and was not to even consider following her to the other side as he still had work to do on earth. Josef believes that Josefine orchestrated his meeting Délaina and watched over him for a time after her death.
All other characters are more or less superfluous. There are those that condemned the new relationship (for example, Pastor Sykes and his wife, Josef’s ex-daughter in law Cynthia, his daughter Virginia) and those that gave him encouragement and support (for example, his two sons, Thomas and Simon, Tom’s wife Jane, Délaina’s best friend Chantal).
4) OVERALL EMOTION OF THE BOOK (i.e. fun and quirky, dark and somber, thriller, happy and uplifting, etc):
There is very, very little humor in the book. It could be considered a tragic love story, I suppose, but if you were to pick it apart from a psychological perspective, it’s really about an elderly man who can’t face his wife’s death and makes every attempt to fill the hole that her death left in his life with another woman. He pleads, he makes promises, he beseeches… he’s desperate to do whatever Délaina wants to make her accept him forever. Tragic beginning, tragic end. The only thing that provides some relief from the letters are a few of Josef’s reminiscences of his days as a young man, each centered around a woman in some way, but with more of a historical rendering flavor. His philosophy about women needing to be recognized as equals as the essential turning point that will save humanity also emerges.
5) ANY SYMBOLISM/SYMBOLIC OR IMPORTANT ARTIFACTS THROUGHOUT STORY:
There are a few references to water…
“Bereft and simply floating through the motions of every day, I considered the invitation as a stray leaf might consider allowing itself to be carried by the current of the river.”
(This is shortly after Josefine’s passing and Josef is invited to a Mother’s Day supper where, of course, he meets Délaina)
I was a man overboard, staring up at the great side of a ship as it passed me and left me, slowly drowning in the waves, an eerie calm spreading over me, smothering me. The calm depths below were beckoning irresistibly.
And then, from out of the enormous blue sky, a small spark appeared. A lifeline. Somebody was giving me another chance. Somebody was saying, “Breathe. Come back. There is a new life waiting for you. You have a mission. You must not give up. I am here.”
And there you were. My Délaina.
(This is one of the first letters from Josef to Délaina.)
“My tactless remark, telling you to get over your bad mood, invoked your furious outburst, like a tidal wave that swept out of the ocean to smash you open on the harsh beach of reality. You breathed your last gasp of despair, ranting at me that I could never possibly comprehend your inability to ever enter properly into another engagement again. But then, exhausted and spent, the ocean calm, you seemed to come to some realization, you seemed to experience some revelation that there is a life for you in the aftermath after all, and we spent a quiet evening on the couch together watching TV.
My dearest Mermaid, you have been tossed from the turbulent waters. You have been floundering on shore alone, but you need no longer feel like a lost species among these cruel, strange humans. You may become your true, sweet self again, knowing you are truly loved. You are home at last and my arms are ever open to you.
(This is in one of Josef’s later letters to Délaina. This gives a good idea of the tone of the majority of the letters.)