The same year my mother was diagnosed with the blood disease that would eventually kill her–Myelodysplasia–my husband, Martin, also learned he had tonsilar cancer.
My mother had been my only parent since my father’s sudden death from a heart attack, at the age of fifty-one, when I was only nineteen.
For a quarter-century, my husband had been my soul mate, best friend, and lover.
When it rains, it pours.
That was also a year in which I was “between publishers,” as we say. In other words, I didn’t know if a publisher would ever take a chance on one of my novels.
I found some solace, in reading.
I stuck with the classics, one of which was Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice. Her exemplary turn of phrase was exactly what I needed at the time, as well as the lightness that comes with the comic machinations of a mother who is trying to marry off five daughters. When two wealthy gentleman come to town, all bets are off. The plot if filled with girls behaving badly, cads behaving odiously, sisters and brothers behaving nobly, and more than a touch of scandal.
In other words, really good stuff.
What makes Pride and Prejudice more than a good book–in fact, a great book– is the author’s ability to reveal true depth in her characters; to expose their flaws and weaknesses, and yet allow them to redeem (or expose) themselves with their actions.
This book celebrates its two-hundredth anniversary next year. Its status as classic is secured for eternity because human nature hasn’t changed one iota. As in the book, our pride keeps us from admitting when we are wrong, and our prejudices of complete strangers or mere acquaintances are formed by gossip, or bad first impressions.
No one is perfect, and yet “perfection” is a standard in which we judge others, waiting for them to prove us right for being wary of them.
So, when we have our own fall from grace, why do we internalize it as a “comeuppance”? Do you really believe you deserved such trials and tribulations?
Well, you don’t.
You deserve a happy, satisfying well-lived life.
I guess it’s true what they say: what doesn’t kill you (or your loved ones) only makes you stronger.
So that I wasn’t consumed by worry, that year I followed a whimsical goal: Iwrote the libretto for a musical version of Pride and Prejudice. I convinced Rita Abrams, a friend who also happens to be an Emmy-winning composer and musical composer, to collaborate with me on it.
Rita’s wordplay and harmonies are phenomenal. I invite you to check out some of it. In It is a Truth, the two wealth bachelors bemoan money’s role in marriage. In Assembly Ball Buzz, a dance provides the perfect petri dish for innuendo and passion. In Being Married, two characters who have “settled” for the imperfect mate sing as to why that has in fact provided them comfort they’d hoped for.
Working on it with Rita was some of the most fun I’ve had. It saved me from an abyss of fear.
Sadly, my mother died within eighteen months of her prognosis.
God answered one prayer: that my husband’s cancer be caught in situ.
It took three operations to validate this. If his remission holds this year, his odds of it showing back up are the same as you or I getting slammed with it.
A year later I signed with a new publisher, for two more books.
This winter, Pride and Prejudice – The Musical will be produced in London, by the Ruislip Operatic Society. I’ll be sure to keep you informed of the dates and venue, as soon as they are publicly announced.
Rita and I will be there, as will Martin.You can’t imagine how happy I am to be able to share this milestone with him.
The way I see it, you can curse your fate, or count your blessings.
I do the latter.
Of the three songs I’ve linked to in my post, which one do you like best? Post one line of lyric, and you’ll be eligible to win an audio CD demo of the songs from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE — THE MUSICAL, autographed by me.