I'd like to welcome Emily Listfield, author of a fantastic new book called BEST INTENTIONS. I recently read and reviewed this book, and I just can't stop thinking about it. You really must read it!
I am so excited to have "discovered" a new-to-me author and will definitely be reading her other books. As you can see from her essay below, she is just a great writer and definitely has a way with words. I love how she touches on so many of the issues in her novel that really made me think.
As a writer and a mother, the line between life and fiction is an ever vacillating one. People are naturally curious about how much of a character is based on my experiences – but the truth is often blurry. In Best Intentions, the narrator, Lisa, has two daughters, Phoebe, 11, and Claire, 13. Though I have only one 15-year-old daughter, I used elements of her personality (and her friends) in both girls – Phoebe’s unique blend of ‘laser like focus and forgetfulness – she can concentrate on an assignment for hours but will leave it on the bus,’ the way gum-chewing, fashion-loving Claire “is still slightly uncomfortable in the nascent world of teen rebellion and wavers dizzyingly between affection and affectation.” (Okay, maybe the way Lisa suddenly feels a need to hide her own gum-chewing habit, to ‘take the parental high road ‘is just the slightest bit autobiographical.)
Most of all, though, there is Lisa’s love of her children and how much it weighs into her decisions about her marriage. Lisa is 39, married to Sam, her college boyfriend. With two children and mounting financial pressures, she feels Sam pulling away from her. She begins to suspect he is having an affair. As the evidence accumulates, Lisa doesn’t know what to do. She is hesitant to confront Sam, to risk losing all that they have together. “Children change your stake in the world,” Lisa thinks. “certainly in your marriage, It sometimes feels – this afternoon, tonight – that you are in a fragile boat together and every instinct is to right it, keep it afloat no matter what, and the fear that you will make the wrong move, tip it over, can still the breath in your lungs.” It is only when she begins to suspect that Sam may have committed a crime far worse than adultery that everything comes to a head. What is he capable of? What is she capable of?
You’ll have to read Best Intentions to find out what Sam did or didn’t do and whether Lisa stays in the marriage or has an affair. The truth I will tell you now, though, is that having children always raise the ante, in fiction and in life. And it is never more important to ask yourself – how well do you really know the people you love?