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Posts Tagged ‘Four Wives’

wendy walkerI’m feeling very guilty these days. Yes, I know. This is hardly uncommon among mothers, especially working mothers. Still, when I sat down to write this blog for Working Girl Reviews, it was guilt that was on my mind.

Here is the source of this mind-consuming guilt. I love my work. I love writing, editing, thinking about what to write. I love working in pajamas from my bed or out on my little patio. I love the progression of a novel, from the little aha! moments that come while I’m carting the kids around or taking a long run in the woods, to seeing my book in a store. I love meeting people, writers, readers, bloggers and reviewers. I love talking to book groups about the issues my characters face, and even the author events that give me massive anxiety but always seem to go just fine.

I love my work. This should be a good thing. A gift, really. And what’s even better is that my work gives me a great deal of flexibility to be with my kids when they’re out of school. But another summer has come and gone, and I realize that I am the only mother among my peers who is jumping up and down with glee. Indeed, the other moms are lamenting the loss of carefree, unstructured days with their children, lounging at the pool or beach while their kids play with their friends, and sleeping in.

When I think about summer, I think about checking my BlackBerry while standing in line for a ride at Playland, sneaking interviews and twitter updates, and scrounging like a scavenger for time to meet revision deadlines. This job that is very manageable during the school year, is suddenly at odds with my other job as a mother. From May until September, I do a kind of mental gymnastics to give my three very energetic boys enough fun and exercise and mental stimulation, while still keeping my career afloat. Wherever I am, there is a part of my brain pulling me toward my desk.

A good friend of mine called the other day to catch up. She’s a partner at a very big law firm and has an awesome career. Lately, she said, she’s been swamped at work. When Friday night comes around, she feels like a new person. Her weekends are spent with her kids, hiking and exploring. We talked about how cute they are at these ages, and how precious this time is because they are growing up so fast. And while I agreed with all of that, I felt this pit in my stomach that for too much of the time I spend with my kids there is a part of me longing to work.

There it is. I’ve admitted it. I love my kids more than anything. And there are moments with them that are so spectacularly wondrous they eclipse any and all satisfaction that comes from work. Still, on a day to day basis, I am bitterly torn between them and my desire to pursue my career.

How is this to be reconciled? I ask myself this every day. For most of the year, I have it figured out. I belong to my job from 9-2, and I belong to them from 2-9. Given the morning hours to work in a steady and concentrated way, I can be totally present for my kids all afternoon and evening. I drive, cook, clean, supervise homework, get them to bed. We play outside and have bon fires and soak in the hot tub. And work is neatly tucked away. The year flows by and soon it’s winter, then spring. May eventually comes again, and the chaos is upon me.

I wonder many things about this. I wonder if it would be different if I worked in an office year round, if I had no choice to make between work and kids. I wonder if I’m going to wake up in 20 years and kick myself for pulling out that BlackBerry at Playland and not being fully present every chance I got. I know plenty about the dilemmas women have balancing work and family from editing a book (Power Moms) for Chicken Soup for the Soul. There is no perfect solution, and guilt abounds.

I have been a stay-home mom for eleven years. My career as an author used to be nothing more than a pipe dream that gave way to every demand the family had. I wrote whenever and wherever I could, but never when anyone or anything needed me. When that dream became more of a reality with my first book deal, I let it come in a little more, carving out time with babysitters so I could finish a chapter. Now, ten years later, it has become a career that I could easily work at day and night. My second novel, Social Lives, was just released and there is a movie deal in the works with the producers who made the Twilight series. Running through my mind are all the ways I could be promoting the novel, spreading the good news.

School started last week. As my kids dragged themselves out of bed early, I tried hard to mask my excitement. It wasn’t that I wanted to be without them. Yet I can’t deny that I was looking forward to the glorious treat that was coming my way. Time. Now that it’s here, I will make good use of it. And when it’s gone, I will savor my children who will soon be gone as well. Round and round it will go. I’m not sure I will ever figure any of this out. Maybe it’s enough that I can write about it.

Wendy Walker

http://wendywalkerbooks.com

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four-wives-paperbackFour Wives

By Wendy Walker

St. Martin’s Griffin Edition – April 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36772-5

Website: http://wendywalkerbooks.com

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Four-Wives-Wendy-Walker/dp/0312367724

Affluent suburbia with its tree lined streets, pretty homes, and lush green lawns. An idyllic setting, but like the black fungus invading the verdant lawns, a plague of discontent has settled over the wives of Hunting Ridge. Four wives, four friends, living lives that are inherently the same, yet different. All stay at home moms, all filled with the same discontent, but using different means of coping.

Gayle Beck comes from ‘old money’ and takes pleasure in the social status it guarantees. Her life appears perfect to anyone looking from the outside. But inside her beautiful 1890’s farmhouse, things are far more sinister and getting worse each day. She deals with her husband’s rage, and a young son who continually grows quieter and unhappier. Gayle wonders how much longer she’ll be able to keep up the appearance of a woman in control; even with the aid of the many pills her doctor prescribes.

Janie Kirk is a woman of great beauty and expert homemaking abilities. She’s the perfect wife and mother. Janie likes her life in Hunting Ridge, but grows restless and dissatisfied with her passionless marriage and the husband who doesn’t know nor does he care to know the real woman he’s married to. Turning to a torrid affair could spell the end of everything for Janie.

Marie Pesseti, a part time divorce attorney struggling to have it all. Marie was going crazy being a full time, stay at home mom and opened her own small law office specializing in father custody cases. She feels she’s losing her husband and daughters to the Hunting Ridge way of life, which she abhors. Working a difficult case and dealing with a cute new intern, Marie is close to taking a step that may change her life forever.

Love Welsh, a former child prodigy and illegitimate daughter of the great Alexander Rice is Marie’s next-door neighbor. Love is having a difficult time keeping things together, her home is a mess and she rarely has time to do much more than brush her hair. She knows her life is a wreck and worries constantly about her children, but can’t seem to find the energy to rectify it. A letter from her estranged father causes the ghosts from Love’s past to resurface and things go from bad to worse. Love develops horrific, debilitating back pain, but all the medical tests fail to explain the reason for it.

When it fell to me to read and review FOUR WIVES, I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice. It just isn’t my kind of story. There’s nothing I dislike more than reading about women with expensive educations, too much money and do too much whining. Women who have it all, but are never happy. Women who are doing what many women would love to do—stay at home and raise their children instead of going to a back breaking job and leaving the kids in day care, so they can make enough money just to get by. But keeping an open mine, I turned to the first page. The excellent writing pulled me into the story. The phenomenal characterization kept me there.

Although I found these four women unlikable, I liked them anyway. All four women are devoted mothers and fearful of making any choices that would adversely affect their children. I became absorbed in their lives and couldn’t stop turning the pages. Even though their lives are so far from my own, I could see tiny pieces of myself in each of them. I too have suffered from a bad marriage, dissatisfaction, depression, restlessness, and bone deep weariness. I too have had to keep my silence, and make tough choices for the good of my children and my sanity.

The characters created on these pages are so real, I could easily picture them as friends or sisters and like my own family and friends, I took them into my heart, faults and all. I rooted for them to make the right decisions. I wanted to shake Gayle and kept hoping she’d tell her shrink to F-off, and then kick her good for nothing husband out of the house. Marie is a snotty little witch devoted to family, loyal to friends, full of strength, courage and integrity. I loved her and could definitely see her as a best friend. I wanted to alternately hug Love, and shake her. And Janie, I wanted to slap her, hug her. I cried for her. And in the end, she broke my heart.

Ms. Walker is a gifted writer and knows how to keep her reader’s eyes glued to her words. Skillful plotting builds the tension page after page. I kept waiting for the hump to come. The one where the story loses me for a while and I can put it down to tend to necessary chores. It didn’t happen and the chores were left until I’d turned that last page. I highly recommend this book to all women regardless of their life’s circumstances.

FOUR WIVES is about women and sentiment, passion and marriage, motherhood and most of all friendship. I defy you not to find a small bit of yourself within its pages. It’s been several days since reading this story and I can’t get these women out of my mind. They aren’t easy to forget and I imagine will be with me for a long time.

  –Willow

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–Working Girl Reviews

https://workinggirlreviews.wordpress.com

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wendy walkerWorking Girl Reviews is excited to welcome Wendy Walker to our blog today.  

1.  Wendy, thanks so much for visiting with us and answering a few questions. Your novel, FOUR WIVES is up for review here at WGR. Tell us about the book and what inspired the story.

Four Wives was inspired by my life as a stay-home mom in the suburbs. All around me, I saw women who were conflicted by their deep love and commitment to raising their kids and the empty space that existed having left their other callings. This issue formed the first character I developed for the novel, whose name is Love Welsh. As I thought about this community and the people around me, I saw other issues worth exploring and I created characters and plot to give life to those issues. At the same time, I wanted Four Wives to be a fun, fast-paced read with lots of suspense. What resulted, I hope, is just that – a great read with deeper issues that linger long after the book is finished.

2.  FOUR WIVES paints a portrait of life in the suburbs as idyllic on the surface, but far from rosy in reality. Do you feel this could be true of any community—city, rural, small town, or more a symptom of wealthy suburbia?  

I think because these small, insular suburban communities are so homogeneous, there is a greater propensity to hide any thoughts or feelings that truly question the life choices that have been uniformly made. Here is an example of what I mean. Most of the families in these communities have working dads and stay-home moms. The women will talk about their discontentment with this situation up to a point, but it is only with their trusted friends (and sometimes not even then) that they will confess a deeper unhappiness that might lead to a change such as going back to work or even divorce.

3.  Your bio states that you’re a former commercial litigator and investment banker. Does this mean your desire to write came later or was it put on hold while pursuing your other career?

It came later for sure. I quit work as a lawyer when I had my first son. I really wanted to create more balance in my life, which had been so focused on work. But as I settled into stay-home life, I realized I was growing anxious and unhappy, so I tried to find something I could do in a few hours here and there each week that would be intellectual, meaningful and also a potential gateway to a career that I could pursue while being at home with my kids. Writing was what I found, and of course it had been in the back of my mind somewhere. My first inclination was actually to write legal thrillers!

4.  On your website it says you were trained as a competitive figure skater and are a long time supporter and board member of the Figure Skating in Harlem organization. Tell us more about this organization and your involvement.

FSH is a fantastic organization that targets at-risk girls in Harlem. By providing them with a full-service afterschool program, which includes skating and educational components, the girls gain self-esteem and self-discipline. This program has incredible success keeping girls focused on their studies and themselves during years that often lead to teen pregnancy and substance abuse. I became involved at its inception almost 12 years ago because it was started by my best friend from college, Sharon Cohen. You can check out FSH at http://Figureskatinginharlem.org !

5.  You have a new release coming in September 2009 titled SOCIAL LIVES. Is it along the same lines as FOUR WIVES or totally different?

Social Lives has the same basic structure as Four Wives in that it follows a few characters whose lives are intertwined. This time, however, the women live in an even wealthier community driven by hedge fund wealth, and the issues that underlie the characters and plot are a bit more serious and timely. From teenage promiscuity to the predicament of a wife whose husband is about to lose everything to a hedge fund scandal (sound familiar?), this book moves quickly and surprises readers all the way to the last page.

6.  Some of WGR’s readers are aspiring writers and, as most writers looking to be published, they’d appreciate knowing what it was like for you. Was it a long process? Did you send a hundred or so submissions, receive any rejections…?

It was long, but worth it! I started writing as a hobby with intention and because I was having babies during the first five years after I began, it took me about that long to finish a novel. The key for me in finding an agent and eventually selling my first book was getting professional feedback and revising heavily. As a self-taught writer, I knew I needed this and I found a wonderful writing professor who critiqued my work. This was so important for me and I found an agent soon after by sending out about 60 submissions using the books that are out there on literary agents and the like. There are many ways to break in and the first things any writer should do are perfect their manuscript, use any and all connections to get their work read, and then blanket the market to find an agent.

7.  Besides family and writing, what are your other passions?

I’m not sure I even remember! I love seeing my close friends for hours at a time over dinner or a walk. I like to run and hike and do so almost every day. But really, my work is writing and I love it. For so many years, it was my escape from the daily grind of raising kids and taking care of a house and I still view every hour that I am writing as leisure time. That is the very best part of this job for me!

8.  What’s a typical day like in the life of Wendy Walker?

Wake up to three little boys climbing in my bed. Make breakfast, get them dressed, drive them to school or camp. Then a run in the woods, and home to work. I start out with some PR or editing side jobs, and then hunker down on the floor by my fire or by my picture windows in my study to write. There is always lots of coffee involved! I can do this indefinitely, but usually only have a few hours before it’s time to pick up kids and drive them all over for sports and activities. From 2pm on, I am a mom again and that consumes me completely. By 9pm, I am usually in my bed watching some TV while I wait for my oldest to finish reading and puttering in his room so I can tuck him in. Then I tuck myself in. Very dull, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

9.  Is there anything about you that your readers would be surprised to learn?

OK here goes. I actually don’t read as much as other writers do and I don’t read books in my own genre (yikes!). I find that if I do this, my own writing style and process starts to take on the tone of what I am reading at the moment. So that leaves vacations and plane rides, of which I have few. Instead, I watch movies and great character- driven TV to keep my sense of storytelling alert. Also, I am an editor for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, so look for my books under those titles as well!

10. Wendy, thank you for spending time with us today. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Where’s the best place to go online to find out more about you and your work?

I think the message I really want to convey is that while my work is packaged in a way that resembles Desperate Housewives and the like, my novels are truly driven by real-life issues that I believe impact women everywhere. I have been so pleased to find that readers relate to my characters and the struggles they face. This is always my intention when I sit down to write and I hope that readers who enjoy this type of book will find me! You can learn a lot more at wendywalkerbooks.com. Thanks so much!!

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