Ya’ll know for the last month we, Book Lovers Unite group, have been chatting away about Randy Susan Meyer’s latest, THE COMFORT OF LIES?
A book that has characters than can be unlikable at times- a situation that connects everyone, and issues of trust, fidelity, love and what makes a mother a mother- this book was fast flowing for me. I turned the pages and was quickly sucked into the world Randy Susan Meyers created. It’s good- but it’s not all bunnies, rainbows and sparkles. It’s real- which makes it’s GOOD.
Randy Susan Meyers and I have been chatting about this book since I told her that it would be August Book Lovers Unite selection. She kindly agreed to answer a few of the questions we would have. If you need to catch up on week 1, week 2 and week 3 questions about reading- please do! Even though August is almost over- I’d still love for you to chime in as you read this book!
Randy Susan Meyers Answers:
Why did Nathan reveal his affair to Juliette? Because he was feeling guilty or something else?
Nathan stumbled home spinning on the news of Tia’s pregnancy. Spilling his affair to Juliette was, in fact, a selfish act: he was seeking absolution and safety. Never—not for a moment—had Nathan considered or envisioned being with Tia in ‘real life.’ His affair was a selfish and thoughtless act of self-gratification, but it was never meant as an escape from Juliette. Tia’s news threatened him into running to his safest place, which was Juliette and his family.
In addition, he was terrified that Tia might confront Juliette—so he pre-empts this possibility.
Tia and Juliette- the only thing they have in common is that they both love and have been loved by Nathan. Is either a better fit for the “real” Nathan? Or do both ladies complement different parts of his personality?
There is no doubt (to me) that Juliette is a far better fit for Nathan. To Tia, Nathan wasn’t a real person—he was a construct of her dreams of having a protector, a father-figure, and a more sophisticated man that the boys with whom she grew up. Neither of them was real to each other. Tia is Nathan’s ‘whore’ to Juliette’s Madonna, playing their roles in his Madonna-whore moment, a truth that Tia faces at the end of the book.
After finding out about the affair, should Juliette have taken some time to figure out her feelings, maybe even took a break from Nathan before they started working on their marriage?
Of course! But, as in most fiction (mimicking life) the characters take the worst (and thus, hopefully most compelling for reading) course. This sets up the fun of fiction (whether in books, TV, or movies) where the reader/watcher is tearing out her hair as the character takes wrong turn after wrong turn.
It’s been written (from studies) that reading novels of dysfunction is actually a good thing for people:
“Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us, and in that reflection we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience. Reading, then, becomes a means of self-affirmation, and readers often seek their mirrors in books.” http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/01/17/why-read-fiction/
I believe exploring the wounded and awful inside us is of great value—both for the ‘aha’ and the ways in which it allows us to explore ‘what would I do?’—as referenced in the article hyperlinked above.
Some worry about having ‘unlikeable characters’ in their books (and I’ve had some readers tell me they didn’t ‘like’ some or all of the women in my book,) but for me—both as a voracious reader and as a writer, exploring the dark sides of life that help me understand how to stay in the light.
Is Nathan truly sorry for his affair?
The question might be this: is he sorry he had it, or is he sorry that he got caught? I think in the end Nathan is truly sorry for the pain he caused Juliette and his sons. But, regret cannot erase pain. On reflection, I think he regrets having the affair, having told Juliette, and having been caught in the lies around his daughter.
Did Juliette truly forgive Nathan- or has she been deceiving herself all these years?
I believe there is forgiveness, and then there is forgetting. They are not the same.
We can forgive folks for acts, which engendered pain and hurt, but we can never forget them. These acts leave a scar. One might have a blanket–a lovely warm blanket–that tore. After sewing up the blanket it will still keep us warm, and perhaps we can arrange it on the bed so that it still looks pretty, but that ridge, that scar will always be there. We can live with it. But it’s never exactly the same. (Think of all the movies, jokes, television shows, etc, that when watched or heard together, will always cause a moment of discomfort for Nathan and Juliette.)
When Juliette read and kept the note from Tia to Nathan- did she cross the line from being a “victim” to sharing part of the blame in this situation?
What an interesting question! I think in this instance Juliette does became a part of the ongoing drama and holds responsibility for the cascade of events (especially towards Caroline!) but I don’t see her as crossing the line from victim to victimizer, per se (though I can see an argument being made for this vis a vis Caroline.)
Wow, this is what I love about book clubs–they bring new visions to the material.
It is certain that Juliette moves from being a quiet blameless victim, to having agency about her own future and to those around her. Before this (without her knowledge) a world connected to her family, and thus to her, grew around her. Now she is part of the mix.
I’ve written an epilogue, which I am putting out when the paperback releases, that will be sent to all book club members who’ve chosen The Comfort of Lies. This ‘bonus’ chapter will reveal the future, 8 years hence, and show further evidence of how Juliette’s actions had dramatic effect and change on all those involved.