Thrilled to host this guest post by Lynda Cohen Loigman, whose hardcover debut I inhaled in two days. Moving and evocative, THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE is a gripping, multigenerational story, woven around the deepest of secrets.The year is 1947. In the midst of a Brooklyn blizzard, two babies are born, minutes apart in a two-family brownstone. The mothers are sisters by marriage: dutiful, quiet Rose, who wants nothing more than to please her difficult husband; and warm, generous Helen, the exhausted mother of four rambunctious boys who seem to need her less and less each day. Raising their families side by side, supporting one another, Rose and Helen share an impenetrable bond forged before and during that dramatic winter night. When the storm passes, life seems to return to normal; but as the years progress, small cracks start to appear and the once deep friendship between the two women begins to unravel. No one knows why, and no one can stop it.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy, or RETWEET/SHARE this post to enter to win one! (US only; details below.) Now sit back and enjoy this glimpse into Lynda’s debut year.
WHEN MY HUSBAND READ MY NOVEL
My husband doesn’t read.
Don’t get me wrong – he can read. He reads newspapers, law journals, and the occasional magazine at the airport. But books? Novels? Not a chance.
To be fair, my husband is a lawyer and he is, in fact, reading constantly. He reads briefs, letters and complaints all day, and when he’s not reading them, he’s writing them. If he has a moment away from work, he craves a break from the written word. I get it, and I sympathize.
Except that now, I’m a writer. At my first writing class, six years ago, my teacher told us to bring in a few pages every week. “You’ll take turns reading out loud,” he said. For the first several weeks, I forced my husband to listen to my pages, usually at night and usually in bed. I would read to him out loud with my computer on my lap. Most of the time, he fell asleep before I was finished.
When I enrolled in that first class, I knew what I wanted to work on. I had been carrying a story around in my head for over 16 years and the time had come to write it down. My husband knew my characters, because over those 16 years, I had told him about them. But writing them into existence was another thing entirely. I wanted to share my process. I wanted him to love every word. Looking back, I realize how much I tortured him. Falling asleep was probably the kindest thing he could have done for some of those early chapters.
As time went on, I continued to read to my husband at night, but considerably less often. I had learned to recognize what worked and what didn’t, and I was no longer afraid to read to my classmates. Years went by, and I wrote pages and chapters of my story that my husband didn’t know about at all. Plot twists, new characters. I felt like I was keeping secrets from him.
And then one day, miraculously, I finished. I asked my husband if he wanted to read the manuscript, but he politely declined. “You know I don’t read books,” he said. The last novel he had read was THE DA VINCI CODE, ten years earlier. Of course I knew his policy, but still, I was miffed. Didn’t he want to read it? Was he afraid it would be awful?
I edited all summer, with the intention of sending the manuscript to an agent I had met at a conference in June. “Do you want to read it before I send it to the agent?” I asked. But my husband’s policy was firm.
That August, the agent called to say she wanted to represent me. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. When I told my husband, he was thrilled. He could not have been happier for me. He could not have been more proud. But when I asked again if he wanted to read my book, he still said no.
It was a difficult summer, and a painful autumn. My husband’s brother passed away that October at age 49, after an eight-month hospital stay. Even if my husband had been a reader, those months were not the time for it. There were too many more important things to think about. Plus, two of the characters in the story are brothers, and I worried about how my husband might deal with some of the more emotional chapters. I was glad he wasn’t reading it. I stopped asking if he wanted to.
In November, my agent sold my book to St. Martin’s Press. It was the first good news we had received in a long time, and my husband was thrilled. He told everyone he knew. He told me he was positive it would be a best seller and that it would be made into a movie one day. He didn’t need to read it to know that, he said. He just knew.
Winter creaked along. And then one day in December my husband came home from work and asked me a question about the story, a question he couldn’t have asked unless he had been reading it. It took him a few weeks of train rides, but when he was done, he told me that some of it made him cry. He told me he loved it.
“You did?” I asked, unable to wipe the grin off my face.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. In fact,” he continued, without the smallest trace of irony, “It’s the best book I’ve read in at least ten years.”
Lynda Cohen Loigman grew up in Longmeadow, MA. She received a B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is a student of the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives with her husband and two children in Chappaqua, New York. She is a failure at enforcing reasonable bedtimes. THE TWO-FAMILY HOUSE is her first novel.
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