Message From The Author
A battle of wits and words makes up the centerpiece of recent sensation Connie Brockways latest novel, MY DEAREST ENEMY, a romantic comedy modeled on those of the 1940s. The author cites the Spencer Tracy-Katherine Hepburn team-ups of that era, specifically the dynamic between the two characters in Adams Rib, as the driving paradigm for the relationship between her hero and heroine. Revolving around the centerpiece are three characters who would be misconstrued if labeled secondary as they are essential to the life of the central duo.
Brockway intentionally placed her hero and heroine into a conflict that would also bring them together. Avery Thorne and Lily Bede compete for the inheritance of an estate that belonged to Averys uncle. The conditions of the will stipulate that Lily must manage the estate and turn a profit by the end of five years time or lose it to Avery, who is passing the time on international adventures until he gets whats rightfully his. The deceaseds motivation is to teach Lily, the over-educated suffragette, and Avery, the weakling, a lesson. He wishes to mold them into his own ideas of who he believes they should be: a proper gentleman and a proper Victorian woman. His plan backfires, however, as both prove wrong his pessimistic and narrow-minded notions.
As Lily is put in charge of doling out Averys monthly allowance, a correspondence, initially cold and antagonistic, ensues.
Thus begins the increasingly interested banter and exchange of ostensibly hostile quips.
Connie has always written, but she began her career only after shed settled her daughter into kindergarten. In the beginning, she wrote articles and essays, what she terms important stuffthe kind of writing the patriarchy tells you is good. The great American novelthat kind of idea. And though romance novels had always been her light reading of choice, she didnt wake up to the reality of her purpose as a writer until after grad school. As she says, I was writing someone elses book. I discovered I was writing for the reader in other people when I needed to write for the reader in me.
When asked about the heros blossoming from frail asthmatican anti-hero, reallyto muscular adventurer, Brockway explains, I wanted to do a turn on self-perception and self-fulfilling prophecies My daughter has asthma and is very frail-looking, and yet shes very athletic. She rides horses, plays volleyball With Avery I wanted his sense of self to overpower his uncles.
Her heroine, Lily, goes through changes too, though hers are more internal than Averys. She too poses a challenge to preconceived notionsin this case, of women. Yet it is admittedly (and shamefully) tempting to expect such a brave, verbally agile feminist as the heroine, to eventually be conquered by somethingor someone.
The author is refreshingly honest in her responses, saying, I wanted to make her a feminist: strong-minded and capable, but realistic. She succeeds [on her own]and her success isnt lost because of the love she develops for Avery. I feel that anyone who isnt experiencing the full spectrum of emotions is losing. [Lilys] been afraid, closed off to love. So, really, shes not conquered by love, but becomes willing to take a chance that might bring her new experiences and a deeper life
It is not only the heroine who carries the burden of representing the woes of the second sex in MY DEAREST ENEMY. Womens issues are woven throughout the story in amusing, unique ways. It was really important to have the relationship between women be as importantwell, not as important, its a romancebut that there would be no scarlet-nailed women trying to do each other in. Different women are brought together to accept each other. I wanted Lily to be the knight in shining armor for another womanin this case, Evelyn [a co-inhabitant of the estate and Averys cousin]. I wanted all these relationships to last rather than dissolve because the man and woman fall in love.
The lovemaking is another aspect of the novel that is treated in a manner more complex and realistic than in many. As we all know, its not often a simple matter. Making love, she says, is one of the most problematic things these two characters can do. Considering their widely divergent thoughts on marriage and children, sex cannot be merely an expression of feelings.
So, after the attraction is admitted and expressed between hero and heroine, what keeps the story going? It seems that an author would have to invent all kinds of trouble for her characters to keep the reader involved. If you reach [this] point, Brockway asserts, the second part is they have to do something about itcommit. In most romances, once youve convinced the reader theyre going to stay together, the emotional story is over. In MY DEAREST ENEMY, its the beginning of the problem.
Connie Brockways previous books are: Promise Me Heaven (Avon, 94), Anything For Love (Avon, 94), A Dangerous Man (Dell, 96), As You Desire (Dell, 97) and All Through the Night (Dell, 97). Correspondence can be sent to the following addresses: P.O. Box 828, Hopkins, MN 55343; and firstname.lastname@example.org
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