Author Topic: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15  (Read 23242 times)

JoanP

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So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« on: August 14, 2010, 10:21:21 PM »







So Happy TOGETHER

with Author

Maryann McFadden

We are honored to have author Maryann McFadden join us for an in-depth conversation about her book! Join us today!



Discussion Schedule:



Aug15 to Aug 20--Read and discuss- Prologue thru Chap 12
Aug 21 thru Aug 26--Read&discuss-Chap 13 thru Chap 25
Aug 27 thru Sept 1-- R&D--Chap 26 thru 38
Sept 2 thru 5--R&D--Chap 39 thru Epilogue  [/font]


Discussion Leader: Adoannie

Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2010, 09:35:58 AM »
Good morning fellow readers!
Welcome to "So Happy Together", where in the prologue we find Claire, a high school teacher for the school's history honors class as she watches over the class taking their final exam and  while she spends her time trying to decide about applying to take a photography class set up in Cape Cod.  The requirements are submitting a portfolio of her pictures and waiting to see if the instructor finds her one of the ten students he will choose to learn about the "light" in Cape Cod.  
Famous for over a century, the "light" has drawn many artists to the area around Cape Cod.  Its described as legendary, alive and supernal (heavenly).  Claire's friend, the school nurse, thought she should try to get in the class.  What will she decide to do?
 
What do you think about her description of many of today's teachers?  Have you heard this downer before?  That they are just serving out their time to get early retirement and a big pension and great benefits??

As we are introduced to Claire's family, what is your reaction to her parents?  Her best friend, Abbie?  And Claire's acceptance of her fiancee, Rick, and his neatness foilble, his being a positive thinker to become a winner in the game of golf, his desire for moving away from this small town in New Jersey?

Lets read and follow this hardworking single mom as she tries to make sense of her life with her daughter, Amy, who has left the nest that Claire provided for her for many years, and is also trying to fly on her own.  Where has she been for the last 18 months and why did she leave so abruptly??

And who, early in this story, is the man who is going to lease her house for the summer??

 
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

pedln

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2010, 10:27:40 AM »
Welcome, MaryAnn McFadden.  We really appreciate your giving of your time to be here, and I'm certainly looking forward to meeting you in person in New York.

Quote
What do you think about her description of many of today's teachers?  Have you heard this downer before?  That they are just serving out their time to get early retirement and a big pension and great benefits??
  Oh yeah, right.   :'(   NOT!

Well, I guess because I'm from a very small city in a rural area (with close to 50% of the student body eligible for free or reduced lunch) I don't see these kinds of teachers.  The ones I know/knew work their butts off.  Early retirement/big pension?  It's all based on years of service and current salary.  And the teachers contribute 14% of that each year to their "big" teacher retirement.

Quote
As we are introduced to Claire's family, what is your reaction to her parents?

Franny, the mother, is not like any 70 somethings I know.  She seems more like someone from a generation ago.  Why doesn't she drive?  I have a friend who. because of epilepsy, has never driven, but I have a hard time understanding why someone who can drive, doesn't.  I have to think a little more about Franny.  She seems to not have broken away from her mother yet.


Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2010, 10:40:22 AM »
But her closeness to her sister and her mother who are both dead is really a strong part of the story.  One can only hope that Fanny's life improves.
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Finnabair

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2010, 10:59:01 AM »
What do you think about her description of many of today's teachers?  That they are just serving out their time to get early retirement and a big pension and great benefits??

I've heard everything bad there is about teachers, having been one for fifteen years in a small rural school district.  If *anyone* thinks we are in it for a big pension and great benefits, they haven't kept up.  My pension will be $500 a month if I take early retirement, and if I want the post retirement health insurance, the monthly premium will eat that pension payment.

As we are introduced to Claire's family, what is your reaction to her parents?  Her best friend, Abbie?  And Claire's acceptance of her fiancee, Rick, and his neatness foilble, his being a positive thinker to become a winner in the game of golf, his desire for moving away from this small town in New Jersey?

Claire's parents remind me of older folks two generations ago when the woman was likely not to drive, etc.  However, one aspect of Fanny reminds me of my situation.  I have two grandchildren, and my sons have both let me know that my input is not really appreciated.  I think this is a common experience among grandparents in our society.

Rick.... Sigh.  What *was* she thinking.  He's a controlling neatnik.  He wants her to move away from her aging parents.  She doesn't see the signs. 


Drink more goat milk!

ginny

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2010, 11:08:42 AM »
Good morning, all, and welcome, Maryann, I have a million questions for you about the book!

Talking about Fanny, and the characters in these first 12 chapters, I was really struck by some readers saying they were "angry" at the characters.  When you write a book whose characters are strong enough to induce emotions of any kind, you've done something.

I kept trying to figure out which of them had sparked some ire, read carefully thru the first 12 chapters, our bit to discuss this week, would those of you who felt that way like to say?

Pedln, we're totally different on Fanny.  I'm not quite 70 but I love Fanny. Maybe I'm projecting her on to my late friend and neighbor Fannie Lou, but I love her.

It's her inner musings which really hit me like a bomb. What do the rest of you think? To me she's right, in her feelings and true. She knows she can't keep up this life but she keeps hoping against hope "IT" will not come.  She wants to help with the baby. Pedln, the non driving did take me back a bit, maybe she's like a lot of wives whose husbands totally dominate, I think in fact it says that somewhere. Now she's going to have to stand on her own and be the strong one.

Who of us has not seen that in somebody as we've come thru life?

I guess my first question to Mayrann is: HOW did you manage to capture the feelings of Fanny so accurately? Her self musings are spot on with my own. You don't appear to be 70, but you have the entire thing  perfectly done. The memories of Mama, the feelings of loneliness (this is not my situation, I hasten to add, my children come every weekend, and I keep my grandbaby), but I know the inner heart's whispers and you've captured that, for this woman, and her aging, perfectly: the hidden fears of aging.

How did you do that? What did you call upon?

Things I am not sure about: Amy delivering a baby she did not know/ want to realize she was having. I have heard of such things when the mother was obese, is Amy obese? Why didn't her mother notice she was pregnant? Something wrong with her eyesight?

The lodger refusing to leave? Aren't there laws or something? He turned out nicely, but if we were in the same situation, could one not call the police? The two of them staying in the same house the first night.

Rick not told. (When was he told, when he arrived home?) Now to me that indicates something pretty strong. She's not exactly forthcoming with Rick, is she?  Neither is her mother with her. She wants her shot in life, her new career, her new husband, she does not dare to say my daughter is home, with a baby, my parents are in trouble.  That's not good. HE'S got their entire life planned out, his way.

hmmm

 When does she tell him, other than when she surprised him? What have I missed?

What does his strange cryptic remark mean "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you think you deserve?"

What do you all think of that remark? I am still vacillating between lose this jerk,  and is  is he some Wise Man whose meanings I can't decipher?

Questions I'm pondering,  and I wonder what you all think, too.

I love the book. To ME Fanny is the strongest character. I wonder if that was intended, but perhaps you all disagree?

Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2010, 12:01:37 PM »
I have to say that I have heard these same bad things said about teachers but then there are all the good ones who receive awards every year and who you hear talking about returning each year with excitement in their voices.  Looking forward to the new faces and different personalities.  
I was lucky enough to have a 2nd grade teacher living next door to me while we raised our children.  She gave me many insights into my little ones and was such a great friend to all of us.  She was my kids' other mother.

Yes, I think Franny is going to be a favorite here after we get deeper into the story.  She certainly has a question about Amy.  I am sorry she hasn't had a happy life but why didn't she ask Joe about this old girlfriend??  No way, could I have put up with those thoughts and not said something.
 
Rick is coming across as my least favorite, always centered on himself and his plans to play golf professionally, wanting to move away from Claire's parents.  And to the heat of Arizona?? Ugh!!  And then telling Claire she's a borderline slob!  I don't like this guy!

I have heard of pregnant girls not showing their pregnancy and even not knowing they were pregnant 'til the baby came.

Since I am close to the same age as the parents, I also feel that the they are what we here call "Elderly".  Well, let me tell you about elderly!  I had a dr who called me elderly or included me in that class and I didn't pick up on it 'til I was driving away from the office call!  Well, I am thinking, don't be callin' me elderly!  I'll tell you when I am elderly!!   Hey, I don't mind "senior" but elderly really sets me off.  Its a state of mind!  And I'm not there yet.
And how about Abbie with her drunken husband that she can't bring herself to leave? What's the reason for bringing her into the story?  And her daughter who is so slow?? But is Amy's friend??? What is going on there?
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2010, 12:40:46 PM »
Hello Everyone!
Well, we are off to a lively start! I will try to answer as many questions as I can, but may have to come back to a few.

First, teachers! I hope that didn't offend anyone, truly. I live in a small town, and we have wonderful teachers, and some not so wonderful. Some who are inspiring students, and some who should simply find another way to make a living because they are doing quite the opposite. Claire is a wonderful teacher, and she is simply venting a bit about the rest. As for her big retirement money, that was never said. Rick is the one with the money, she'll simply get an early pension.

She's a woman who's lived her entire life for others, and while Rick doesn't appear perfect, he's a nice, good looking guy, who's got a good side to him, treats her well, and is offering her love and security, a future, which doesn't come along often for a woman in her forties. And she has alot of fun with him and has grown to care for him. Yes, she's overlooking some faults, and keeps some things to herself, but she's an optimist and believes that in the end it will work out...we'll see.

As for Amy's pregnancy, it's not uncommon for a "big" girl to be able to mask something like that. In fact, I have an acquaintance who actually had this exact situation happen--she delivered her grandson on the living room floor!

Now for Fanny, who is, actually, my favorite character. I'll be right back with her post  :)

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2010, 12:48:35 PM »
Fanny is my favorite character! And yes, she is not today's "modern" senior, she's a bit of a throwback. Fanny came from a traditional Italian family, as did my own mother, and mother-in-law, both 81, and both took care of their husbands in that way, their job was to cook and take care of the house.

My mother-in-law lives in a small city much like Fanny's and never learned to drive, although she took lessons a few times. My mother learned to drive at 37, because in Brooklyn she didn't need to. In many cities, alot of people don't have cars, so this is just a different way of life some of us cannot imagine. Me, especially, because my car is my freedom!

The fact that she never asked Joe about this other woman is also a bit of her old fashioned way. She is full of pride, and I saw that alot in my mother's big Italian family. And it's not like she thought of it all the time, as in life, things get forgotten, we get busy, but then at some point, it's brought to the forefront again. And this is what happens with Fanny.

I've been really blessed to be surrounded by some amazing older women in my life, right up to aunts in their 90's, and they are my favorite characters to create, because I think the older characters are vastly overlooked in today's fiction. And who says you can't still have dreams right up until your last breath?


Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2010, 02:19:20 PM »
Quote
And who says you can't still have dreams right up until your last breath?
Maryann,

Boy, I can't disagree with that.  Some have dreams of maybe a different life or a chance for a different occupation.  I had a grandmother who was a stay-at-home wife her whole life but if someone had given her the chance, she could have run a business.  I have written little short stories about her as she had a huge influence on my life and I loved her dearly.  She didn't believe in keeping her mouth shut when it came to advice either.  She either approached her quarry softly or if you didn't live in her town, she wrote you letters of advice.  She saved my marriage once or twice when she heard me complaining to my mother about my life.  I still have one of those letters as I consider it a classic.

"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

CallieinOK

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2010, 05:24:01 PM »
Marking my place in what is starting out to be a very interesting discussion..


ALF43

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2010, 09:45:56 PM »
OMG- let me tell you about my baby sitter when my kids were small.  She was at my home daily, just hanging out, whether or not she was paid to be there.  She had gained weight steadily and had begun to wear "larger" sizes, complaining all of the time of her heftiness.  
One afternoon her dad called me over to her house (2 doors down from ours) asking me to check her out.  She apparently had a severe back ache and they thought that she might be passing a kidney stone.  I went right over, assessed her, checked her back, asked her numerous questions about her urine and then asked her to lie on her back so that I could check her bladder.  EEEEEEEEKKKKKK
She was in active labor, I thought that I was going to faint.  I just looked at her and said "Wendy, you are  about to have this baby, I am calling your dad in here right now and you will be going to the hospital ASAP."

I shook all of the way home!  How could an experienced nurse miss this one?  I beat up on myself for years over that fact.
So--- when reading about this kid Amy having a baby- I was transported back to 1976, and none too proud.

I love this story, love every single character except that jack ass, good looking  golfer.  I can not stand this guy, I know him.  GRRRRRRRRRRRR :-\

I get Joe, he is a fool, but I get him.
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

pedln

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2010, 12:33:54 AM »
Bridge club coming up in a few days.  I must remember to ask my former colleagues if they remember the "bathtub baby."  ONe of our students did not know she was pregnant, her mother did not know she was pregnant.  As Grandma told the story --the girl was taking a bath and then there was a baby in the tub.

Claire seems to be really bonding with the baby during the feeding hours.  MaryAnn, when setting up the scenes after Amy's delivery, did the possibility of her becoming a nursing mother ever come up?

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2010, 07:12:38 AM »
Wow, you have some amazing stories! I've heard many others, too, and for Amy, who was scared and in denial, and immature for her age, she wasn't really facing reality. She thought she had more time, and she thought her mother was leaving, so she was planning to hang out there and figure out what came next. But of course...the baby came early!

Nursing the baby was a thought of mine, and it does come up, perhaps you're not there yet. Don't want to spoil anything for anyone so I'll wait on that one.

Keep the questions coming!

PS. My son was born in 1976, and I know for that girl who had the baby, your neighbor's daughter, it must've been devastating. Not like today, when everyone seems to have babies before getting married, especially Hollywood LOL.

Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2010, 08:01:33 AM »
Maryann,
Being an attentive gran,  I found myself tearing up when Fanny remembers losing Amy to the new baby sitter.  I think I know just how she felt.  I have a friend whose son and wife both worked so she had her grandson full time until he was in kindergarten.  The couple divorced in the middle of  that 5 or 6 yrs and Grandma was there for Josh in his formative years.  When he went off to school, the mother remarried so Josh went to live with her.  He is a great kid thanks to the loving care he receive from grandma and grandpa. 
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2010, 08:11:32 AM »
Downtown Gahanna,

My mother did the same thing! Watched my nephew, and then when my brother and his wife divorced, my mother truly became like his mother. When my brother remarried, there were some tough times, a bit of a power struggle as his new wife took over, sometimes a little too heavy handed. To this day, my 44 yr old nephew calls my mother, his grandmother, "Ma"

ginny

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2010, 09:35:57 AM »
Maryann, I've got a question. HOW were you able to enter the skin of a 70 year old so accurately as to the fears and feelings of Fanny? What was your inspiration? You don't appear (at least from the photo above) to be 70?

I was really struck by your accurate portrayal.

mrssherlock

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2010, 02:04:34 PM »
There are so many characters in my life who could step into this book.  My sister's MIL, born in Ireland, married a man  born in Italy.  She never drove.  The Irish and the Italian seemed to meld completely, family was everything, huge gatherings at every possible excuse.  My first houe' neighbor, slightly older than my 22 yrs, never drove.  We were stay-at-home moms in those days and all her neighbors helped her, carrying her to the market, doctor's office, etc.  Her dry cleaning was delivered as was her pharmacy purchases.

Controlling husbands/BFs were expected; my friends disappeared from my life and his family/friends/colleagues took over all my social life.  He told me about his Navy time, cleaning a bathroom with a toothbrush, makes someone obsessive with neatness.  Putting the needs of everyone else ahead of my own, beginning with parents who were full of blame, resulted in my assumption that my expectations were unreasonable and disaster was always my fault.  Claire's career in teaching gave her more backbone than I had but she seems too eager to slip into the dependence mode her fiance demands to be comfortable for me.  Fannie is my favorite, too.
Jackie
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

bellamarie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2010, 06:15:41 PM »
WOW!  I am a day late and amazed at the responses.  Mary Ann I must tell you I love this book!   There are so many ways I am relating to it.  I am from a big Italian family and many of the women never drove.  My mother in law did not learn to drive until she was retired and her husband had past away, I want to say she was around 68 yrs old and that was thirty years ago.  Her daughter did not learn to drive until she was in her 60's, I have two cousins who are the same age as me 58 and neither of them drive.  I know many women who do have their license and for some reason do not drive because much like Fanny its easier to just get in the passenger's seat and let the husband drive.  I drive very little myself and worry if anything happens to my husband how will I manage, because I have lost my confidence in driving.

I can relate to Fanny even though you have not modernized her character to fit into today's world so to speak.  I am very modern with alot of old fashion values.  I have and will continue to be the day care provider for ALL of my grandchildren.  I opened my own day care after teaching in a private school for fifteen years, once my first grandchild was born and my son and the mother were not married.  I decided it was a dream I had wanted to make happen and the opportunity knocked and have been doing it now twelve years and going on a soon to be sixth grandchild.

I LOVE all the characters with their strengths and weaknesses, their idiosyncrasies and all.  I am not fond of the fiance but I can see Claire feeling he would be the perfect husband in the sense he is challenging her to think and do for herself and is not holding her back, also he wants her to experience breaking away from her small town living.  I grew up in a small town and love the fact my husband took me away to a different state and large city.  He does not seem to bode well with all that is unexpectedly happening which leaves me to think he won't be sticking around.  Now for John the renter...hmm...I couldn't see any guy actually holding her to the contract and stay in her home even one night so that I decided to accept as the romance beginning as many books do.  Not a criticism, just an observation.  I have to admit I am struggling with my emotions with this book.  I am so sad reading the parts of Fannie and her husband's health failing them.  God I think about that all the time, about how it will be when my husband and I start realizing age is catching up with us.  My heart aches for them.

I also relate to Claire because I have one daughter (two sons) and she and I had many rounds as she went through her rebellious years.  She is married and happily living many states away and it works best for the both of us.  We love each other and talk on the phone almost every day, but would not survive living in close proximity's.   Amy's immature and selfish behavior brings back the memories even to the point my daughter did indeed move out one day in a huff and we didn't speak for months.  She left no way of me knowing where she was until she got in over her head and needed Mom & Dad's  help.  Of course, just like Claire we welcomed her back with open hearts and arms.

I haven't read up to the point someone mentions about a new babysitting situation so I guess I'd better get back to the book.   I am enjoying this book so much and all the posts.  Mary Ann what a treat to have you with us.   
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

ALF43

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2010, 07:32:39 PM »
Quote
Controlling husbands/BFs were expected; my friends disappeared from my life and his family/friends/colleagues took over all my social life.  He told me about his Navy time, cleaning a bathroom with a toothbrush, makes someone obsessive with neatness.  Putting the needs of everyone else ahead of my own, beginning with parents who were full of blame, resulted in my assumption that my expectations were unreasonable and disaster was always my fault.  Claire's career in teaching gave her more backbone than I had but she seems too eager to slip into the dependence mode her fiance demands to be comfortable for me.  Fannie is my favorite, too.

MrsSherlock- I fear that there are still a great deal more women living this way today than we would care to admit.  Women are just like that, I think, multi-tasking and  allowing  their focus to be on everyone else in their families, albeit themselves.  Claire remarked that Rick always told her to focus and not flit from one project to another.  I can surely relate to that problem. ;D
 
Well- we women do not focus enough on our own desires.  I love this character who had the guts to try, even though responsibility and duty called her.
Carpe dieum Claire, chase that dream.

I
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

ALF43

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2010, 07:46:56 PM »
Bellamarie-
Quote
I can relate to Fanny even though you have not modernized her character to fit into today's world so to speak.

I disagree with that , I think that our 77 year old Fanny is perfect for this story.  She is not meant to be modern.  She is the matriarch of this four generational story.  I get that, for sure after just spending 5 weeks as the grand matriarch. ???
 
By not modernizing her I feel the bridge between them so much greater, her sadness and heaviness of heart to equal her years of worry. Now she frets over a genetic predisposition to Alzheimers disease, that her mother had acquired.  She worries about her daughter, her beautiful grand daughter and now the adorable little Rose.  She barricades herself in at night, fearing that she will be victimized by a robber.  
"Her husband couldn't protect her anymore.  For years, the warm, solid shape of him beside her in bed was security enough to sleep like a baby.  Not anymore."
Her world is changing and she is trying to adjust under difficult circumstances in the entire family.  She does not feel assured or certain and God knows we all need to feel grounded and sure footed.  Her concerns are enormous and genuine, making me want to hug her.
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #21 on: August 16, 2010, 09:23:00 PM »
Oh you are such a great group! I love these responses!

First, how did I capture Fanny? Well, as I mentioned I've been blessed to be surrounded by wonderful, giving, supportive, and very outspoken older women. I'm 56, so I'm not in Fanny's shoes, but it's not hard for me to imagine it. And ever since I was little, I was an observer, and still am, and I think most writers will tell you that. We see and intuit so much, and get ourselves into others heads, much as an actor does. And to me, the biggest compliment is to hear that a character is real. Thank you!

I will write more in the morning. Just spent a day babysitting for 2 toddlers and my baby granddaughter who's in a cast, so I am pooped! My life is similar to Claire's with lots of family responsibilities, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #22 on: August 17, 2010, 08:34:13 AM »
Let's talk about Rick! It seems unanimous that he's selfish and a bit inconsiderate, but that isn't so unusual for a man in his forties who's never married or had kids, and whose sole focus is himself. Were you ever with someone who makes you laugh, who makes life seem lighter and less serious? Who makes you forget about all of the burdens? This is why Claire originally fell for Rick.
And for a woman her age, they do say it's easier to win the lottery than to find a guy to settle down with. Claire thinks this is her last chance, she's been alone for 20 years, she likes being part of a couple, it offers her a different world. And she doesn't want to grow old alone.

In my small town there are several "Rick's" and it's been interesting to see the women fall all over them. Again, they are really nice guys, fun, but limited in what they can offer. But do they ever grow? Change? Hmmm, is that something possible for Rick? I guess we'll just have to see!

ginny

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2010, 08:55:36 AM »
What interested me about Rick was HER own lack of forthcoming with him. She's lucky to get him, I can see that she thinks that, anyway,  after 20 years, I loved your explanation and perspective on that, Maryann. She's so lucky that she couldn't tell him the circumstances of her life when they happened. Why? She put it off.

Because she is afraid she'd lose him? Who or what IS he, so far? I am actually not seeing any of the women communicating  the important things they are feeling or what they know with each other directly. Certainly not Amy!  I have boys, so I don't know the girl/ mother relationship, but Amy really seems angry. Why? Maybe we'll find out. Had it not been for  Fanny, the baby might have been adopted.

Andrea, and Pedln, I  have heard of such things, but never seen it. Thank you for that background also on how a person could be pregnant and nobody know.

I am still trying to figure Claire out but the overarching trait  all three women have in common is this .....refusal to share what's really important to them forthrightly.

Rick and his you get what you think you deserve: what a putz. Will he grow? hahahaa
Do we want him to?

 Meanwhile here's the Lodger who seems a lot more attractive, to me.

Do you all see Claire as strong, then? I think I am seeing something else.

ginny

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2010, 09:26:54 AM »
I meant, of course, to say THANK you Maryann for that explanation of how you found Fanny's inner voice.

Rick.  I am interested in the way he's presented here also. I don't think that's an accident, but what does it mean for the story? Would you all be interested in Rick, should he have come your way?

Super points, Maryann, I'm so glad you're here.

mrssherlock

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #25 on: August 17, 2010, 11:57:42 AM »
Rick's strength, his positive attitude, his success, his sexiness, yes, he would attract a woman who had spent her adult life as a single mother, even with the love and support of her parents.  Rick promises a life that is like an endless vacation and Claire wants, needs a rest.  She is seduced by the promise Rick's lifestyle implies.  He is the only person in her life who tempts her with indulgences she has only dreamt of.  Not a partnership but a subordinate position to the lord and master who gets to choose what the color of her cell will be, blinding her to the very real bars separating her from all her former entanglements.
Jackie
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #26 on: August 17, 2010, 12:07:26 PM »
You're right Ginny, all 3 women hold back, for different reasons.
Claire is overwhelmed, as we can see, and so she wonders if SHE'S overwhelmed, how is her fiancee going to react. Like a lot of women who are caretakers, she thinks maybe she can work things out a bit more, before unloading her baggage on him. But, shouldn't she be able to share EVERYTHING with him? Do women, even in marriage, share EVERYTHING? As for Claire, it's obvious knows Rick's limitations, and she's accepted them. But now, everything is changing, and she may have to make some tough decisions, for them both.

Amy is angry, yes. Adult children who've been pretty much abandoned by father's often exhibit anger, and it's often directed at the wrong person. I saw this personally with friends and relatives who lived with this. I also confirmed it with research. They also have commitment issues, as does Amy. As someone who's been so hurt by an absent parent, who considers herself a loser, it's only natural for Amy to think that she can't possibly be capable of mothering Rose. But of course she loves her already, and she's scared to death of screwing it up.

As for Fanny, she is full of pride, and that is what holds her back communicating the most important things to her husband. With Claire, she holds back out of fear of ruining Claire's future, and perhaps her own, if she tells her too much. She just wants to stay in her own home.

Isn't life complicated????

pedln

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #27 on: August 17, 2010, 12:12:04 PM »
I kind of feel like the devil’s advocate here, or maybe just marching to a different drummer. (But I may change my mind later on.)

Amy’s initial decision to put the baby up for adoption, considering the circumstances – was not out of line.  She felt that she would not be able to provide the kind of life her daughter should have.  I certainly understand Claire’s and Fanny and Joe’s thinking on this.  The baby is their grandchild, she’s family.  But is love clouding their “we can do this” thinking?  Fanny, who is already dependent in large measure on Claire, with a husband who has a disease that only gets progressively worse, who isn’t sure whether she will need more hip surgery or not.  And Claire, willing to put her life on hold for six months, but not willing to tell all to her fiance, planning to move across country in a year, and unwilling to tell her parents about that.  These folks have had to make a lot of tough decisions, and Claire certainly has had way too much dumped on her.  But I’m not sure that makes them admirable or likeable – yet.



MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #28 on: August 17, 2010, 12:21:22 PM »
Pedln,
You are very much right, they are flawed, and imperfect, and that's what makes them human. As for likeable, that's always tough, because it's like beauty, in the eye of the beholder. But I hope you'll let me know, when you get to the end of the book, how you feel about them then, ok?

And the title is an ironic one, in case you were wondering.

mabel1015j

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #29 on: August 17, 2010, 01:47:40 PM »
Enjoying the discussion..........marking my spot........jean

Finnabair

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #30 on: August 17, 2010, 05:27:00 PM »
I don't think Amy was thinking about not being able to provide for the baby.  She was thinking about herself and running away (again) from life when it got tough.

About Rick:
Page 22, Claire's thoughts, "But she usually steered clear of topics that might cause them to argue, telling herself it was a small difference of opinion when you considered all the things she loved about Rick."

What things, plural?  She likes sex with him.  I haven't found any other positive points about him at all.

Something positive:
I take care of a dear gentleman friend who is aging more rapidly than his 68 years.  He is estranged from his daughters, but I've been keeping them informed via email.  Last Sunday, he had a very bad night, and I was cleaning excrement from the bathroom floor at 3:00 AM Monday morning. 

After thinking about how the characters in the book don't *communicate* with each other,  I called his daughters on Monday.  They are very supportive.  We don't know how all this is going to develop, but I'm glad I called them.

Thank you, Maryann.
Drink more goat milk!

MaryannMcFadden

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #31 on: August 17, 2010, 08:30:14 PM »
Finnabair,

Anything that influences you in a positive way is my pleasure :)

This was a tough book to write, to me it's real, and doesn't gloss over the problems in a situation like this, or in families. And all we can hope in the end, is to learn from what we read, and to feel hope and perhaps something more.

I'm really looking forward to your reactions as the story continues!

Lucylibr

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #32 on: August 17, 2010, 10:44:14 PM »
I had the same reaction Pedln had: adoption is not a bad idea.  But today people are finding out that is not such a great solution, that family is forever, and that many adoptees will in time search for their birth parents.
When I was younger, the bonds of family were not emphasized as much and people didn't look all over for their roots. Now we see the importance of these ties. Whether Rose will ever be able to find her father is a good question; I hope there is some resolution.

I am enjoying the book.  I am 72 and have no children, and do not in the least miss what I have never had. 

Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #33 on: August 17, 2010, 11:02:55 PM »
Well, naturally we don't like Chris.  He seems like a handsome cave man!  But the sex is great so Claire will compromise herself due to her fear of this being her last time to find anyone???   She is too young to be thinking like that but maybe its the "small town" effect? Living in a world where everyone knows what you do and don't do before you do.   Could be.  She needs a lot of shoring up, that's for sure.

And John Poole is the mysterious stranger who is kind of rude but he did apologize.  And he offered her a job of photographing an article that he's doing on the old dried canal. 

Maryann, I love your description of the natural world as Mary Ann tries to do her best while working for this stranger.

Thank goodness, Grandma,  carried the day when it came to adoption for a beautiful little baby girl whose name is now Rose.  Wasn't that Fanny's mother's name??
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

Lucylibr

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #34 on: August 17, 2010, 11:59:56 PM »
I have been meaning to ask if anyone has heard of the series now showing on TLC, "I did'nt know I was pregnant"?  I think it may also be on Discovery.

bellamarie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #35 on: August 18, 2010, 01:01:18 AM »
Alf...
Quote
I disagree with that , I think that our 77 year old Fanny is perfect for this story.  She is not meant to be modern.  She is the matriarch of this four generational story.  I get that, for sure after just spending 5 weeks as the grand matriarch.  

 
You may have misunderstood my post because I completely agree with you and thought I was saying as much.  Grrr....somehow it got lost in translation.  lol

Maryann, As much as I sense Rick is a bit selfish, I can appreciate the qualities Claire sees in him at her age.  I just sense they won't make it down the aisle.  He is set in his ways and it seems Claire was the perfect match for him before all the walls came tumbling down around their well layed out relationship.  Riding off into the sunset for golf and painting in Arizona does not seem to be in the cards for these two.  I am from a small rural town and married my city guy and love living a bit away from my complicated family, although I was close enough to drive thirty miles to visit and care for my Mom as her health failed her and she needed special care.  Claire could in no way leave her family to be so far in distance with all that is happening.  

Maryann, I feel you have truly captured and related each character's personality for the reader to immediately care for each of them.  I find myself early on wanting only the best for all of them.  All the descriptions you shared with us of the charaters here is what I was seeing in just reading the first few chapters.  Indeed life is complicated, but there has to be a hero in each famly and I see Fanny, Joe, and Claire stepping up to the plate.  I so agree with you on the affects of the absence of a father in a child's life.  I am seeing the anger in my eight yr. old step grandson.  A child never understands how or why a father can just leave and not be a part of their life, and the mother usually is their target for all their anger because the father is not there.

Ciao for now...

 
"Sometimes books don't find us until the right time." quote Amelia says to A.J.,  from the book A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

ginny

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #36 on: August 18, 2010, 09:07:20 AM »
What fascinating posts!

Finnabar, I thought about this all day:


Quote
I don't think Amy was thinking about not being able to provide for the baby.  She was thinking about herself and running away (again) from life when it got tough.

And then I thought about Maryann's let's talk about Rick:  
Quote
It seems unanimous that he's selfish and a bit inconsiderate, but that isn't so unusual for a man in his forties who's never married or had kids, and whose sole focus is himself.


I believe I've gotten Rick wrong. I need to understand the bit about, "you don't get what you deserve, you get what you think you deserve." I can't understand that statement. I keep thinking about it. What is he saying?

Is he saying that you can control your life and destiny? If so, Mrssherlock,  you might have something with your
Quote
Rick promises a life that is like an endless vacation and Claire wants, needs a rest.



I am not sure life with Rick would be an endless vacation, what happens when something bad happens to good people? He's a tad immature, I see him driven by ego and fear, but then again they all are.

Are WE?  He's in control, he can WILL the bad events of life away simply by his reaction to them, rising above, toughing it out. I need to know more about him. I've not read beyond 12 as I want to experience the book with you all as one giant brain. So far "his way," (Frank Sinatra song) seems to involve just that: no family, no life encumbrances, just we'll do this and that and we'll do it my way.

Maryann:


Quote
As for Fanny, she is full of pride, and that is what holds her back communicating the most important things to her husband....She just wants to stay in her own home.


I am seeing fear in Fanny beyond her relationship with Claire. I see fear of the frailty of old age and not being able to do what she wants and needs to do. Yet she tries to rally, despite being in pain, she tries to plan to take driving lessons, that's a huge step at her age. HUGE. She's afraid, Claire is breathtakingly afraid she'll miss her chance. She wants this chance, she's tried the other.

And she like everybody else and everybody in the story, wants control. They all want, (who does not) control over their lives, they just set about getting it in different ways, motivated by different things, or so I think. Fanny is desperate, living each day despite the pain, in fear of "IT." This is what I mean by the incredible job of getting inside the head of a 70 year old, super super writing here.

Pedln and Lucy (welcome, Lucy!!) I don't think Amy's primary motivation is doing the best for her baby but rather to be free of it.  I agree with Finnabar here. In her case it's the best decision, for sure.  This is a good point, Pedln
:
Quote
But is love clouding their “we can do this” thinking?  Fanny, who is already dependent in large measure on Claire, with a husband who has a disease that only gets progressively worse, who isn’t sure whether she will need more hip surgery or not.

That, right there, is what I was trying to say about Maryann's capturing the sense of being 70 for lack of a better term. The spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, the fight against age and disability. I think that's why I relate to Fanny the most now, rather than Claire, whom I am in sympathy with.

She's not entirely reactive as I thought initially.  She does do some proactive things when life happens to her. She can't help wanting a life, or a life as she knows it.

Bellamarie, I sure hope they don't make it to the altar. I wonder which one has the most growing up to do of this group. Besides the baby of course.  This of course, is the rub:
Quote
Claire could in no way leave her family to be so far in distance with all that is happening.


One wonders what Rick's solution would be. I guess we're about to find out!

Oh and the title is ironic, thank you for that Maryann. So HAPPY Together.

Which ones, I wonder?

 I keep thinking of the song, how does it go, "I can't see me loving nobody but you, for all my life.." I'll go look it up, maybe there will be some clues. It's sort of about "me and you, " tho. (I didn't remember it being so ungrammatical hahahaa).

Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice it has to beee
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together...

Something like that.  Who sang that?  That could be Rick's song. Note who is first: me.

Gosh now I can't get it out of my head. Just me and you,  none of these other encumbrances...is he an orphan?

I really am enjoying the book, the issues which are serious it raises,  and the discussion.

Annie

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #37 on: August 18, 2010, 09:35:51 AM »
Is this what we call "a dysfunctional family"?   As Ginny says they are just more reactive than proactive.  And we are all dysfunctional in one way or another.  Just being human makes us so.  

Ginny, I hope you come up with at song before we all waste the day trying to recollect the title or the words.  Is it "It Had To Be You" is it???  Well here's a list of love songs, see if you can find yours:

http://www.theromantic.com/lovesongs/main.htm


And here's "Happy Together" lyrics???  Which has a lot of me and you, you and me in it:
By the Turtles:  http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=happy+together+turtles&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

This is a search page and you have to click on the first offering to hear the song.
"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth." Robert Southey

ALF43

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #38 on: August 18, 2010, 10:33:39 AM »
Quote
Amy is angry, yes. Adult children who've been pretty much abandoned by father's often exhibit anger, and it's often directed at the wrong person. I saw this personally with friends and relatives who lived with this. I also confirmed it with research.

AMEN!!!!  I can testify to that Maryann.  My children were abandoned by their father at a very young age.  Raising them alone for 12 years,  I tried very hard to keep everything on an even keel,  giving them as much love and security as I was able to in his absence and yet, my 43 year old daughter has never come to grips with the loss of her father.  
She is her own worst enemy, establishing relationships, breaking them off, etc.  I could write a book myself on how I've dealt with that fact alone.  She is very insecure so she comes across with excessive bravado.
Why the other two came out secure, comfortable with themselves and others, particularly in their marriages, I can not guess.   ???

Annie- my kids used to tell all of their friends that we were a dysfunctional family and it irritated the hell out me!  Now that they are adults, out here in the real world, they have had a change of heart.  During our 5 weeks together with all of the kids/families recently we had this very "dysfunctional" discussion.
Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.  ~James Russell Lowell

mrssherlock

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Re: So Happy Together ~ with Author Maryann McFadden ~ August 15
« Reply #39 on: August 18, 2010, 10:49:12 AM »
Ginny:  You have absolutely nailed Rick with your "Me and You" reference.  When my daughter was a toddler she made one word of this, pairing herself with her three-year senior sib:  "Me-and-Willie".  She could not perceive herself as an entity.  OK, maybe, for a preschooler but dangerous in an adult.
Jackie
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke