Today I welcome Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of A Wedding in Great Neck (and several other novels). As a mother herself, and author of several children’s books I invited Yona to visit today and talk a bit about motherhood
I feel that my role as a mother is central to my experience of being of writer; being a mother gave me a whole new way to explore the connections between people and added a complexity and depth to my fiction.
In my newest novel, A Wedding in Great Neck, motherhood is explored from several different vantage points. Gretchen, the sister of the bride, Angelica, has to face that Justine, one of her teen-aged twin daughters, is in serious emotional trouble. Betsy, the mother of the bride, reflects on her not entirely satisfactory relationship with her beautiful, accomplished daughter and hopes that her daughter’s marriage will bring them closer. Lenore, who is both Betsy’s mother and Angelica’s grandmother, sees her own role in the family as active and engaged—she cares about her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter too and she insists on trying to “fix” the problems that she sees.
Each of these characters grapples with her role as a mother, and each one interprets that role in a somewhat different way. Playing with these diverse views was so interesting to me as a writer. Even though my own children are older now—21 and 17—I still feel like being their mother is one of the defining experiences of my life and wanted to explore that through my fiction.
When my children were younger, they found their way—in composite form only!—into my fiction. I’d write scenes of a mom nursing a baby or trying to deal with a tantrum that were based on my own experience.
Now, that my children are older, I find myself addressing the issues centered on their burgeoning independence and moving away; that’s where Betsy and Angelica from Wedding came in. Children need to grow up and separate from their parents; it’s the natural order of things. But we as mothers remain connected forever; separation from our children is learned, not reflexive or innate. I find these issues can be explored with all the complexity and subtlety they deserve in fiction.
A Wedding in Great Neck synopsis from Goodreads: The Silverstein family is coming together in Great Neck, Long Island, for the nuptials of the youngest daughter. Always considered the favorite—and the object of much envy and resentment—Angelica has planned a fairy tale wedding to her fiancé, a former fighter pilot. But there are storm clouds on the horizon.
Gretchen, Angelica’s sister, is dealing with a failed marriage and her moody teenage daughter Justine. One brother is a callous businessman while the other is struggling with his search for love and a career. Her mother is in a battle of wills with the wedding planner, while her father, a recovering alcoholic, struggles to confront his ex-wife’s lavish new life in the Long Island manor of her dreams. And her grandmother Lenore has decided it’s high time to take charge and set her grandchildren on their proper paths.
Then an impulsive act by Justine puts the entire wedding at risk and brings the simmering family tensions to the boiling point. Before vows are exchanged, this day will change more than one life forever…
My thoughts (so far): I’m still reading the opening chapters of this one but I can see why it is so highly regarded on Goodreads (avg 4 stars). Weddings are a crazy time, the bride wants everything to be perfect, add in your dysfunctional family and BAM! Things are going to happen. I’m looking forward to seeing where this story takes me and am forever grateful that I don’t have to be involved in another wedding for a VERY LONG time.
© 2012, Teresa. All rights reserved.