Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reclaiming Cape Hope

Heather McGrail's Clary of Cape May is a good book. Heather McGrail may not think so.

As Heather pointed out in her last post, she published the book about a year ago on Amazon. She recently returned to Cape May with her boyfriend and succumbed to what all of us authors will bloody our knuckles to fend off: Doubts.

Nevermind. Clary of Cape May is a good book, because not only did I read it, but I also reviewed it.  'Clary' is a love story that is told through a Christian-themed girl meets boy, girl loses contact with boy, girl searches for boy over years of trying faith and... Well, you have to read the story if you want to know what happens -- and how it happens. I enjoyed reviewing the book. I made lots of suggestions; some even saw the light of day.

Did the author need me to review the book? Nope. The book, in it's last draft, was already better than most books out there.

Sure, the story (as explained to me) was never supposed to be an instant classic, but a simple love story with the backdrop of the author's fond memories of her family visits to Cape May. However, the story was more intellectually and creatively inspired than that. 'Clary' is a parody of Jane Austen and her typically larger-than-life Jane Austen events and her all-too-perfectly happy Jane Austen endings. Even so, I absorbed the story without needing to remind myself of the scholarly aspects of it. I felt the golden grains of sand below my feet on the sun-baked boardwalk. I cringed at every put down Clary's mother and sister lodged at her. I shook my head at each of their stone-faced, apathetic response to Clary's suffering. I escaped along with Clary with each bike ride into town, even when a terrible storm was brewing, in search of an search of her true love. I smelled the sea, the broiling hot dogs; I tasted both the wine and the worry. I was so interested in the Victorian homes as the author described that I even searched Cape May and found pictures of them.

I'd like to visit Cape May.

I never doubted Clary and I were wandering an East Coast village of posh vacation homes and working class boardwalks, fine wineries and yellowed postcards bent and stuffed inside a musky, seaside shop. I was with Clary the whole time, every "was that him?" peripheral glint and every drop of the stomach. Even deeper...

Clary felt normal to me; so very human. Yet, she was special, too. I will not divulge any further on that point except to say that Clary is a very c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y constructed character. Her scenes with her supportive, yet oft' silent (or...silenced?) father will reveal the true depth of Clary's many layers. Sometimes, the one worded responses...the moments of silence between father and daughter as they sit on the back porch overlooking the all that needs to be said.

I never doubted Clary's faith in finding her true love.

Clary of Cape May may be an simple story, but it is a fine love story with believable, atmospheric description and powerful angst. Simple stories can be good stories. So, are we to believe the success of Clary of Cape May will be measured by how many 'Clarys' sell? Shouldn't be that way. When an author starts to wonder why her family and friends have said little about her book --or forget that it even exists -- and as a result, she starts to question her own talent, her already-proven natural abilities to draw out detail, and even start to question her own memory of a very special setting; well, then we authors should know that we allow marketability to measure and quantify things that it simply should not and cannot do.

Disillusionment might have been the result of this book's cash value. A loss of personal faith, too. Yet, not from us Forgers. We never lost faith in author Heather McGrail's abilities to make illusions come to life. We never lost faith in author Heather McGrail. Neither should Christian Author and Creative Writing Professor Heather McGrail, M.F.A..

Heather's Cape May is real to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment