Related to: 'Legacy of Silence'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Hodder & Stoughton

After the Fire

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

The Sight of the Stars

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Crossroads

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Looking Back

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

They are the most unlikely friends: rich, kind, Cecile; brave, talented Norma; and Amanda, the poor girl they met at college. Now Cecile has married her talented architect, Amanda has married Norma's brother and Norma has found a niche with her work as a teacher and her beloved music.But behind the façade of happiness and friendship lie secrets that threaten to tear the three friends apart. There will be the sorrow of one who wants a child and cannot have one; another has a child she does not want. As the three women's secrets and desires converge, there will be scandal, heartbreak - and the crime which will bring both justice and an unexpected happiness to three families . . .

Hodder & Stoughton

Her Father's House

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

Donald and Lillian were never a match made in heaven, but they have a child, Tina, and she is the love of Donald's heart.For her he would give up everything: his home, his work and even his freedom. When his marriage fails, he does just that.A chance meeting with a stranger on a train changes his life - and his daughter's - in ways he could never have imagined.From her earliest years Tina is exceptional, a brilliant student and a joyous person with a loving spirit. At university she falls in love with Gilbert who, three years older than she, graduates from law school just as she is about to enter medical school. Together they go to New York, where they learn a truth about Donald that shatters Tina's regard for the father who has for so long protected and cherished her.When a terrible lie has been told for love, can it be forgiven?

Hodder & Stoughton

Fortune's Hand

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Homecoming

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

With unerring insight and emotional power, Belva Plain, in her extraordinary novel, tells the story of a family divided and of the proud matriarch who takes a bold last stand to unite her warring children in what may be their last Homecoming.It is a crisp December day when Annette Byrne walks to the end of her long, curving driveway and drops five sealed envelopes into the mailbox, quickly, before second thoughts stay her hand. Shortly thereafter, with the holidays approaching, her estranged family will be gathered at her country estate for the first time in years.The sons. . . two brothers embittered by a breach of ethics, honor, and trust. The grandchildren. . . one young couple on the verge of divorce; another, lovingly united against the parents who have tarnished their lives. As the ill-fated meeting hurtles toward a bitter and abrupt conclusion, not even Annette Byrne's indomitable will can heal the rift--until a shattering event alters the landscape forever.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Carousel

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

In public, Oliver Grey is a devoted father, prominent public figure and respected businessman. But in private, he has a much darker side.On a visit to her brother Dan's house, Oliver's niece Amanda sees a silver carousel much like the one her uncle gave her as a child. When Amanda breaks down and reveals a troubling link between her niece Caroline, her uncle Oliver and the silver carousel, events take a dangerous turn. Horrified by the revelations, Dan's wife Ellen visits Oliver's home to confront him. And when she leaves, Oliver is dead.But with one son mired in gambling debts and a desperately troubled niece, finding the person behind Oliver's death might not be as simple as it seems.

Hodder & Stoughton

Secrecy

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

First came the sin. Then the lies.He was handsome, charming, irresistable, and an eighteen-year-old lady-killer, her uncle Cliff's stepson, Ted. But in one terrible night he would shatter the life of fourteen-year-old Charlotte Dawes and nearly destroy her family. Years afterward, Charlotte would remember that night with fear and loathing, with pain that could be banished only by her work as a gifted architect, building a new world for others as she conceals her own.For Charlotte's family, prime employers in New England mill town, what happened to Charlotte was the beginning of the end. Her father is left shattered by his daughter's pain. Her troubled mother is unable to cope. And her distinguished family has fallen from grace, plunged into debt. The only rock that sustains them in their darkest hours is a woman whose own guilty secret has given her the power to ruin--or resurrect--the family to whom she owes her life.Belva Plain's searing novel cuts to the heart of a family ravaged by secrecy. But it is ultimately a story of redemption, the kind that grows when one person dares to tell the truth.

Hodder & Stoughton

Promises

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

With three children, a beautiful home and her loving husband Adam, Margaret Crane is a woman many would envy. When Adam begins working late at the office, Margaret is sure it's just the rumoured takeover of his company - until she meets Randi, the other woman.As the life Margaret knows comes crashing down, her adopted daughter Nina revels in New York. Nina is sure she's found Mr. Right in Keith, a brilliant investment banker. But Keith has a secret he hasn't told Nina.As Nina clings to stolen weekends with Keith and Margaret plays the dutiful wife, a rift develops between the two women. Keith is not welcome in Margaret's home. And Nina herself is the other woman...

Hodder & Stoughton

Daybreak

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

Laura and 'Bud' Rice share an elegant home and two children; brilliant, handsome Tom and cherished, chronically ill Timmy. But after nineteen years of marriage, Laura's respectable husband is a stranger - and the reason behind Tom's escalating involvement with a group of campus bigots. Suddenly the Crawfields enter their lives and shatter the Rice's fragile world. As their quiet Southern town explodes with hate and violence, the two families must embrace the shattering truth, or risk being destroyed by it.

Hodder & Stoughton

Evergreen

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Random Winds

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

From a quiet turn-of-the-century village in upstate New York to war-torn London, from the bedsides of the rural poor to the life-and-death urgency of a New York hospital, comes a powerful epic of three generations of doctors in one family. The Farrell family are dedicated, brilliant... and driven to the edge of destruction by a love no force can suppress.

Adrian Plass

Adrian Plass is one of the most-loved Christian writers in the UK. He is the bestselling author of The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ - which with its various sequels has sold millions of copies around the world. A somewhat bemused Anglican, Adrian and his wife Bridget live in the north of England travel widely to speak in churches, prisons, schools, and at festivals and literary events in the UK and around the world.

Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's first novel, Ingenious Pain, was published by Sceptre in 1997 and greeted as the debut of an outstanding new writer. It won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for the best foreign novel published in Italy.It has been followed by Casanova, Oxygen, which was shortlisted for the both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award in 2001, The Optimists, One Morning Like A Bird, Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year Award 2011, and The Crossing.Andrew Miller's novels have been published in translation in twenty countries. Born in Bristol in 1960, he has lived in Spain, Japan, France and Ireland, and currently lives in Somerset.

Anna Jacobs

Anna Jacobs grew up in Lancashire and emigrated to Australia, but still visits the UK regularly to see her family and do research, something she loves. She is addicted to writing and figures she'll have to live to be 120 at least to tell all the stories that keep popping up in her imagination and nagging her to write them down.She's also addicted to her own hero, to whom she's been happily married for many years.She is the bestselling author of over sixty novels and has been shortlisted for several awards. Pride of Lancashire won the Australian Romantic Book of the Year Award in 2006, and The Trader's Wife is on the shortlist for the 2012 award. You can find out more on her website, www.annajacobs.com or on her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/Anna.Jacobs.Books.

Benedict Wells

Benedict Wells was born in 1984 in Munich. At the age of six, he started his journey through three Bavarian boarding schools. Upon graduating school in 2003, he moved to Berlin, where he decided against an academic education and instead started to dedicate his time to writing. In 2016 he won the European Union Prize for Literature for his third novel, The End of Loneliness, which has been in the German bestseller list for over a year. After years of living in Barcelona, Wells has recently returned to Berlin.

Chris Ryan

Former SAS corporal and the only man to escape death or capture during the Bravo Two Zero operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Chris Ryan turned to writing thrillers to tell the stories the Official Secrets Act stops him putting in his non-fiction. His novels have gone on to inspire the Sky One series Strike Back. Born near Newcastle in 1961, Chris Ryan joined the SAS in 1984. During his ten years there he was involved in overt and covert operations and was also sniper team commander of the anti-terrorist team. During the Gulf War, Chris Ryan was the only member of an eight-man unit to escape from Iraq, where three colleagues were killed and four captured. It was the longest escape and evasion in the history of the SAS. For this he was awarded the Military Medal. He wrote about his experiences in the bestseller The One That Got Away, which was adapted for screen, and since then has written three other works of non-fiction, over twenty bestselling novels and a series of childrens' books.

Eleanor O’Reilly

Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies who is currently working towards an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Having first started writing four years ago, she has received several literary prizes, including the 2015 RTE Francis McManus Radio Short Story Award and the 2013 William Trevor International Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the 2016 Colm Toibin Literary Award. She lives in Ireland with her husband, her daughter, and their Great Dane Spartacus. M for Mammy is her debut novel.

Erin Kelly

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters. www.erinkelly.co.ukwww.twitter.com/mserinkelly