Sunday 12 March 2017

The Little Theatre by the Sea by Rosanna Ley

Published by Quercus on March 9, 2017

Family Relationships

Family relationships – what a minefield… But they are also endlessly fascinating, I find.

So, we may as well start with marital problems. In Little Theatre by the Sea I wanted to explore different ways in which a couple’s problems might impact - not just on the husband and wife themselves - but also on their daughter. Let’s face it, marriage problems always affect other members of the family too.

In the book, Ade and Molly have been married for thirty-six years. They have great affection for one another and are united by their love for their daughter Faye, but over the years they have lost that elusive spark of physical attraction and have become interested in different things. Their marriage has got a bit ‘tired’. Gradually, they have begun to lead separate lives.

This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. Faye is grown up and has her own life to lead. Ade and Molly get on well enough. But what if one of them starts wanting something different? What if there’s a catalyst that makes them look at their family lives, their marriage with fresh eyes?

The catalyst for change for Ade and Molly comes when Ade is offered early retirement. He is only in his mid-fifties and he wants to fulfil his dream – to travel around the world. What’s wrong with that? He has no real responsibilities. He can afford it. The question is, will Molly want to go with him?

One of my themes in Little Theatre by the Sea is ‘pretence’ or ‘unmasking’. Well, it is about the transformation of a theatre, after all. In the theatre, we know that we are being told a (usually fictional) story and that the actors are acting i.e. pretending to be someone else for the purposes of the play. Course we do. But in real life it’s harder to tell the difference. And in case you’re wondering, I definitely use fictional characters but I like to write about ‘real life’…

So, in real life, we often wear a mask of our own making which becomes part of our self-image and dictates how we relate to others. That’s what I wanted to explore in the book. Why do we wear a mask? Why do we bother to pretend? Maybe it’s a case of fantasy and self-deception, or maybe it’s because of the secrets we keep. We might keep secrets to protect our families from the truth because we don’t want the people we love to get hurt. We might keep secrets because we are ashamed of our behaviour in the past. Or we might keep secrets simply because we feel unable to be honest with one another. Maybe we don’t have enough trust in someone to tell them the truth?

It turns out that Molly and Ade have both kept secrets from one another for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. They have also both kept secrets from other members of their family too. And when the first secret comes out in the open the crack in their relationship begins to deepen.

But maybe good can come from bad? After all, when a relationship is under threat is when we start thinking about it…

In Little Theatre by the Sea we don’t find out until the end of the book whether Ade and Molly can sort out their differences and make a go of it. But in the meantime, their daughter Faye has to deal with her own feelings on the matter of her parents’ marriage. She thought they were happy and now they’re breaking up. What’s going on? She feels cheated – as if she is the one who has been betrayed. She feels angry – they are her parents and they should be together. And she feels disillusioned about love.

In families, we all have a different role to play – sometimes several throughout our lifetime. I have been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a step-mother, an aunt and now a grandmother too. Each role requires something different of us. Sometimes we are demanding, sometimes we are protective, sometimes our expectations are simply too high.

In the novel, I wanted Ade, Molly and Faye to appreciate that although they are all part of a family, they are individuals too. I wanted them to learn that honesty is key to self-discovery and understanding. This is the journey that the three characters from my family go on in Little Theatre by the Sea.

1 comment:

  1. SO true...why do we wear a mask and bother to pretend? Love the idea of a novel that explores that theme, especially set in Sardinia....what's not to like?! x


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