Whose Life Is It Anyway? Three Biographical Fictions

LADY CLEMENTINE by Marie Benedict. 

In 1909 Lady Clementine Churchill grabbed her new husband, Winston, by his jacket and saved him from the would-be assassin who was about to push him into the path of an oncoming train. It was only the first of many times that she would save Winston Churchill, most frequently, from himself.  This is the story of an intelligent, politically astute and ambitious woman, who, despite being compelled by the attitudes of the times to remain, ostensibly, in the background, managed to influence Churchill’s ideas, attitudes and actions in ways that shaped twentieth century history. In this fictionalized first-person account, we hear Clemmie’s distinctive voice as she caters to Churchill’s every need without ever allowing him to lose sight of her vital role in his success.   


Today, Loie Fuller is a largely forgotten figure, but in 1900s Paris she was a dazzling part of the new century’s creative burst of energy and light.  Fuller, considered a pioneer of modern dance was particularly known for her innovative use of theatrical effects.  Not surprisingly, she was drawn to Marie Curie, whose discovery of radium, with its glowing blue light, seemed tailor made for use in her performances.  As Heinecke tells us in this carefully researched work of historical fiction, Loie Fuller’s dream of using radium in her performances was never realized, but she and Marie Curie became lifelong friends whose mutual fascination with that element powered a shared delight in discovery across the boundaries of art and science. 

THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McLain. 

Could Hemingway have written a more heartbreaking line than this:  that in the end, he would “rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.”  In THE PARIS WIFE Paula McLain imagines that first love between Hadley Richardson, a 28-year-old who believes that love may have passed her by, and an even younger Ernest Hemingway, still struggling to find himself as a writer and a man.  Shortly after marrying, the Hemingways head for the whirlwind that is Paris in the 1920s.  Neither Hadley nor Ernest is prepared for the hedonistic life of the lost generation and while Ernest struggles to become a successful author, Hadley tries to hold on to her sense of self as she is challenged to be wife and muse, as well as mother to their child.  In the end, the love they have for each other simply isn’t enough to survive the betrayals that wreak havoc on their marriage.

-Marilyn B.


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