I’m sitting in the shade of a Garry oak tree with a group of other parental units, as our children call us these days. Clare, the grandmother of one of my son’s friends, (one of those fresh-faced grandmothers who look five years younger than I do), looks up from her book and turns to me.
“I’ve been meaning to say how much I enjoyed The Find…” she says, “and actually, it’s because of your book that I’m going in for surgery next week.”
How come? In any case, no! I’m thinking. Surgery? Please, don’t… She must have seen my jaw drop.
“I don’t mean that, exactly,” she says, looping her hair behind her ears. “Well, I’ve had this thing going on with a man ten years younger than me. It’s lasted for years – hit and run, no demands. Though he’s a nice guy. Very nice: I’ve gained weight these last few years, and when it began, he said: “I don’t know how I’ll handle this, Clare. I’ve never been out with a fat girl before.” But after a while, he said, “It’s okay, I love you, you can be as fat as you want.” And from the start he’s always wanted it to progress into something more… but I always say no, it works this way… And then I read your book. And it happens I have this surgery needs that doing, and then I’ll need a few weeks recuperating, and I suddenly thought, Okay, Clare, this is it. So I asked him: May I come stay with you and you feed me soup while I convalesce? And he said, of course, I’d love that…. So that’s where I’ll be next week. It’s all your fault!” She breaks into a smile, manages, somehow, to look seventeen.
I tell Clare about another reader in her sixties and very partial to younger men, who was deeply disappointed by the way the way things fall out between Scott and Anna. She wanted ever after. “And on top of that, I think you punished her for having him!” she said, glaring at me as if I had done something truly terrible, not just told a story she wanted otherwise.
“Oh, no.” Clare says, serious now. “Anna went as far as she could. A huge distance… Way out there. I wouldn’t have believed it any other way.” And as she speaks, I realize that this character, once mine alone, is now alive and resident in someone else’s mind. She’s moved out, lives elsewhere. It’s the most amazing feeling, and snaps me right out of my neurotic broodings over the snippy bits in the otherwise good review in the Globe I read earlier in the day: http://m.theglobeandmail.com/books/review-the-find-by-kathy-page/article1640087/?service=mobile