Last week I had the good fortune of meeting with a dozen women who are the book club for DKG, Delta Kappa Gamma, a group of retired teachers. They had all read my novel, The Art of Love and were primed with wine and snacks to talk with me about my books, about my writing process, favorite authors and my current works in progress. It was an energizing evening for me.
I enjoy it when my stories spark a discussion. Agree with me or not, if I can move my readers to think, to consider their lives and other issues that is good. Last week’s conversation with the women from DKG dug deeply into a variety of topics. For an hour and a half we engaged in a discussion of love and heart-break, of morality, religion, and relationships.
The Art of Love considers several relationships. At the center of the story is the relationship of two conflicted college grad students, Patrick an immensely talented art student and Mary, a brilliant French major. Patrick comes from a non-communicative suffocating home on the rural coast of Maine. His parents are both rooted in academia. Mary comes from a strict Catholic home in New York City where her working-class parents demand perfection. They meet in Providence, Rhode Island where Mary is a grad student at Ivy League Brown University and Patrick is studying a block away on the counter-culture campus of the Rhode Island School of Design. The contrast between the cultures of those two neighboring colleges typifies Patrick and Mary’s differences.
Patrick and Mary have nothing in common except a natural chemistry that leads to love. Their repressive upbringings leave them unsure of how to proceed with their relationship. They are torn between their natural desires and the pressures they feel from their families, from their friends and from their mentors. Reviewing their struggles provoked the discussion among the DKG women. Yes, The Art of Love is just a story. It’s fiction, something I made up. But if my readers are moved by my story, if their views of the world are influenced by my writing and by sharing viewpoints with their friends I am happy. Like Patrick and Mary we are always evolving with our philosophies of life and how to live.
Peter Stipe is the author of Finding Our Way; a collection of short stories, and The Art of Love, a novel. Peter Stipe.com Facebook: PeterGStipe