This novel, intended to be called SO HELP ME, GOD is a companion volume
to THE WHOLE TRUTH and AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. BE MY LOVE is a
much better title because it is a teenaged love story, and therefore
suitable for slightly older readers than my other books - about grade
six and up. Readers of the first two books will recognize many characters
from them. The new novel, however, is set thirteen years later in
1951, when Polly and Maud are adults. Unlike the first two books,
which should be read in order, the third book can be read independently.
The main character
of BE MY LOVE is 14-year-old Maisie, the daughter of Gregor and Sadie.
At the beginning of the novel she is looking forward to returning
to Kingfisher Island, where she spends every summer with her beloved
grandparents. Most of all she is eager to see Una, Maud’s daughter,
who is only a few months older. Maisie and Una, who are distant cousins,
have always been best friends.
This summer, however,
Maisie is shocked to discover that Una has suddenly turned into a
glamorous teenager, whereas she, Maisie, has never been interested
in girly things. When a boy called David arrives on the island and
Una falls in love with him, Maisie is disturbed and confused about
how jealous she is. After she does something terrible that could jeopardize
their friendship forever, she begins to realize that she is in love
with Una herself.
problem is her father, Gregor, who has returned from World War II
in a deep depression which has recently resulted in a complete breakdown.
When Maisie’s parents arrive on the island she has to cope with her
father’s anguish as well as her own.
I have always wanted to write about a girl who realizes
she is a lesbian. When I was a teenager in the mid-sixties, I barely
realized that I was attracted to girls, and there were no role models
or books to reassure me. Maisie, who is not me, is much more aware
of her feelings than I was; but 1951 was an even more repressed time.
Homosexuality was illegal for men and, for women, being a lesbian
(a word which wasn’t even used until later) was seen as being abnormal.
Men like Gregor
who were psychologically affected by World War II were described as
having “battle fatigue”. My father fought in the second war; for years
he had nightmares about it, and his best friend once told me that
it completely changed his personality. Although he was less severely
affected than Gregor, his experience gave me the idea to have Maisie’s
father come back from the war a different man.
It was a huge
pleasure to once again set this story on “Kingfisher Island” - really
Mayne Island with a few geographical changes. My partner Katherine
and I had a house there for many years, which we sold in 2017. Writing
about this beautiful place made me feel as if we still had a foothold