Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Readers say...(on Amazon)

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book Therapy. We all Need It., September 24, 2010

By chefchick - See all my reviews

This review is from: Therapy: A Novel (Paperback)

A good read always makes me feel better. "Therapy - A Novel" made me feel good. I've never been a fan of therapy or therapists. I've really only been to therapy once, during my divorce. The therapy here, in the novel, consists mainly of stories from Barbara's life; her childhood, married life and motherhood experiences.

Somehow I think I gleaned a little therapy for myself in reading Barbara's story. Her voice, and the very vivid memories she has of her family, and her experiences as a young woman and mother, were so well-written, touching, funny, and for me, so relatable.

I enjoyed this book because it surprised me too. It held no cliches.
I read a great deal and many times I can predict what will happen in a novel. But Barbara's life, like my own, is totally unpredictable. The best part, rather than merely soul-searching, or going on some stupid eat pray love roadtrip, and accepting the lousy slump of her life, (like I think most people, especially women are expected to do), she makes drastic changes, grabs life by the balls, and finds more happiness.

This is not a self-help book, I never read that crap.

I get my therapy from unexpected sources, great song lyrics, a special sunrise, something sweet my kids say, like a pill in jelly, this book.

Readers say... (on Amazon)

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, September 28, 2010

By Janice Schuster - See all my reviews

This review is from: Therapy: A Novel (Paperback)

I found it hard to put this book down and stayed up too late one night to finish it. It is well written and the characters are highly interesting, especially the main character, Barbara. The book captures Barbara's feelings and her relationships with everyone and brings home the fact that being accomplished and well thought of does not necessarily make one happy. The dialogue is real and captures conversations that I'm sure frequently do happen between therapists and their clients. Harrie Rose is a talented writer who really should write more fiction. She captures and conveys settings (New England), plots, and characters with ease and draws the reader in to the story very quickly.

Readers say... (on Amazon)

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book, October 18, 2010

By J. L. Knox "Musical Chairs" (USA) -

I read this book after reading Franzen's Freedom, and I was thankful for this timing. I enjoyed Franzen's book, and it was definitely a different, more all-encompassing (macro) structure, but the circumstantial similarities between the books are there. As I read Therapy, I was exposed to a character who, like Franzen's protagonist (Patty), has endured abuse and suffered mental upset. Franzen’s Patty, like Rose’s Barbara, is retracing her tale through the lens of personal psychological discovery; unlike Franzen's book, however, this novel is centered on Barbara's plight alone so we get to zoom in on her life, listen to her thoughts in a more in-depth way. Moreover, Barbara is believable. She's three-dimensional; she's self-sufficient; she's confused and yet not helpless; she's not merely looking for someone to rescue her or define her life. Instead, she is searching for her identity and the root of her pain, searching to define her own standards in a relationship, and yet she's doing so in what is actually a far more self-realizing decade than that of many coming-of-age novels/memoirs.

This book is important in that it breaks apart many common dilemmas men and women face in self-realization, and yet it does so without being overly sentimental or preachy. It also investigates the multi-faceted (and very personal, in this case) relationship between a psychologist and patient. It offers insight into what can happen when we rely too much on external forces to fight an internal battle. Perhaps most important, the book is well-written and moves seamlessly. I recommend it to anyone who's the least bit interested in psychology.

Friday, October 8, 2010

An Excerpt from my Novel

Well, I bit the bullet and gave a reading at a local bookstore.  Of course, I was filled with dread.  Would anyone even show up?  Well, they did.  Almost all the seats were taken.  Some of the people had already read the book, which was good for discussion.  Others, who had not, bought it after the reading. Of course, I signed them all.

The passage I read starts on p. 15.  The book opened with Barbara's depression, which had resulted in her staying in bed all day for weeks.  Then, she finally went to a psychiatrist.  This excerpt describes what happened the next day.

The next morning, to my  husband's surprise, I crawled out of bed at six o'clock, shoved my feet in beat up old sneakers, pulled a T-shirt over my head and raced out the front door.  I felt a great urge to walk.  Living deep in the country, I had my choice of hacking my way through overgrown woodland trails or walking on paved roads.  That morning, I chose the roads, which were, as usual, quite deserted, with only the occasional car whooshing by.

It was early spring.  The trees were pregnant with buds.  The deep blue of the myrtle was creeping  out of the woods.  The forsythias were showing off their brilliant yellow branche in the first of the real flashy spring hows.  The robins were back, hopping on the lawn, cocking their heads to hear worms in the soil.  Swallows scissored against the blue skies, enjoying the Mayflies no doubt, those thick swarms of nasty little flies that got into your mouth and eyes if you dallied outside in the early evening when the sun was down but it was still light.  They made ealy morning walks and Little League games a torment. When my sons were still children, good mommy that I was, I never missed a practice or a game.  I sat and watched them try to thwack the ball after the interminable waiting for their turns.  My boredom was rofound, my discomfort from biting bugs agonizing.  Still, I never told anybody how I hated Little League.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What People are Telling Me

Today, I received two emails at harrierose@verizon.net from people who had just finished Therapy: A Novel.  One of them especially has to be discussed, but both are more than favorable.

The first, by CC says,

I finished your novel. I loved it.

The writing was funny and vivid. The stories from Barbara's childhood that she recounts in therapy make you understand and love her. As a reader, I just wanted her to be happy. So much so that I started to feel she HAD to have an affair.

The happiness she finds near the end of book was inspirational to me. She finally accepts herself and others like she does the imperfections and changes in her beloved flower gardens.

Thank you. I really enjoyed it.

Except that I'm surprised that she found nothing wrong with Barbara's actions, I certainly loved getting this.

The second, also favorable, from JS, said

And I read your Therapy book and loved it! I'm interested in talking to you about it. I think a lot of it is autobiographical. It is so well written and interesting. You really captured how Barbara was feeling and her relationships with everyone. I loaned my copy to a friend and will let you know what she says about it. You are a talented writer who really should write more fiction.

So many early readers thought this novel is autobiographical that I had to use a pen name.  My real name is well-known in my community, and a lot of people know my husband and kids, and also my now deceased parents.  In no way was my upbringing like that portrayed in the novel.  In fact, my parents were so proud of me, it was embarrassing as they constantly bragged about me to their friends and acquaintances.  Needless to say, my husband is nothing like Joe in the novel and my kids are very loving, not like the ones who drove Barbara mad.  In fact, at our Golden Anniversary, my sons individually toasted us, thanking  us for giving them such happy and enriching childhoods.

Because my profession entails my knowing exactly how people actually speak, my narrative is realistic.  It sounds like somebody actually reminiscing, but it is all fiction.  I am not Barbara.  My husband is not Joe.  My parents were not abusive.  Please, as you read this, remember that although a novelist takes some of her material from her own life, such as her height or hair color, or the locales she grew up in, most of the novel is sheer fiction.

I wrote this because of my doubts about the efficacy of therapy, not as an autobiography.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Why I wrote the novel Therapy

Many of the people I know have been or are in therapy. I also have been.  I was lucky. My psychiatrist was  gay, a very compassionate and insightful man.  Others,  however, have told me stories of how their shrinks pushed them into  decisions, or fell asleep while they were talking.  All of them complained that their therapists said very little, and they wondered if they were even listening. I knew when I went into therapy that therapists are trained not to speak much, but to let patients talk freely.  Therapists aren't supposed to judge or give overt advice, although some do.  Even if they don't, their body motions and facial movements often give away their feelings and patients to pick up on those.

One of my friends, a male, remarked that "I always end up falling in love with my therapists."  And I do know people who actually married them.  My research into psychiatry spoke of transference, the patient's laying their own feelings on to the psychiarist, and countertransference, the psychiatrist's laying their feelings on to the patients.  In the literature, this usually transpires when therapist and patient are of the opposite sex.

With my own background in communications, it occurred to me that there is something inherently romantic in psychoanalysis or other therapies.  When you fall in live with somebody, usually the way you know it is that you find it easy to talk to the person.  How often do people say, "The moment I met him, we just talked all night."

The therapeutic session is like a replay of falling in  love: you just talk away and the more you talk , the more you reveal about yourself, the warmer you feel towards the therapist.  I thought to myself, "suppose the therapist is a handsome, heterosexual young man and suppose he looks at the patient with glowing eyes--even stares in her eyes as lovers do."  Then, that could induce the  patient, especially if she is love-starved to fall in love with him.  On his part, the very facts of the situation lead to his reciprocating that love.  These facts are that  she tells him so much, looks at him invitingly and angles her body towards him as you do when you are interested in somebody. Think of how warmly you feel towards a person when they confide in you, when they look in your eyes and pay close attention to you.  All these things lead to falling in love.

However, I also know of a psychiatrist's professional ethics,  He--or she--is supposed to excuse himself from the case as soon as he realizes there is a mutual attraction, or even a one-sided one.  The therapist is not supposed to see the patient outside of the office at all or socialize with the patient in any way.

I took these twin situations, patient and therapist falling in love, and the forbidden love itself and wrote the novel.  Why? Because it is a story, but also, I have known so many people who have not been cured by anything the therapist said. I have known others whose therapists relish the power they have over patients and use it to make the patient do things like leave their spouses!  This happens more than people realize.

I am not against therapy per se.  I knew therapy could be good and could be romance-free.  My experience had no romance at all in it.  Not only was the therapist overtly gay , but not attractive to me sexually.  He didn't press me to take any courses of actions.  He just asked judicious questions and let me figure  out the answers myself.

However, in my imagination, I created a very different scenario, the scenario in  Therapy: A Novel. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August in New England

August in New England is both wonderful and sad. The gardens are at the height of their lushness. The farm stands are selling the sweetest corn, the best tasting just picked tomatoes, and crispy fresh cukes that give off an aroma when you cut into them. the first tart and juicy apples will be ready for picking in three or four weeks. I'd guess they'll be early this year because of the hot spring and summer we've had.

Its sad, though, because it's summer's end.  Yes, fall is beautiful with the trees and bushes blazing in reds and orange.  They are contrasted with those that are  lemon yellow and even magenta or deep rose, all set off by the abundant evergreens.  People don't realize that an ocean bound state like Rhode Island is almost 70% woodland.  When you drive through the state, most roads are bordered by lush woods in summer, which turn to a brilliant tapestry in fall. 

So why do I lament the end of summer?  I love  the easy warmth of summer, and the vivid birds that nest here, like the Orioles and Tanagers, who will will be migrating soon.  And winter is that much closer.  Not that winter is all bad.  It isn't, but I love summer. Not just because of the warmth,but for its light.  The way the lush green makes everything look, the particular shadows of summer.  Fortunately spring follows the drabness of winter with spring's  wondrous rebirthing of flowers, shrubs, and trees.

What do you like best about your climate?  And don't just say that it's warm in winter.  I expect that.