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Dani Carter was seven years old — her sister, Rose, seventeen — when their beautiful, impetuous mother, Maria, walked out of their lives, abandoning her husband and family for a love affair. Over the decades that followed, Dani has married a successful man and given birth to a wonderful son. But love has long been missing from her marriage, propelling her into the arms of another and inspiring troubling thoughts of escape. The sins of the mother, Dani fears, have been visited ...
Dani Carter was seven years old — her sister, Rose, seventeen — when their beautiful, impetuous mother, Maria, walked out of their lives, abandoning her husband and family for a love affair. Over the decades that followed, Dani has married a successful man and given birth to a wonderful son. But love has long been missing from her marriage, propelling her into the arms of another and inspiring troubling thoughts of escape. The sins of the mother, Dani fears, have been visited upon the daughter.
Now that she finds herself in a similar heartbreaking situation, Dani can't help but wonder who Maria really was. It's a puzzle that may soon be completed, after a lifetime of searching for missing pieces. Maria, calling herself Mariah, is about to reenter her daughters' worlds, bearing secrets and bitter truths . . . and, perhaps, long-awaited answers to what could possibly drive a mother to sacrifice what was dearest to her heart.
Playing My Mother's Blues
I talk to ghosts these days; they are my only company. We speak at odd and sundry moments -- when the morning sun peeks into my bedroom, while I'm sitting on the bus to work, as I sip one of the two mixed drinks I allow myself before dinner. Events that occurred decades ago haunt me. My life is filled with phantoms.
The most persistent, of course, is the man whose life I took. Mine was a crime of rage and passion. He shows up at night before I fall asleep. Even after all these years, I can feel him enter my bed, touch my foot with his, pull me toward him against my will.
My daughters, Dani and Rose, who are both still alive and always a pleasure to see, arrive with first light. I see them as I saw them last, Dani as a little girl, Rose near womanhood. I talk to Dani as if she were still my baby, trying on my crazy earrings, dancing in my shoes, spraying herself with my cologne. Rose looks as she did on the night that changed us both, but I try to forget that image and replace it with one of her laughing as she used to when she would tease or scold me.
My ex-husband, Hilton Dells, appears when I least expect him. He'll show up suddenly, some small incident calling him up. Like today on my job, when Irish, the cashier who works the station next to me, was carrying on about this wedding she saw on TV.
"Did you see it?" she asked, and the girls at the other stations all began talking at once, giving lengthy descriptions of the dress the bride wore, the flowers in her bouquet, the engagement ring on her finger. That was when I thought of Hilton Dells and my own wedding,which none of the chattering women could have imagined.
My wedding dress was made in Paris. His choice, not mine; I was too foolish to be insulted by his presumption. I wore his mother's diamond ring. He once told me it was the only thing of value she had ever owned. I should have kept it; it would be of value to me right about now. I left it on my pillow the night I left them. I gave back everything he'd given me -- dresses, jewelry, furs, everything except the two things I valued most, which he snatched away.
I've never liked weddings.
"Well, did you see it?" Irish was impatient for my answer. Her real name is Bernadette but we call her Irish, because even though she's been here fifteen years, she still has an Irish accent that gives a charming lilt to everything she says."Did you see it when he gave her that last kiss? So what did you think?"
"Pretty cool," I said.
"Pretty cool! Maria, is that all you can say?"
I'm known here as Maria, the name my mother gave me. I was a number at Somerset -- 1054836.When I got out, I realized "Mariah," the name I once called myself, belonged to the past; Mariah died with Durrell Alexander.
I chuckled at Irish's excitement about the TV wedding, which brought another question.
"Maria, where is your mind?" Irish has reddish-brown hair that she tucks under a cap, and eyes so green they look fake. She's pretty but carries too much weight for someone her age.
It was going on eleven, and the Friday-morning shoppers had come and gone; the ones who shop at lunchtime hadn't yet arrived.
"Yeah, it was good, wasn't it?" I said, my mind returning from another of its journeys. Irish is thirty and married, with two kids and a disabled husband whom she adores. She goes to school at night to "better" herself. I liked her the moment I laid eyes on her because she's the same age my Dani is now.
But she's not Dani. She's "Irish," with curls that slip out of her cap, an angelic grin, and a bigoted husband who hates black people. She probably assumes I'm Hispanic because of my coloring and my name; most of the women at Somerset did even though I constantly told them what I was. By the time I left, I spoke Spanish with the best of them; it was easier that way.
"Maria, have you ever been married?"
"Yeah. Long time ago." I should have lied; I usually do. But it's hard to lie to a woman who reminds you so much of your daughter.
"I wish my wedding had been like that one on TV, with a long dress and a lacy veil and a big diamond ring I could wear instead of this old thing." She held out her hands. I noticed that she'd bitten her nails to the quick the way I used to.
"What was your wedding like, Maria?"
"Justice of the peace. Fast and easy. The ceremony, not the marriage. That lasted longer than it should have." That is the most I've told anyone about the life I led before I moved back here and began working in the store.
"Wanna get some lunch? Grab something at Dean's? They got specials on Friday."
"Not today, honey. I brought my own. Next week? I'll treat."
"Really?" Her eyes lit up.
Sure. That's me. Big-time spender, Maria.
Irish gave me a sunny grin, and I realized how fond I've become of her.
But not too fond. I keep to myself as much as I can. I don't like to explain to people who I was before and where I spent the last twenty years of my life. I treasure my solitude. I'm addicted to silence and privacy; I wallow in it. A sandwich eaten alone in some quiet clean place is a pleasure I never deny myself ...Playing My Mother's Blues. Copyright © by Valerie Wesley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Posted August 13, 2006
I DISAGREE WITH SOME OF THE OTHERS READERS ABOUT THIS STORY. I FELT THE STORY WAS VERY INTERESTING, IT WAS NOT BORING TO ME. IT SHOWS HOW HISTORY HAS A WAY OF REPEATING ITSELF SOMETIMES IN FAMILIES. IT DEALT WITH STRUGGLE, AND SO CALL LOVE. IT ALSO DEALS WITH REGRETS AND BROKEN PROMISES. THE STORY WAS VERY POWERFUL, AND I WAS ABLE TO WALK AWAY WITH ALOT TO THINK ABOUT, REGARDING MY FAMILY. I FEEL THAT THE STORY ENDED IN A WAY WHERE THERE COULD BE A BOOK II. I SAY IT IS WORTH A READ.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 23, 2006
Impetuous Maria left her spouse Hilton Dells for Durell Alexander. However, when she walked out on Hilton and became Mariah, she also abandoned her daughters seven year old Dani Carter and seventeen year old Rose. However, several months after she deserted her family for a love affair, the hotheaded Mariah killed her lover. She spent time in jail for the homicide while Hilton¿s sister Lucille raised her nieces especially the ¿baby¿.---------------- Maria reads an obit that Hilton just died. Whereas Dani overcame the betrayal, but remains curious about the woman she remembers filled with élan Rose has always acted as if their mom died years ago. Now the death of Hilton has brought to the surface the one guilt that Maria has tried to bury, abandoning her children. She wants to reconcile with them. Dani needs to understand her mom as she finds herself following her mother¿s path being marred with children, but having an affair. Rose, raging with rancor, wants nothing to do with the woman whose leaving devastated her. Lucille wants her former sister-in-law to stay away from her nieces. These four women meet ostensibly to bury Hilton but to exhume the past.------------------------ The viewpoint constantly switches mostly between Mariah, Rose, and Dani, and to a much lesser degree Lucille so that the audience sees the same incident from dissimilar perspectives. For instance what seems like a molehill to Maria is Mt. Everest to Rose as each looks back to the late 1960s early 1970s differently. The fine character study enables the audience to understand how a pivotal event over two decades ago still fully impacts the players. Though at times the introspection can slow down the plot, fans will enjoy this family drama starring believable protagonists struggling to understand one another.------------------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 22, 2005
I think the story could have been told, even ehanced upon, without being so 'wordy'. Also, 'Dee' from 'What's happening!' was not 'Rerun's' sister, she was 'Roger's' sister.
0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 13, 2005