Excerpt: Things Unsaid by Diana Y. Paul
Diana has provided an excerpt for her book as promised in the Monday night chat event.
Jules, her sister Joanne, and her brother Andrew all grew up in the same household—but their varying views of and reactions to their experiences growing up have made them all very different people. Now, as adults with children of their own, they are all faced with the question of what to do to help their parents, who insist on maintaining the upscale lifestyle they’re accustomed to despite their mounting debts. A deft exploration of the ever-shifting covenants between parents and children, Things Unsaid is a ferocious tale of family love, dysfunction, and sense of duty over forty years.
From “SafeHarbour”, Things Unsaid
by Diana Y. Paul
Everyone believed the Whitman girls had the mother they all wished for back then. “Oh, your mom’s so much fun. My mom’s not cool and my dad thinks your mom looks like some movie star,” Ann had said on more than one occasion. But what did her high school friends know?
Deirdre, Ann’s older sister, was Jules’s best friend, and Ann was Joanne’s. And Pat, Ann and Deirdre’s mother, was their mom’s best friend. They liked keeping friendships in the family. Easier that way—if the mothers wanted to see each other, the daughters could be together, too.
Ann came over almost every day in the summer during those high school days. Too hot to do anything but go to the pool or experiment with art or makeup, sometimes both. Ann had trouble telling the difference between the two: makeup and paint. Both had to do with the imagination—Joanne had plenty of that. Ann didn’t. But Joanne liked drawing: snakes, tarantulas, and Nazi swastikas, preferably all in the same picture. No color. Just ink and charcoal, so she could get all the details just right. Her friend liked conventional, colorful, pretty things: flowers, leaves, nothing scary.
Their house had a pseudo-Victorian/French sensibility. There was a “solarium,” not a TV room; a “foyer,” not a hallway; a “salon,” not a living room; four “boudoirs,” not bedrooms; and a “salle de bains,” not a bathroom like other families had. Dark-green wallpaper with white dogwood flowers lined the walls. Her parents’ boudoir had a Duncan Phyfe mahogany dressing table banded in brass, with a seat in striped beige-and-gold satin. Joanne would sit down carefully on the seat, as if she were sitting on a throne, and she and Ann would spritz each other with perfume from beautiful purple and gold atomizers and trans- lucent glass, spraying and spraying until they sneezed. Joanne once powdered Ann’s cheeks and nose—gently dusting the makeup on her friend’s upturned face—before remembering that her mother dusted her panties with that puff. She didn’t tell Ann.
Diana Y. Paul is the author of Things Unsaid. She has also written three books on Buddhism, one of which has been translated into Japanese and German (Women in Buddhism, University of California Press).
Diana was born in Akron, Ohio and is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in both psychology and philosophy and the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Ph.D in Buddhist Studies . Her short stories have appeared in a number of literary journals and she is currently working on a second novel, A Perfect Match. Currently, she lives in Carmel, CA with her husband and loves to create mixed media art, focusing on printmaking. Her art has been exhibited in California, Hawaii, and Japan.