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This past November, the night before Thanksgiving, he and I were walking in Iowa City, down the hill behind the Dey House, and across the bridge that is a favorite of mine. “I love this bridge,” he said, and then, “Mom, what is the theme song of your novel?”
I worked on that first draft off and on, contracting and expanding, and playing with narration and voice. Some years it hummed softly on a shelf or in a drawer, other times it sang out to me to pay more attention and play and dance and work with it.
As Lucy Pilgrim does her best to live freely, she realizes that a return to her roots and a voicing of a wound, secret to even her, holds the key to more of that freedom. It is a story of generations of women, of the life-giving power of a mother’s voice, and it has also been called “an intriguing tale of sexual revelation”, this revelation is also a freedom-enhancer as Lucy discovers the autonomous nature of her sexuality and develops sexual agency.
She revealed more of her less-than-perfect self and felt a lot of shame and was working her way through that. In this scene, she is coming out of the worst of it, feeling stronger, and getting ready to leave Iowa again. This is the penultimate chapter of the novel, which has taken the reader through a lot of Lucy’s introspection, and her struggle with both wanting to please and impress others, especially her family, and her knowledge that it is better not to care what others, and these folks, think of her. Viola is her mother.
She died last year, a couple of weeks after the novel was released. It meant so much to me to see it in her hands, as the writing of it showed me all she had given me, much of which I did not see at the time. We so often heard growing up, those of my generation, “oh, just wait until your father gets home, or what will your father think?” This is a powerful counter statement to that, a reminder that fathers are not God.
Lucy, go see was recently honored as Finalist in American Book Fest’s 2018 Best Books Awards in the women’s issues category. The prima materia of the story is of the most intimate nature. I both hope that the novel leaves readers speechless, and that it inspires thoughtful, careful conversation.
An American and French citizen, she speaks English, French and Spanish, and translates from Catalan. Her Certificat de Langue Française is from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. A Spanish Ministry International Mobility Scholar for both her M.A. and her PhD, and a Visiting Scholar at the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa where she earned her B.A., she was also an Erasmus Distinguished Foreign Visitor at the Josef Skvorecky Literary Academy in Prague, Czech Republic.
For twenty-five years she traveled extensively throughout the world while living and working as model and actress in Italy, Japan, France, Spain, Hong Kong, Austria, and Switzerland. She has taught at the University of Barcelona, the CIEE Barcelona Study Center, the Writing School (Escola d’Escriptura) at the Ateneu Barcelonès, and after returning to her Iowan roots, she taught at The University of Dubuque, and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, where she was interim head of the French program.
Lucy, Go See won the Eric Hoffer Da Vinci Eye Award for Outstanding Cover Art. Carina Clark designed it with me so it is a co-award -