So I was lucky enough to read the amazing “The Dead Wifes Handbook” in advance of its release today, a wonderful story of love, loss and moving on.Hannah was kind enough to answer a few questions for me – Review to follow but first here is what she had to tell me.
What inspired you to write a story of loss from such a unique perspective?
A friend had been discussing with me her feelings about her ex-husband starting a new relationship: her fears and vulnerabilities about secrets of hers that he might share with his new partner. I suspected it was something that a lot of us might feel unnerved by and as I thought about it more, it struck me that the most extreme version of that is when you die. And then I got to thinking about how you might feel if you could actually watch the evolution of your ex-partner’s new relationship but be powerless to intervene. Hence the dead wife came into being.
Did you find yourself getting emotional while you were writing?
It’s probably not the done thing to acknowledge that your own writing makes you cry, but yes! There were some mornings when I’d be up early writing and by the time my husband came into the study I’d be in tears. When I’m in the midst of writing, I do feel like the characters are real people I care about: so I’m sad when they’re sad and happy when they are. It does mean you get through quite a lot of tissues.
Apart from Rachel, did you have a favourite character or one that resonated with you?
I rather love all three of the lead female characters: Rachel, Eve and Harriet. I think they’ve all got their strengths (and weaknesses) and I suspect there’s a little bit of me in all of them. I think Harriet’s pragmatism and sheer force of character are really refreshing (although I suspect she’s not everyone’s idea of a best friend!) and I love Eve’s vulnerability and generosity. And I feel incredible empathy with Rachel’s mum, Celia, too. She was actually a much less significant character in early drafts but after I had my daughter and started to imagine what it might be like to lose a child, her role and voice in the story became much more important.
Can you tell us anything about your next project?
Oh, Liz, you always ask everyone that and the answer is always the same! It’s under wraps at the moment – I’m just working on edits right now – but as soon as I’m ready to share it, I promise you’ll be the first to know. Well, one of the first…
Desert Island book
American Pastoral by Philip Roth.
One book you wish you had written
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.
First thing you would rescue apart from pets and family from a burning building
Not the most poetic of answers but my hard-drive – it’s got all my photos on (and I take a LOT of photos) and everything I’ve ever written. It’s one of the only truly irreplaceable things I own.
Something you wish you were good at but are not.
Sleeping. The upside to insomnia (reading a lot of books) has a limited shelf life. To be able to sleep for 6 hours straight would revolutionise my life.
Thank you so much Hannah!
‘Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.’As Rachel grieves for the life she’s lost and the life she’ll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.
I had been looking forward to this one, something slightly out of my “comfort” zone but one that sounded like it might end up being quite beautiful in the right hands and that was exactly how it turned out.
We follow along with Rachel, who died suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart problem, as she is allowed glimpses into the lives of the people she left behind..and in this creatively imagined way we ourselves catch a glimpse into the very real stages of grief. It is a gorgeous heartwarming tale, often bringing a tear to my eye…at the same time being full of a rather hopeful cathartic feel as all concerned come to terms with tragedy.
It is quite difficult to put into words how emotive this one was for me – so I’ll try and use my own perspective to give you an insight. I lost my Father when I was very young (not nearly as young as Ellie but far too young none the less) so it was easy for me to identify with her and understand what she was going through…and indeed what Max was going through as he tried to help her and himself. Then I am a mother of children similarly aged to Ellie – the very thought of not being around to see them through their childhood is horrific. Any mother will feel the same and will therefore be able to relate to Rachel, looking down occasionally but being unable to take back what was lost.
This novel captures the sense of so many things – love, loss, friendship, sadness, and hope..and how all things move forward over time. A tale of grief told from a unique perspective, beautifully written, heartfelt and impassioned, this one will have you reaching for the tissues..some of those tears will be happy ones. Most of all this is about love…and how sometimes that means letting go…
Find out more here: http://www.hannahbeckerman.com/
Follow Hannah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/hannahbeckerman
Happy Reading Folks!