A Love Apart: No Ordinary Love Story

20
NOVEMBER 2013
Writing
A Love Apart is a novel close to my heart. In its various incarnations, it took me ten years to write. I was trying to tell a story based on a deep soul connection I’d recognized decades ago with someone I’d known through many lifetimes. Yet, I couldn’t find a way to fictionalize it. Finally, after a certain “literary intervention,” things with the novel began to come together.

I was in the library, on a strange impulse browsing the biography isle (not my usual reading fare), when a certain book seemed about to drop off the shelf above my head. I reached for the volume. It was The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, the tragic 12th century French lovers, correspondence that has survived over 800 years. I’d vaguely recalled their names, probably from a French literature class, but at the time, I knew virtually nothing about their story. I checked out the book.

I could not have anticipated the intensity of feeling I experienced as I read The Letters—sadness, anger, the pain of unimaginable cruelty, frustration with the religious rigidity of the time in which they were written. But also, at least on Heloise’s part, the expression of a depth of passion few ever experience, a passion I felt I knew intimately. By the end, I found myself dissolved in tears, hurling the book across the room. Something was going on here. Something I would not come to understand until much later. Suddenly, I knew I had to find a way to resolve, if only upon a page, what history had left tragically unresolved. I now had the canvas upon which to design a fiction that could hold the emotional truth of what both I and Heloise had experienced. I would create from the heartbreak, a thing of peace and beauty and transcendence.

Suddenly, I knew I had to find a way to resolve, if only upon a page, what history had left tragically unresolved.

I began with questions: What would happen if Heloise and Abelard found their way back to each other today? Who might they be? What might they remember? What might be unresolved within them and between them? How might they choose to do it differently?

And it evolved. From those inner creative realms, Lily and Julian made themselves and, their tale known to me. A Love Apart would tell the story of Lily, a poet, and Julian, a painter who find themselves in no ordinary love affair. It would take place in Asheville, NC.

Lily has been dreaming a young nun whose longing for a beautiful monk has filled her with inconsolable grief. Meanwhile, Julian, who moved to Asheville after the death of his partner Sam, feels compelled to paint crucifixes, cathedral spires, and a monk with the look of terror in his eyes.

Lily and Julian are inevitably drawn to each another, and their ensuing relationship weaves a timeless tapestry that both unravels the mystery of a tragic past and challenges them to understand a present passion filled with impossibility. They have help along the way. From intimate friends, from their art, from the wisdom of Lovina, an eccentric, endearing psychic who uses M&M’s to talk to spirits, and from an extraordinary vision that changes everything.

Les Amours painting Heloise and Abelard
If you’re a reader who appreciates lyrical writing, quirky characters, an engaging, expansive, and unusual contemporary love story with a little mystery, a little eloquent history, and the notion of a passion that transcends time, you might enjoy A Love Apart. You don’t need to know anything about Heloise and Abelard. Their story will unfold for you as it unfolds for Lily, which includes reading excerpts from the original letters.