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Excerpt from Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Stories, Fables, Glimpses

by Lynne Schwartz

Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz X
Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2020, 224 pages

    Nov 2021, 224 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Lyndal Martin
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What was Seth appealing for? Rescue? He must know it was too late for rescue. They were both too sensible, too adult—too old!—for any impulsive return of the prodigal husband. An appeal nonetheless. For pity? Forgiveness? She could hardly even muster regret anymore. There was just the desiccation of the postvolcanic terrain.

"So, Evan, tell us about Prague." Grace again, determined to keep the chatter going. "It's not still the new Paris, is it? Was it ever, really?"

Well, yes, it had quieted down, he told them, but they should have seen it a couple of years ago ... "We were constantly meeting people we knew on the streets. If you can't make it in New York, try Prague. That was the mantra." He turned to his half-sisters. "We got some really good stuff coming through for a while. The Orient Express. The Original Oregano Head Trip."

"The Orient Express?" said Seth. "I thought they discontinued that. And what the hell is the Original Oregano—whatever?"

Oh, stop, Violet urged mutely. Keep still and wait.

"They're groups, Dad," said Lisa with a contempt made sharper by its restraint. Seth's pouring her the wine evidently hadn't won him any points. Jenny tittered, and both girls rolled their eyes.

"Oh. Groups," he echoed uncertainly.

Everyone but Violet burst out laughing. Carla clapped her hand over her mouth and looked around for guidance: is it okay to laugh? Even the dog barked with what seemed like amusement, and again Violet stroked it. In his confusion Seth was gazing at Violet.

"You know, rock bands," she murmured.

"Oh, right." He smiled wanly, trying to join in the merriment, but it was too late.

"By the way, Dad," Evan said, "you'll like this. I used to see Vaclav Havel sometimes in one of the local cafés. People just went right up and spoke to him."

Seth had admired Havel from the time he was a dissident playwright in blue jeans. Speak up, Violet beamed in Seth's direction. Take your rightful place. But he just nodded and bent absorbedly over his plate. Food, she'd learned way back in her internship, is the last best pleasure of the old.

There wasn't much lingering after the fruit salad. Lisa and Jenny vanished and pounding music came from upstairs. Carla excused herself to tend to the baby. Evan went out to admire Grace's new car while Seth helped Violet on with her coat. He'd always done that, even though she would have preferred to do it herself. But she was too civil to rebuff any well-meant impulse. How careful she'd been, in so many ways, and what had it gotten her? Cindy wasn't careful. Cindy had a free hand. Seth wasn't going anywhere, surely not now. And Cindy was fed up. Her prosperous, sexy wheeler-dealer would soon be retiring, doddering around the house day and night, underfoot. More trouble than the dog. Who would have dreamed she could be the instrument of the revenge Violet once craved. No, be kind to him, Violet wanted to tell her in farewell, but that would never do. She might have said it to the girls—she no longer cared what they thought of her—but that would only make things worse.

He gave her the look again as she said goodbye. This time his face was overlaid with misery. Regret. She would have been patient, the look said. He wouldn't have been the butt of jokes, with her. She would have been gracious, indulgent with his mishaps, keeping him well informed. Those were the rewards a faithful husband reaps after a lifetime of decent behavior. And now ...

But you would have had to tolerate me, Violet thought, and you didn't love me. She'd wasted hours pondering why she'd become unloved and still didn't know; maybe no one ever did. All she knew was that he couldn't give up his bliss in those solid pink arms.

Those pink arms were clasping the dog, as Cindy knelt down in a lavish spasm of affection that was also a restraining embrace, so the eager creature wouldn't leap on Violet to protest her leaving. "Kootchy kootchy poochy-woochy," Cindy kept repeating in little-girl squeals, letting the dog lick her face till it shone.

Excerpted from Truthtelling by Lynne Schwartz. Copyright © 2020 by Lynne Schwartz. Excerpted by permission of Delphinium Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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