Friday, October 25, 2019

The Worst Thanksgiving Ever...And Can a Romantic Heroine Stay Happily Single?

Is this the only path to happiness? 
Some of my readers have been discussing whether Camilla should “end up” with one of her string of charming, but unsuitable boyfriends. Her marriage to newsman Jonathan Kahn ended in disaster, and she hasn’t made any terribly good decisions about romantic partners since.

At the end of each book, Camilla has a nice “happy for now” ending, but readers don’t really expect the romance to last.

My tagline for the series has always been “Murder, Mayhem, and Mr. Wrong.”

Personally I don’t feel she can settle down with a Mr. Right unless the series is ending. I think of all the TV shows that faded away once the main characters consummated the relationship. Moonlighting, Dexter, and Castle come to mind.

Finding Happiness

So does a woman really have to be tethered to a man in order to have a “Happy Ever After” life in contemporary fiction?

Recently I visited a hairdresser who talked about a widow friend
who she felt was still attractive enough “to find happiness.”

Find happiness. That phrase had me seeing red, although I didn’t say anything.

I’m single. I’ve been single most of my life, and I’m not actively looking for an old man to take care of in my “golden years”—does that mean I’m not happy?

It doesn’t feel that way. I’m free to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it. If I feel like hopping on a plane to have an adventure, I can. If I want to hole up for six months and grind out a book, I can do that too.

I live in a lovely little house by the sea in a quiet neighborhood full of wonderful friends. My own personal writing retreat.

Like Camilla with her cottage and bookstore.

So can’t she have a happy life with a series of boyfriends instead of just one?

Holidays Are Tough for Singles...but You're Wrong About Why

Unfortunately, some people still believe “single” is a synonym for "needy" and “unwanted.”

As we get hurtled into “The Holidaze,” we approach a time that’s precarious for us singles. No, not because we’re all sitting alone and in despair because we’re not cooking a turkey dinner for twenty-five or fighting with a spouse about which set of in-laws to visit for Christmas.

Not going to a holiday party can be fun, too
But this is the season when married people trot out their pity for the “poor, sad, lonely” single people. 

They invite us to tension-filled family dinners with the MAGA parents and non-binary teenagers and the untrained puppy who tries to take your leg to the we don’t “have to be alone.”

Sometimes they try to fix us up. They invite two single persons of opposite genders to the tension-filled family dinner and expect romantic sparks to fly. The sparks are almost always a no-show. Instead, awkwardness ensues.

For me, the best holiday celebrations are big neighborhood parties where everybody brings a dish and there are kids and dogs and everybody’s having a good time no matter what their living arrangements.

And if I don’t happen to get invited anywhere, I can still have a wonderful holiday. 

One Thanksgiving, when the weather was more suited for the beach than roasting large birds, I made a turkey sandwich (with cranberries—had to have cranberries) and took a book to the beach. What a great day! (Even though a seagull tried to take half my sandwich.)

The Worst Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

Worse than having dinner with these guys.
But I have had some bad ones. The worst holiday I ever spent was the Thanksgiving when a married acquaintance insisted I come to her house for her very special turkey dinner. I had two other invitations, but I turned them down because this woman was so insistent.

I got all gussied up and brought a pricey bottle of wine because I assumed it was going to be a fancy do. 

But when I arrived, the woman ushered me into her astonishingly messy kitchen, and pointed at the cold, half eaten turkey on the table and told me to help myself. But I wasn’t to eat any stuffing or cranberries or dessert, she said, because those were “for the family.” Slowly I realized that her family had already eaten and I’d been invited to pick over the unwanted leftovers.  

Even though we were the same age and the same social class, both homeowners who were gainfully employed, she saw me as some pathetic stray she was generously allowing to eat her scraps.

All because I’m single.

As if this were 1890 and women had to be the property of a man in order to have food and a roof over their heads.

I learned something there. Like never accept an iffy holiday invite when you could be at the beach with a good book and an attentive seagull. 

Why I Prefer Happy for Now

The truth is that being single in a society where women are allowed to earn their own keep is a pretty nice life. 

We are only unhappy when ignorant people put us in awkward positions.

Which takes me back to Camilla. Camilla was raised to be uselessly rich, so she’s not terribly good at earning a living. But she has never expected a man to keep her. 

And she’s not desperate for love. Love appears, usually in the form of a complicated and peripatetic man. She resists, succumbs, resists again, then falls happily into his arms. For now.

Which is why I think “happy for now” is the best goal for her series.

What about you? Are you single and happy? Do you think marriage is the only path to happiness? What's the worst Thanksgiving experience you ever had?

No Place Like Home: Camilla Randall Comedy-Mystery #4
(But it can be read as a stand-alone)

Wealthy Doria Windsor is suddenly homeless and accused of a murder she didn't commit. But Camilla, with the help of a brave trio of homeless people, the adorable Mr. X, and a little dog named Toto, is determined to unmask the real killer and discover the dark secrets of Doria’s deceased “financial wizard” husband before Doria is killed herself.

"A warp-speed, lighthearted comedy-mystery"...Abigail Padgett
"A fun, charming novel about the rich and less so" ...Karen Doering
"A cross of dry British humor and American wackiness, and it all adds up to a fun read." ...Deborah Bayles.
"It's comedy about a dark topic – homelessness – and it succeeds without ever descending into tasteless insensitivity, or tipping over into sentimentality."...Lucinda Elliot

Available at all the Amazons and NOOK,  Page Foundry, Kobo and iTunes It's also available in paperback from Amazon USAmazon UK, and Barnes and Noble, in regular and LARGE PRINT. LARGE PRINT is also available at Barnes and Noble.
Narrated by award-winner C. S. Perryess and Anne R. Allen (as Camilla)
Nearly 8 hours of hilarious entertainment!Only $1.99 if you buy the Kindle ebook


  1. I'm newly single, Anne, as you know - after many years married to a fine man who died. I am learning everything you mentioned above. And I've found the best thing is to seek out other single people rather than hang with my old married friends. Those old friends don't seem to know what to do with me. I don't *fit*. Of course, since you and I write zany comedy, we were always going to be outside the structured box, eh? grin

    1. Melodie--I have a lot of close friends who are recent widows. They all say the same thing. Old situations suddenly become awkward. Women who used to host the big family "do" suddenly aren't invited. Or they're expected to carry on as if they hadn't lost the partner who did half the work. We're a society in transition, and we don't know how to deal with "old maids", divorcees (oh, my!) and widows the way our ancestors did. Most of that is good, but we haven't created a substitute rule of conduct. So we're treated as embarrassments. Not easy. But hanging out with other single women friends (who can laugh with us) helps a lot! Yeah. Live outside the box!

  2. Hi Anne! I was married when I was 18; my husband died just over 7 years later from leukemia. Was a widow for 10 months, not looking to get married again. Met my present husband, became fast friends, and was married 6 weeks later (we just celebrated our 22nd anniversary a few months ago). I loved my single life (which confused many). I love married life now. I think people erroneously confuse "single" with lonely and "married" with happy...which is not only oudated, but patently ridiculous.

    Happiness is a state of well-being that has nothing to do with marital status and everything to do with being comfortable in your own skin...and enjoying your own company. πŸ™‚

    This is one reason I don't read romances (and could never write one): I don't believe a spouse "completes" a person (many miserable people are married). And, I don't think it's a human birthright to be partnered (or have kids for that matter).

    In short...keep Camilla single! 😁 And YAY, you, for cultivating a fulfilling life without a partner...and staying strong despite the insensitive and ignorant behavior of "marrieds". 😜

    1. Janet--I'm so glad you agree about Camilla. It sounds like you've had some tragedy in your life, but you've overcome it. The idea of "single" meaning "unhappy" is a concept that comes from an era that thankfully is over. Women still earn less than men, but that doesn't mean we can't take care of ourselves. And you're right that marriage is no guarantee of happiness. I was married for two insane years and I was so relieved when it was over! I'm still friends with him, but I don't envy his fifth wife!

    2. Haha! And that doesn't count the mistresses in between. The guy is seriously high maintenance.