Musing Mondays #18: Separation/Divorce in books

Posted June 2, 2014 in Discussion, Musing Mondays / 0 Comments

Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…
• Describe one of your reading habits.
• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).
• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it! 
• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.
• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!
• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!
My Musings:
Separation
 
I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately (or as I like to affectionately call it, hic-fic) and I’ve noticed one recurring theme.
 
Most of the hic-fic I read is about the wives of famous people. First Josephine, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte…then Hadley, wife of Ernest Hemingway…then Livia, wife of Augustus….
 
And there always seems to be that one thing looming above us the whole time we read:
 
DIVORCE.
 
Or just separation in general. I mean, sometimes we know the story so we can think ‘oh they get back together in the end it’s okay’ but for me, I don’t know history that well so I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m scared when I read. Honestly. It’s terrifying knowing it may end one way, and it may end another. Why the uncertainty? Because it’s HISTORY. It’s REAL. Some parts are fiction, of course, but it’s overwhelmingly….REAL. That’s why I love reading hic-fic. It actually happened. It’s exciting, and it happened. 
 
And that opens the door for both happiness and tragedy. It happens in real life. It happened in these people’s lives. THERE ISN’T ALWAYS GOING TO BE A HAPPY ENDING!!!
 
That’s scary for me. Usually I can tell with books. Usually they have happy endings. In some fictions, fantasies, whatever, the author strikes a horrible blow and some MC or SC (supporting character) lies dead. Sometimes I can come back from that, sometimes not.
But with a hic-fic, usually I get so invested in the characters because they were once REAL PEOPLE, that if something bad were to happen, I would likely throw the book at the wall…or…or something….
 
I have a low tolerance for hic-fic tragedy. And yet it happens. I am powerless to stop it. I can only react.
 
With Hadley, Hemingway’s first wife…well, it was pretty clear what was going to happen. It kind of spoiled it that it was about his ‘first’ wife. Oh, so he had more? So they divorce at some point? )’: Oh…okay……but that didn’t make it any less horrible when it happened. And it was made even sadder by the fact that he was writing a book about HER, his first years with HER, when he died. He still remembered…..and that makes you think, you know, what they COULD HAVE been….it’s too sad.
 
With Josephine, I couldn’t even tell if she was happy or not. She went from one bad husband to the next, in my opinion. Hard to get upset at that….but I really did care for her.
 
And Livia….oh goodness, you’ll have to read my review or my Letter to Livia to understand truly how emotional I got over that one. That book…okay, so I was reading in class, and there was this part where I REALLY WASN’T SURE whether they were gonna stay together or not. I was terrified. I was literally crying in class over this. They hadn’t even divorced and I was freaking out. (You know a book’s good when it does crazy things to your mind.) And then it really seemed like they were going to separate, and I was like…Oh NO! DON’T DO IT! PLEASE YOU GUYS COULD BE SO GOOD TOGETHER! DON’T GIVE UP NOW! and a lot of other heartfelt pleas. And then there was that so beautifully romantic moment where he’s like…I’d give up being ruler of Rome for you! and I was crying at that….Livia you can’t possibly refuse that…..and she was like oh thank goodness I love you too and HAPPY ENDING OMG it was insane. That book was such an emotional roller coaster I can’t even explain it coherently in a review or a rant or otherwise.
 
Just understand that separation/divorce in a book…or the possibility of such….can be terrifying if you truly don’t know or can’t predict the outcome. And in hic-fic, that’s especially true, because in the past, marriages like these were often arranged marriages or for political advantage or both, and there was little love factor and divorce was a small thing. These people had several wives. That was no big deal. So sometimes it ended happily, sometimes not so much. Sometimes it was an amicable mutual divorce. You never knew, but you got invested in it all the same. 
So! What do you guys think of separation/divorce in books? Historical fiction especially. Does it scare you? Or is it no big deal? Answer in the comments or link up your Musing Mondays!

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