Note: On October 12, 2010, beloved novelist Belva Plain passed away. What follows is an appreciation of her life and work by writer Randy Susan Meyers, author of the novel The Murderer's Daughters (2010, Macmillan).
“In the beginning there was a warm room with a table, a black iron stove and red flowered wallpaper.”
That’s the first line of Belva Plain’s first book. In a prescient review, Library Journal
wrote of Evergreen
: “A magnificent story...this beautifully written book will be treasured and reread for many years to come.
I read Evergreen
as I did most books in 1978—for the luxury of escape, seeking solace in a world that wasn’t mine, my world being defined by a two-year-old, a five- year-old, and a marriage chosen at 19, when I was in love and desperate for perceived safety.
Belva Plain’s books comforted me then and her life story has comforted me ever since. Each birthday
that another year passed without publishing a novel, each year that writing gave way to raising children and working, I’d think of Belva Plain publishing her first novel at 59. She’d sold short stories in her twenties, but broke from writing as she raised her family. I’d co-authored a nonfiction book in my twenties, and then became lost in family and work, until I realized my dream at 57, when I published my novel The Murderer’s Daughters.
Belva Plain was a guiding light to me from 1978 forward. As I counted down the years, in a world where youth is treated as an achievement, the presence of Belva Plain calmed me. For every time there is a season, I reminded myself. Ms. Plain was my example against the world’s devaluation of middle-aged women.
Ms. Plain was a New York Times bestselling author. Though rarely given critical acclaim, her rich reads offered millions exactly what they wanted, stories thick with family, conflict, and all the true and tough issues facing women. In her New York Times
obituary, she is quoted as saying: “I got sick of reading the same old story, told by Jewish writers, of the same old stereotypes — the possessive mothers, the worn-out fathers, all the rest of the neurotic rebellious unhappy self-hating tribe,” she said. “I wanted to write a different novel about Jews — and a truer one.”
An amazing and accomplished woman, Belva Plain built a wonderful life. From within her happiness—a long loving marriage, beloved by and close to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—Ms. Plain was able to touch the ways women stay strong in the face of the disasters they faced in their homes, in their communities, and in the world.
Belva Plain provided succor and transport in her stories and a breath-taking role model with her life. She will be missed.
You can find out more about Randy Susan Meyers and her novel at www.RandySusanMeyers.com
[caption id="attachment_556" align="alignleft" width="181" caption="Randy Susan Meyers"]
Posted by Marie.