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The Discontent of Mary Wenger
(Paper Dolls #1)
by Robert Tucker
Publication Date: February 3rd, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing
Emotionally torn between the conflicting historical social forces of feminism and the traditional roles of women in post-World War II society, Mary Wenger struggles with a deep sense of despair. Spanning the continent during the decades of the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s to the turn of the century, her compulsive lifelong odyssey in search of an acceptable house in which to realize her personal and economic goals throws her out of balance with her family.
A master wordsmith tells Mary’s story with a subtle touch of humor only an actual descendant could wield with success. Her fictional memoir is based on historical facts and bravely reveals Mary’s discovery and fear of separation from her children. The existential examination allows Mary to finally understand how her personal discontent, obsessions, internal demons, and depression affect her husband and children, as they mature and independently react to her attempts to mold them to her vision of how they all should be as a family. The life of every character is determined by his or her delusions and how they clash or compromise with one another.
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Since I was a young girl, I have always believed that death is stalking me. It lurks and hovers in the dark recesses of my mind like a virus waiting to strike and destroy when I least expect it.
When I was eight years old, I wrote a poem about myself and death.
My name is Mary
Death is scary
It makes me wary
Being wary makes me carey
All my life, I have developed defenses and tried to be a protector of the people I love. They often didn’t see things the way I did and they didn’t agree with me. But I knew what was best for all of us.
I always have.
My mother told me the first night when she and Dad moved in, the wail of an infant floated up to their bedroom. Eyes wide open with fear, she lay listening as the weak cry faded to silence.
“Mike, did you hear that?” she whispered and poked Dad in the ribs. “It came from the cellar.”
“Just a cat. I’ll chase it out in the morning.”
Shaking his arm, she insisted. “It sounded like a baby. You must go down and look.”
“I’m tired. I look in the morning.”
“Please, Mike, I scared.”
“Aah! All right.” He touched a lighted match to their bedside candle. The electricity had not yet been connected. He went down the creaking stairs into the cellar.
Unseen by him, a woman’s bare foot and leg were pulled out through the window. The glow of the candle light was reflected by the wet shine of an object in one corner. Dad approached it and his blood chilled.
A newborn infant lay curled, the blood and mucous of the afterbirth still clinging to its blue body.
In horror, he fumbled his way back up the stairs to the bedroom where he blew out the candle and set it on the dresser.
Mother pulled the blankets close around herself. “What was it?”
Dad quickly climbed into bed. “Nothing but cat. I get rid of it in the morning.”
Before Mother awoke, Dad buried the infant in the back part of the yard farthest from the house in a corner of what would be a vegetable garden.
Many years later, when I was a young woman, Mother told me she knew Dad had lied to her to shield her from the grotesque reality of what he had found in the basement. She knew the difference between the wail of a newborn infant and the wail of a cat.
She never asked him where he had buried the infant. She suspected she knew from the unusual growth and size of tomatoes she had planted in that section of the garden. The thought of the child as fertilizer sickened her. Believing the soul of the infant existed in the ripe red fruit, she buried the tomatoes in a field far from the house and dug up and destroyed the plants.
Refusing to explain why, she avoided planting any other vegetables in that part of the garden. The spot of untilled soil was a silent message to Dad that she knew what had lain buried there.
I was sitting between Ruth and Nina clinking ice in our glasses of lemonade. I slowly turned the pages of the latest Sears & Roebuck catalog while they chatted about the clothes and merchandise they would buy if they had the money. We all did a lot of wishing in those days. Wishing didn’t cost anything, but left us with an aching malaise and a shared emptiness that our imaginations could not fill.
Since we had little in the way of personal possessions, we shared everything. If one of us even bought a candy bar, we wouldn’t think of eating it all. We would divide it up so each of us had a taste.
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About the Author
Author of 27 novels and a retired business and management consultant in a wide range of industries throughout the country, I reside with my wife in Southern California.
I’m a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles with Bachelor’s and Master Degrees.
A Pulitzer nominated author, I am a recipient of the Samuel Goldwyn and Donald Davis Literary Awards.
An affinity for family and generations pervades my novels. My works are literary and genre fiction that address the nature and importance of personal integrity.
As the grandson of immigrants who fled persecution in Germany and Austria-Hungary and came to America during the early 1900’s, the early history of our country and the rise of the middle-class have always held a fascination for me. The dramatic depiction of fictional characters placed in actual events sharply and realistically bring alive the harsh times and adversity of the multitude of people who sought freedom and a better way of life and demonstrate that only a little over one-hundred years have passed to bring us to where we are as a struggling society today.
The chronology and events of history have captured and held my interest for many reasons, among them being stories that entertain, educate, and inform. Learning about the lives of my immigrant grandparents coming to America from Czechoslovakia during the early 1900s and the lives of my parents during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s provided the initial motivation. Researching and writing historical fiction is a way to learn more about myself and my origins and the social, political, and economic influences related to my generation.
Whether writing historical fiction or non-fiction or fantasy, I’m drawn into the societies and cultures of a particular period that inspire the creation of characters who bring that era to life. Not only do I experience this dynamic in books, but in films, plays, dance, music, and other art forms.
Researching history takes me into the exploration of new territory perhaps outside of my own life experience through reading other sources, interviews, travel, and films. Although a number of fine books are written from personal experience by authors who lived through those times, much of the historical writing by contemporary authors is dependent on secondary sources. Forays into the past for story material is a rewarding part of the creative process.
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One Reply to “Spotlight & Excerpt: The Discontent of Mary Wenger, by Robert Tucker”
This looks like an interesting read.