Shades of Teale

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A Novel by Susan Crossman

 

Goal of the Book:

 

To create a compelling story about spousal abuse that would explain to readers why women stay in abusive relationships and provide a road map for helping people move out of an abusive situation and into a life free of heart-shattering fear.

 

Synopsis of Shades of Teale

 

“Shades of Teale” is a novel that tells the story of a woman who begins her first marriage floating on the naïve and very pretty delusion that her husband is a genius, wedded life is bliss and marriage is forever. Although she’s probably old enough to know better at the outset, Teale Covey bumps through the lessons of womanhood and eventually comes to a more mature understanding of life, love and her own self-worth.

The book opens post-divorce with Teale nursing a mid-morning beer while tensely roaming a beach in the rain. While the opening contains a hint that she has further lessons to learn about how to handle her romantic future, she starts the story fretfully examining the landscape of her marriage in an effort to understand how she could possibly have missed the clues that might have saved her from marital misery.

We walk the crumbling path of wedded bliss with Teale towards its painful conclusion, meeting her husband and members of her family and community, all of whom nudge her – sometimes not so gently – towards a better picture of her role in her own unhappiness.

While Teale is not the only one to blame — her husband David has an affair and proves to be completely self-absorbed in his approach to his career and, indeed, the couple’s social life – she does appear to be the only one to suffer unhappiness as the couple moves to France for several years so David can study and further his career. The Masterson’s have a baby and return to their home in Toronto; David resumes his exciting career and Teale is left to navigate young motherhood unsupported and uncheered. Eventually her husband bullies her into getting a job. It’s at that juncture that Teale begins to realize that other women experience fulfilling relationships with their husbands and she attempts to bring new life to her relationship with David.

What does she do next? That is the question this book ultimately answers.

Review

 

“This book seems to have been written by a sister of mine or at least by a cousin who lives nearby. I was looking forward to reading the book, knowing that I would enjoy Susan Crossman’s slick energetic and personable writing style. I had the pleasure of discovering her wit from her pieces on Quick Brown Fox and had chuckled my way through some of her Globe and Mail “Facts and Arguments” essays.

Susan makes me laugh, but tears can sneak in unexpectedly, sewing together the sorrow and joy that most of us know exist simultaneously at times. Her daringly honest but amusing personal accounts are immediately enthralling, so my confidence in Susan’s first fiction novel, when it arrived in my mailbox for review purposes, was unwavering.

The cover art is captivating. The plain teal colour of the book frames the gorgeous image of a waif we have all met or seen or been. Teale is an interesting choice for the name of the main character, since the colour itself is a shade of blue, synonymous with sadness and moods of depression. Susan has done her homework. Volunteering in a women’s shelter gave Susan heightened insight into the dark corners of the rooms that many women find themselves in.

Susan has woven every despicable trait she can find into the man of Teale’s dreams, and the beginning of their relationship seems almost funny, until it is not. David is a selfish spoiled slob of an excuse for a masculine lead, but since he shines up rather nicely, no one notices. Money can do that: add lustre to dreariness, obscuring keen vision.

I had to bite the bullet after putting the book down several times and walking away. Not from bad writing or lack of story, but because it made me so angry! The main character is melancholy, make-it-work Teale, and I just wanted to whack her over the head a few times with some well placed pillow fight advice. I restrained myself with great effort and proceeded to read Shades of Teale, slowly.

She grew on me, Teale. I liked the fact that she was looking back, in retrospect, but the colours of her memories were still painfully vivid. Not black and white, not a whiter shade of pale (as the song says) but technicolour Teale. A tasteful glimpse of too frequent tragedy. When the world seems too good to be true, it usually is, but often remains stubbornly out of sight for the immersed participant, hands flailing stubbornly trying to keep the head above the current.”

– F. H. Lee

 

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Shades of Teale, Autographed Paperback Copy