The Fine Art of Insincerity
Three grown Southern sisters have ten marriages between them—and more loom on the horizon—when Ginger, the eldest, wonders if she’s the only one who hasn’t inherited what their family calls “the Grandma Gene”: the tendency to like the casualness of courtship better than the intimacy of marriage. Could it be that her two sisters are fated to serially marry, just like their seven-times wed grandmother, Mrs. Lillian Irene Harper Winslow Goldstein Carey James Bobrinski Gordon George? It takes a “girls only” weekend, closing up Grandma’s treasured beach house for the last time, for the sisters to really unpack their family baggage, examine their relationship DNA, and discover the true legacy their much-marrying grandmother left behind . . .
Excerpt of chapter one:
“You can’t tell your sisters,” my grandmother once told me, “what I’m about to tell you.”
I listened, eyes big, heart open wide.
“Of all my grandchildren—” her hands spread as if to encompass a crowd infinitely larger than myself and my two siblings—“you’re my favorite.”
Then her arms enfolded me and I breathed in the scents of Shalimar and talcum powder as my face pressed the crepey softness of her cheek.
My grandmother married seven times, but not until I hit age ten or eleven did I realize that her accomplishment wasn’t necessarily praiseworthy. When Grandmother’s last husband died on her eighty-third birthday, she mentioned the possibility of marrying again, but I put my foot down and told her no more weddings. I suspect my edict suited her fine, because Grandmom always liked flirting better than marrying.
Later, one of the nurses at the home mentioned that my grandmother exhibited a charming personality quirk—“Perpetual Childhood Disorder,” she called it. PCD, all too common among elderly patients with dementia.
But Grandmother didn’t have dementia, and she had exhibited symptoms of PCD all her life. Though I didn’t know how to describe it in my younger years, I used to consider it a really fine quality.
During the summers when Daddy shipped me and my sisters off to Grandmom’s house, she used to wait until Rose and Penny were absorbed in their games, then she would call me into the blue bedroom upstairs. Sometimes she’d let me sort through the glass beaded “earbobs” in her jewelry box. Sometimes she’d sing to me. Sometimes she’d pull her lace-trimmed hanky from her pocketbook, fold it in half twice, and tell me the story of the well-dressed woman who sat on a bench and fell over backward. Then she’d flip her folded hankie and gleefully lift the woman’s skirt and petticoat, exposing two beribboned legs.
No matter how large her audience, the woman knew how to entertain.
I perched on the edge of the big iron bed and listened to her songs and stories, her earbobs clipped to the tender lobes of my ears, enduring the painful pinch because Grandmother said a woman had to suffer before she could be beautiful. Before I pulled off the torturous earbobs and left the room, she would draw me close and swear that out of all the girls in the world, I was the one she loved most.
Not until years later did I learn that she drew my sisters aside in the same way. I suppose she wanted to make sure we motherless girls knew we were treasured. But in those moments, I always felt truly special.
And for far too long, I believed her.
© 2012 by Angela Hunt, used by permission. Do not reprint without permission. For more information, visit www.angelahuntbooks.com
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