Fuchsias and Jolly, Jolly Sixpence

Further about the stories that make up Coming to Terms:

One of the few stories I’ve written told from a female point of view, “Fuchsias” describes the end of a marriage. Jane, the protagonist, focuses her attention not on her husband and children but on the admiration she can arouse from outsiders. Even as her husband is moving out, she can’t bring herself to shift her awareness away from her admirers.

I see the story as a lesson in working for what is important and putting aside the trivial. Jane is so addicted to the opinions of others that she neglects her own family. But at the end of the story, even with her husband gone, she thirsts for the adulation of her admirers so much that she goes on with the party.

“Jolly, Jolly Sixpence” is the name of a song I first heard in Vietnam from Australian soldiers I worked with. The story by that name includes the lyrics to the song. It tells of a father who planted a cherry tree when his son was born. The marriage goes sour. The father is separated from his wife and son but takes his son on camping trips and tries to teach him the song he learned from Aussies in Vietnam. He discovers that another man, his ex-wife’s current boyfriend, has replaced him in the son’s affection. He decides to cut down the cherry tree planted to symbolize his love for his son.

Both stories are about broken marriages. They are drawn from my own experience.

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