The Month of Love

Today, being St. Valentine’s Day, how could I not write a blog about love?

My fiction writing is about love, in its various guises; ‘He is Not Worthy’ is about obsessive love and inappropriate love, where love wins out in the end. ‘Echoes of Drowning’ my 2nd novel, to be published in May is about enduring love, grief and love of family. And my 3rd novel is also about love – that of friendship, lost and found love.

Also, I wrote about my love story between my husband, in our autobiography, ‘Mixed Feelings’. 

So, as you can see, as for many of us, love is a hugely important part of our lives.

My favourite love stories that I’ve read, or watched in films.

When it comes to romantic books, two of my favourite all-time greats are, ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’, both which I read at school, and have read several times since.  Emily Bronte creates the perfect brooding male protagonist, and the tragic heroine in her story. I also loved the original black and white movie of this starring Laurence Oliver and Merle Oberon.  The love-hate relationship between the two protagonists in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is replayed over and over again in many stories and TV series, so much so that as soon as you see male and female friends, arguing you get the inkling that it won’t be long before romance ensues.

I’m not generally a fan of what I’d call ‘chick flicks’, however, the real tear-jerker, ‘The Notebook’ for me is a beautifully, tragic love story. It resonates with me, because I remember when, as a child one of our neighbours’ wives had dementia. When he could no long care for her at home, she went into care, and the saddest thing was, as in the film, she didn’t recognise him. I can’t find anything more heart-breaking than when the person you love deeply, looks into your eyes with complete incomprehension of who you are – when in the past, they have been full of love for you. Hence whenever I watch that film, I’m a crying wreck!

* My favourite musical is ‘Westside Story’, Romeo and Juliet’s love story moved to the US.  I love the old film version and even more, the latest, directed by Stephen Spielberg. The way he has brought the story up to date, and for me, I love that the main characters sing their own parts, unlike the original version with Natalie Woods and Richard Beymer.  I was blown away by the voices of Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, and it was wonderful to see Rita Moreno in this film too. The dancing was also, absolutely outstanding!

* Another film is ‘Loving’ a film that came out in 2016. This tells the story of Mildred and Richard Long, a mixed-race marriage in the 1950s.

They lived in the state of Virginia at a time when inter-racial marriage was illegal. Richard was white, and Mildred, mixed-race, African American and Native American. 

In 1958 they crossed the border into Washington D.C where inter-racial marriage was legal, and exchanged their vows. After returning to Virginia, five weeks later, they were arrested on the charge of violating Virginian laws, where inter-racial marriage was a felony.

They were sentenced to one year in prison, but were given a suspended sentence, under the proviso that they left Virginia and didn’t return for 25 years! They moved back to Washington, where they raised three children. However, Mildred was extremely homesick, missing her family and hometown.

In 1963 she wrote to Robert Kennedy, at that time, Attorney General, asking for his help. He referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union who agreed to take their case.

They spent many years embroiled in legal argument and personal hardship, until in 1967, the Supreme Court Justices found that Virginia’s inter-racial marriage law violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

“Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry a person of another race resides with the individuals and cannot be infringed by the state”– Chief Justice Earl Warren.

Despite this judgement, shockingly, some states were incredibly slow to remove the law from their state constitutions.

I find the Loving’s story shocking in so many ways. Obviously, mainly the fact that people view inter-racial marriages as a problem.  But also, that fact that it wasn’t until 1967 that this was sorted out (and sadly even later in some states).

I’m so grateful I was born and live in the UK and have the right to marry and love who I choose. In my optimism I want to continue to believe that I live in a country that accepts all of the multicultural diversity and traditions and the richness they add to society. I am thankful for the people who have chosen to work and live here, and given so much to our country. Without commenting politically, my main hope is that we don’t lose this diversity because there seems to be a huge change in many countries in Europe at the moment.

I mentioned our autobiography earlier, ‘Mixed Feelings’, titled as such, because we are a mixed-race couple. Those of us who do love across races, ethnicities, genders and any other differences in the eyes of others, should be eternally grateful for those couples who fought for their rights in the past and paved the way for our futures.