It was only while I was researching for my novel,
Wild Violets that I
learned that my mother "farmed out" my sister and brother
to strangers. The term usually referred to children who were sent to a relative
back in the day. In my siblings' case it was a true indenture. My brother and
sister had to work for their keep, ages six and 11. I never knew this because I
was the baby in the family, born 11 and 8 years, respectively, after my siblings.
They told me these stories as I plumbed their pasts before I was born, when they
lived with our mother over the bar that she owned. "Wild Violets" began as a
romanticized version of my Mother as a flapper and entrepreneur in the 1920's in
San Francisco. As I was writing and the family secrets unfolded, the romanticism
flew right out the window. And that's okay; remember what I've said before about
your story taking hold and telling itself?
But the enormity of my mother's actions still didn't really sink in....grab my
heart. 'It happened so long ago, it happened in a different time, it didn't
happen to me', I told myself.
Until....I began to actually write that part of the story. Here were these two
little kids dumped at the front door of a farm house by their mother and her
current boyfriend. The kids had no warning, no time frame, didn't even know if
they would ever see their mother again. And for no good reason. The family
wasn't destitute....she owned a bar and grill in San Francisco. There were no
addiction problems unless you counted our mother's addition to men.
As I wrote those pages, I finally became invested in what had happened to my
brother and sister over seventy years ago. And my heart broke. To finally see
why, in part, they became the people they are today. Why, at times, my sister
bitterly resented me. Why my brother was an overachiever and obsessed with family.
In my own way, I too was abandoned by our mother. No, she never farmed me out.
Nothing so overt as that. But she chose her men over me, time and time again.
Her desires always trumped my childhood needs.
I was a left-over. A possession that she could put down or pick up again on a
whim. Show off to her current beau or friends and then set in a corner, like an
And if you, my readers, hear bitterness leaking through my words....it's not for
me and how I was raised. Because I have overcome my past and empowered myself to
be the fierce, tough and resilient woman that I am today. Seeking and honing my
talent and achieving my goals.
The bitterness and heartache you hear, in my voice, are for those two little
kids dumped at a stranger's door!
The result is a rich, human, family story of a different time.
It’s the roaring twenties in San Francisco, a decade famous for hot jazz and
bath tub gin.
Violet (The Guyer Girls) has grown into a beautiful woman with children of her
own. She has left her small home town in the Pacific Northwest to pursue a
successful basketball career and with her earnings, she bought a bar and grill.
She is a ‘flapper’ in every sense of the word; working all day and playing all
night. While her teenage daughter raises her seven year old son, Violet is out
on the town with her latest man de’jour. Dressed in her signature red dress, she
is the toast of the town and owner of a speakeasy where she hosts the cream of
San Francisco’s society, city politicians, bishops, and Hollywood celebrities.
But there is an underbelly of corruption, grifters, the mob, excess, and neglect
in Violet’s life. Her two children are an afterthought and she chooses her men
over their well being time and time again. Their childhood needs are always
trumped by her self-indulgent desires. The two children are possessions that she
can put down or pick up again on a whim, showing them off to her current beau or
friends and then forgotten. And when they get in her way, she gets rid of them.
Also available in audiobook
3 comments posted.
This is such an interesting book, yet it's sad. The main thing is that you're reunited, although fractured as a family. If I were to ever write a book about my childhood, people wouldn't believe it actually happened. My Sisters and I remained fairly close throughout life, but after my Mother passed away, our family fell apart. My Dad is still alive, but has done nothing to keep us together as a family. Now he's in bad health and my Sister put him in a nursing home. That's another story. Anyway, I am putting your book on my TBR list, and I'm sure that I'll be able to relate to your story on some capacity.
(Peggy Roberson 11:24am January 2, 2014)
Trisha, Your book cover caught my attention first, then I read what the story was about. Shock, then sadness, but a story that will hold my attention and worthy enough for my book club friends to read and discuss. It amazes me the strength that people have to endure such bad beginnings.
This is a must read for me.
(Rosemary Simm 2:29pm January 2, 2014)