The following is the Dear Reader letter that appears in the front of How To Mend A Broken Heart. This book has caused some chatter about the purpose of romance novels and suggestions that maybe it’s just a bit too dark and gritty. So with Nas’s blessing I’m reposting the Dear Reader letter here so you can judge for yourselves before you buy and read whether it is the right book for you.
Sometimes, as writers, there are just stories we have to tell. And this was one of them. I appreciate that it won’t be for everybody but I need to hope that with love and time even the deepest grief can be overcome. And I believe these love stories – the ones that aren’t easy - need to be told too.
I’d like to stress that Tess is in an abnormally long grieving cycle. She’s stuck. She’s not living, she’s just surviving. This may seem over the top to some people but believe me, while it isn’t the norm, it does happen.
I’d also like to thank my editor, Lucy, who had faith that I could do this heart wrenching issue justice and to thank everyone else for the thought provoking conversations and reviews.
The opening scene of How To Mend A Broken Heart came to me in this perfectly formed picture in my mind. I knew little about the woman kneeling over the grave at the time other than she was grieving for her child and that she was very, very broken. I didn’t even know her name! But I knew, after many years of sadness, I wanted her to be happy. To start functioning again.
The book deals with some heavy issues. Issues that, sadly, I have come across in my other life as a paediatric intensive care nurse. Issues that, no matter how hard you try to keep an emotional distance, still touch you on a personal level.
I often wonder what becomes of couples after their child has passed away. When they leave hospital for the last time without their little loved one in their arms. How do they cope with the grief? How do they ever lead a normal life when something so precious and integral to their happiness and identity as a couple has been wrenched away? And in particular how much worse is it when the death is accidental. When for a split section of distraction, a blip of inattention that marks us all as human beings, everything changes. How badly must they want to be able to go back in time, to do over that one moment, to make it all okay?
I also wanted to write a romance that didn’t have a “riding off into the sunset” ending. Re-uniting two broken people was never going to be easy and to give them an everything-is-okay-now future didn’t seem true to life. I wanted to show Tess and Fletch’s love was true but I needed to acknowledge that to make their marriage a success the second time round, they were going to need help. That they were going to have to work at it.
I loved giving these two people their lives back and whilst their story is wrenching at times, I hope I’ve been true to them and their love.
I hope you think so too.
Amy Andrews around the web:
One commenter will get a copy of HOW TO MEND A BROKEN HEART.