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New Release: Left A Love Story by Mary Hogan with Excerpt

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Left A Love Story

by Mary Hogan

 

“A touching novel. The book poignantly portrays Fay’s struggle to come to terms with…uncomfortable yet necessary questions about the conditions of love.”—Publishers Weekly

“Hogan (The Woman in the Photo, 2016) does a good job of mixing humor and heartbreak in this sharply observed novel, drawn from her own experience.”—Booklist

 

In this beautifully crafted novel from the bestselling author of “Two Sisters” comes an illuminating story of how the link of love cannot be severed, even when memories fade

About the Book

Set against the gorgeous architecture of New York City, LEFT centers on Fay and Paul Agarra, a couple forced to reckon with Paul’s life-altering diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. While the subject matter can be heavy, LEFT is an often humorous story, and a poignant love story and love letter to anyone coping with an unforeseen event that tests their wedding vows to honor in sickness and in health.

What makes this novel so deeply felt, and quite frankly so special, is that Mary’s husband, actor Bob Hogan, is the inspiration for the fictional “Paul Agarra.” As she notes about the genesis of the book: “When I first thought about writing LEFT, I had the idea to create a hybrid: part memoir, part novel. Meaning, I would fictionalize true events that happened in my marriage. The final product turned out to be part truth, part fiction, and part my imagining of how my real life will be in a year or two.”

Paul and Fay Agarra have a happy—though untraditional—marriage. A criminal court judge in New York City, Paul is in his late 60s; Fay, an entrepreneurial artist, is in her late 40s. For the span of their twenty- year marriage, Paul has always been the man Fay can rely on no matter what. But when he inexplicably disappears during their dream vacation in Spain, Fay knows something is terribly wrong.

Soon there are more signs that Paul is beginning to change. Bouts of forgetfulness lead to mistakes in the courtroom. Simple tasks cause unexplainable outbursts of anger. As her husband transforms before her very eyes, Fay copes with her fears by retreating into an imaginary life filled with promise instead of pain. In Fay’s invented world, she envisions herself living a glamorous life free from heartache, with a handsome neighbor she barely knows rescuing her from a future she can’t accept. Sometimes when life falls apart a little fantasy goes a long way. But somewhere between hope and reality an unexpected future—one born out of life’s aching uncertainties—will find its way forward.

Mary’s emotionally rich and vibrant prose color the narrative with a layer of truthfulness that only comes from obeying the age-old adage: “write what you know.” And Mary knows the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, as her father passed away from the disease and now her husband has been diagnosed with a form of it. A triumphant story about a family who faces the unimaginable and perseveres LEFT is a heartening celebration of the bonds of marriage and a love that overcomes all obstacles.

 

Excerpt

I’d pushed for sightseeing. Of course. Málaga—the birthplace of Picasso—is an artist’s dream. Color everywhere. The Persian blue Mediterranean Sea, butter yellow high-rises, marmalade rooftops, basil green mountains, air the color of honey. Paul would have been happy relaxing at the cottage, puzzling over words like “spork” in the New York Times crossword. Not me. I needed to see color the way other women needed to eat chocolate.

“Orange.” It’s what John—Paul’s teenage son—had answered when I’d asked him what color he wanted to paint his bedroom.

“Carrot, pumpkin, or cantaloupe?” My face was as inscrutable as Mona Lisa’s. Back then, John was in a Trainspotting phase. Peroxided hair, black turtlenecks, Lou Reed, heroin

chic. He liked to test us. In those early days, I was a young stepmother learning on the fly.

Stupidly, Paul and I bought a run-down duplex apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side when we were newlyweds. Marriage, I learned quickly, was hard enough without Sheetrock dust all over your clothes. Still, the moment I set foot in that space, I knew it was my home. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a bricked garden on the ground floor. And, its own special gift: a sunny nook for my easel. It was everything I ever wanted. Worth our sweat and tears.

Every other weekend, Paul’s son lived with us. When it came time to paint his room, he smirked when he replied,

“Carrot.”

Paul weighed in from behind a newspaper. “N.O.”

“It’s my room!” All teenage grimace and pimply flush, John stamped his foot like a child.

“In my apartment,” said Paul.

Our apartment,” I gently reminded him. “And it’s John’s room. Why not let him pick the color? It’s only paint.”

Paul shot me a dark look; I helped him lighten up.

In the paint store, John chose a sickening nacho color. Paul opened his mouth to protest, but I silenced him with a tented brow. What did it matter? John was a good kid. A teenager, yes—moody, slouchy, occasionally reeking of hormonal funk—but tolerable. He chuckled when I said, “We should get two dogs named George and Ringo. You know, round out the band?” I loved him for not groaning. When John was with his dad, Paul, I’m sure he heard comments like that all the time.

Seriously, I could have done worse. Paul could have had a daughter.

“It’s not like he’s doing heroin,” I quietly told my brand-new husband.

In the screech of a Primal Scream CD, the three of us painted the walls—and ceiling!—of John’s bedroom. Afterward, sitting on the floor eating pizza, Paul’s son looked around and said, “This is the ugliest room I’ve ever seen.”

We all got a good laugh out of that.

John is a coder now. He lives in Boston with a beautiful wife and amazing daughter. Like I said, it was only paint.

“Fay is wise beyond my years.” It’s Paul’s favorite quip. Or was. Whenever he said it, he threw his head back and howled at his own cleverness. My husband’s laugh was an invitation to join his party. What I wouldn’t give to hear that sound one more time.

***

“Grilled sardines on the beach in El Palo?” I suggested on our cottage patio, in Spain’s afternoon light.

“Too many Speedos.”

“A trek up Gibralfaro?”

“So darn uphill.”

“How about a stroll along Calle Larios in central Málaga?”

“Watch every Latin lover ogle my wife?”

“Paul.”

“Spoon and fork!” he yelped, filling in the crossword. Then he set the puzzle aside and joined me in touring Málaga. Because he loved me.

I loved that city. It felt like warm bread to me. Irresistible. The sort of city a person could devour when she felt cold or empty.

Each day, Paul and I strolled the avenidas. Leisurely, like Spaniards. We left our New York pace at home. In the nave of La Manquita, we blessed ourselves with holy water and sat in dark pews to soak up the angelic rays slanting down from the heavenly stained glass windows. My husband lassoed me into the crook of his arm, pressed a kiss on my temple, and whispered, “Seeing you in this light is worth the trip.”

I grinned, blissful. Wrapping my arm around Paul’s soft waist, I quietly leaned in to kiss the baby skin under his chin, the spot I owned. My body fit so snugly into his I almost heard a click as we interlocked. In Paul Agarra’s devouring hug, the world and its perils were safely caged away.

Our life is a postcard, I thought, clueless. With a contented smile, I rested my cheek against my husband’s strong shoulder.

Love as it should be.

Not once, not ever, did I regret my choice. Not after our first anniversary or our last one: our twenty-second. In the early days of our marriage, I raised my right hand in the air and vowed, “I, Fay Agarra, do solemnly swear to allow my husband to be exactly who he is.” Paul promised, too. Our word to each other. We’d never expect the other to be older or younger. Paul wasn’t my dad; I wasn’t his midlife crisis. In the shower, Paul sang obscure blues songs about somebody doing somebody wrong. I danced the Macarena in our living

room. I added blond streaks to the front of my brown hair; Paul let his temples go peppery gray. I tolerated his Tom Selleck mustache (for a while); he patiently waited for me to blow-dry my “Rachel.”

After two miscarriages, my husband consoled an inconsolable me. He softly said, “Okay, love,” when I refused to try again. After my mother, my brother, my dad, I couldn’t bear to lose anyone else.

Men my age seemed like boys, heads bent over their cell phones as if the present moment was never riveting enough. Eyes roaming the other tables in a restaurant; brows cocked when a woman asked a waiter, “Do fries come with that?”

Paul is different. He’s a grown man. Words of commitment never get trapped behind overly bleached teeth.

I love you. You’re mine. We’re us.

Yeah, it shouldn’t have worked. Yet it did. Until it didn’t.

**********************************************

ABOUT THE BOOK LEFT: 

Trade Paperback ISBN:9780062678379; Price: $15.99

Ebook ISBN:9780062678386; Price: $10.99

Digital Audio ISBN:9780062850515; Price: $17.99

Available from Amazon & Barnes and Noble

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Hogan

MARY HOGAN is the bestselling author of Two Sisters and the historical novel, The Woman in the Photo. Previous novels include the young adult titles, The Serious Kiss, Perfect Girl and Pretty Face (HarperCollins). Mary lives in New York City with her husband, actor Robert Hogan, and their Catahoula Leopard rescue dog, Lucy. Find out more at MaryHogan.com

 

What reviewers are saying:

PRAISE FOR MARY HOGAN “A must read for everyone who longs for a page turning novel that holds you in its tender, often hilarious and poignant grip from page one. Loaded with emotion, laughter, surprise and ultimately the message of the fragility of life, Two Sisters will burn through the sisterhood of book clubs like a fever.” —Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of The Shoemaker’s Wife

“A mesmerizing journey into the secrets that can split apart brothers and sisters, children and their parents. It’s the perfect read for anyone who knows the way families can hold you up while breaking your heart.”—Lauren Grodstein, author of Our Short History, on Two Sisters

“Gripping and thought provoking, Two Sisters digs deep into emotions getting to the heart of family dynamics.”—New York Journal of Books

“A fascinating tale of two women, generations apart, who defy expectations to find their own paths to happiness and purpose. Awash in historical detail, this book is a real page-turner.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue, on The Woman in the Photo

“A fascinating snapshot of two women separated by time—each compelling in her own right—who together make for a novel so appealing you can’t stop reading. Well-researched history and modern intrigue, original and heartfelt.”—MJ Rose, New York Times bestselling author on The Woman in the Photo

“There is no doubt that The Woman in the Photo is a beautiful work of historical fiction…Hogan does a brilliant job at weaving their two stories together to make one fabulous novel about growing up and discovering who you are in more ways than one.”—New York Daily News

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