The Next Chapter

Lauren B. Davis ponders tragedy, forgiveness and coping with difficult people with novel Even So

The Montreal-born author talks about her latest novel.
Even So is a novel by Lauren B. Davis. (Dundurn Press, Helen Tansey)

Lauren B. Davis is the Montreal-born author of novels such as The Grimoire of Kensington Market and Against a Darkening Sky. In her novels, Davis digs deeply into self-destructive behaviour through characters who not only hurt themselves, but those around them.

Her latest, Even So, is the story of two women who are living two way different lives: Angela Morrison, who on the surface appears to have the ideal life and Sister Eileen, a nun struggles with her faith and hides a terrible secret. 

Even So is a novel about forgiveness, redemption and the challenge of loving difficult people. Davis spoke with Shelagh Roger about writing Even So

People behaving badly

"Even So features a theme I have talked about a lot in my books, which is 'us versus them.' Who do we consider the other — and how do we respond to the other?

"How does that change us? How does it change them?" 

Forgiving others and yourself

"I come from a — how shall I put this —  not horrific background, but the woman who raised me, my adopted mother, had serious mental health issues. My adopted father was an alcoholic. I was an only child. I was left alone a lot of the time with a woman who had pretty intense mental problems. There was some abuse and for the longest time, I absolutely was not going to forgive her because she refused to take any responsibility for it.

I came to accept the fact that whatever I thought I wanted from this woman as a mother figure was never going to happen.

"In fact, she would say things like, 'When I was doing those things to you, you have to understand, I was mad at your father. And of course, I'm thinking, 'Well, I don't know how beating a seven-year-old helps you get back at a fully grown man, but maybe that's just me.' 

"I came to accept the fact that whatever I thought I wanted from this woman as a mother figure was never going to happen. She just couldn't. There wasn't anything for her to give. And so was I going to stay in a relationship with her? 

"The older she got, the worse it got. Ultimately, I found that I couldn't abandon her…because I didn't think I could live with the guilt of it and because I knew that I was the only person left in her world."

Lauren B. Davis's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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