Making Peace with the Past: First Step in Moving Forward

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Putting resentments aside is key to growth, author says.

When does a divorced woman need to move beyond her ex-husband? When must she not only forgive him, but herself? These are questions that characters ask themselves in "Late and Soon," a new novel by Robert J. Hughes in which a host of characters confront their confusions in love.

The novel centers upon Claire, an art specialist, who has been divorced for five years. Though her career has taken off, she finds herself unable to commit romantically. She still feels betrayed by her husband, Peter, who had left her for another man.

“Of course my character’s experience is unique,” says Hughes. “How else would she be believable? What is shared with the reader, however, is universal, simple in a way, and incredibly important to almost everyone - eventually.”

Early in the novel Claire runs into the man her husband has left her for. This man, Tobias, tells her that her ex-husband has left him, too. Claire realizes that she herself was not at fault, and that she needs to move on. At the same time, she realizes she must re-examine her role in her past life.

This comes into a clearer picture when her ex-husband's brother, Frank, comes to town, eager to begin a relationship with Claire -- and she is not at all certain about this. One sticking point: the two men are estranged for reasons beyond her failed marriage, and Claire knows that they themselves need to reconcile before they can move on. Claire knows, too, that for herself, she "retained only the promise of happiness," rather than seeking it. So she tries to change.

With an unwavering focus, the novel carries the reader from the depths of Claire’s reality, to her eventual solution through forgiveness and change.

Robert J. Hughes's novel, "Late and Soon," explores the measures people take to move ahead, including self-examination, forgiveness, acceptance -- and hope. He can speak about his novel, about its setting in the New York art world, and about the way in which forgiveness helps us find love.


Betsy Steve


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