On June 9, 2018, an endless thirty-three days after Dear Heart was published, it was officially launched to my friends and family. Rarely do things go exactly as you hope they will, but I have to say that the launch party for Dear Heart was everything I dreamed about for four years while I was writing the book, envisioning the movie and querying publishers. I can't think of another instance in my lifetime when things went so perfectly.
My sister, Kathy, and my brother from another mother, Tom, came with the cannolis. My nephew, Michael, and my niece, Aimee, came with their daughter, Catherine. My cousin, John, and writer friend, Judith, my friends from the trenches, Tom, Glenda, Tina, Steve and Michelle, my good friends, Joan and Dan, my Nirvana buddies Denise and Lesla, and my cohorts in crime, Pat and Vance and Jill and Jeff all took time out of their busy lives to come to the party and help me celebrate the achievement of a lifetime.
I think it is safe to say that they were all stunned by the level of detail Arthur and I put into the decor -- and the food. Every type of food mentioned in the book was on display: exotic meats and cheeses, wonderfully briny olives, crusty rolls, strawberries and blue seedless grapes, sweet, ripe figs, an assortment of breads and dipping oils, cannolis, a Chianti punch and, of course, Italian Wedding Soup. which, by the way, stole the show. The tables were clad in red-checkered cloths, and topped with half-burnt candles in Chianti bottles. The bottles themselves were particularly special because I searched eBay for months and paid a small fortune for ones that were dated 1971 and 1972, the years that Deirdre and Lee were together. Photographs of Florentina's hung on the walls. A fanciful wine-themed fabric separated the dining room from the kitchen, and heart-shaped balloons floated from my mailbox. A movie placard from Soldier of Fortune decorated my study, as did a double-heart shaped rug and a four-foot poster, which was shamelessly self-promoting. And, of course, Frank Sinatra was there, singing the soundtrack in the background, from my iPod.
But perhaps the most stunning bit of perfection was the cottage facade, erected on my front porch by Pat and Vance and Jill and Jeff, and Arthur, and through which my guests departed reality and entered the world of Deirdre and Lee. The only thing missing was the 'FOR RENT. INQUIRE AT SINGER'S.' sign, which my dear friend, Tom, who was the first to arrive, pointed out, giving me just enough time to scrawl one on a poster board and hang it on the door.
The surprises I teased in earlier blogs included special awards for set design for Pat and Vance and Jill and Jeff, and for everyone: prototype coffee mugs with the titles of Dear Heart and Sweet Heart in signature hearts, glassware etched with my double heart logo and Limoges trinket boxes inscribed Dear Heart, which I found on eBay a year ago and paid way too much for, inside of which were double-heart necklaces for the women and St. Raphael medals on chains for the men.
There was a Power Point presentation of all of the characters as I cast them for the movie, and as a special treat, my Dear Heart "story-board" notebook was on display for everyone to leaf through to see how Dear Heart came to life. My beloved silver ring, with two garnet stones, one larger than the other, set in the center of a carved, leaf-shaped band was also on display -- but on my finger, since I rarely take it off. And presiding over it all was the best photograph ever taken of my friend, John Singer, who regrettably died just one short month before Dear Heart was finished.
Of all of the wonderful things that happened that day, which are far too numerous to mention, my very favorite part was sitting around listening to my friends as they discussed the book, and answering their questions about the back story of the plot. By now you all know that I could talk about Dear Heart and it's companion book, Sweet Heart, until the earth implodes, so it will be no surprise that I was in hog heaven while that was going on.
After everyone left, Arthur, who was exhausted, went off to take a nap, but I sat in my study, sipping a bowl of Italian Wedding Soup -- my first food of the day, and savoring the moment. If I live to be a thousand, I highly doubt that anything could top this -- not even the premiere of the movie, which some of my friends are already picking out red-carpet gowns and tuxes for.
Of course I took photographs to memorialize the moment, and I thought I'd share a few with you so you can experience the same joy we all felt as we celebrated the story of Deirdre and Lee (who was named Hartley at birth) -- DEIR HART, which became for all time, my beloved book, Dear Heart.
Click on any image to start the slideshow, then enter the world of Deirdre and Lee.