By Malena Lott
John Edwards actually did a nice set-up for my blog entry today. Convincing the country that no matter how cute your face, eloquent your speech, big your bank account, happy you seem to be in your marriage to your smart wife, you can still screw things up for yourself - literally. Marital infidelity may well be the best example of sin immune to race, age or income bracket.
You see, in my November novel Dating da Vinci, my protagonist Ramona believes her late husband may have been unfaithful before he died – with his ex fiancée who broke his heart just before he hooked up with Ramona. That he may not have been completely “over” her. It doesn’t help that Monica is a gorgeous, powerful attorney.
Ramona decides she can’t completely move on until she knows the truth about Joel and Monica: why their engagement was broken off and if Joel cheated, since he was the architect on the new law firm where Monica was a partner and was spending a lot of time with her.
To make matters worse, Ramona stumbles on some research while finishing her dissertation on the language of love that says humans are actually not biologically built for fidelity. Only one mammal mates for life: the vole, a type of rodent. So that rat is monogamous and our men are rats? Nice.
So in the end, fidelity is a choice – which makes it even sweeter if a man or woman doesn’t give in to temptation and stray. It also explains why so many novels, magazine articles, self-help books and movies and songs cover the topic. Right now the biggest star from Oklahoma, Carrie Underwood, did pretty darn well for herself singing about it in, “Before He Cheats.” At least we like the idea of her taking a bat to the scumbag’s car a lot better than the common 1950s response – turning our pretty little coiffed heads in denial.
Some agents and editors get tired of infidelity in stories because it’s been done and done and done. But social mores are dealt with differently from culture to culture, from decade to decade, from person to person. So psychologically speaking, the same topic could be dealt with in hundreds of unique ways, producing unique story lines. Case in point: I just read (and loved) My Husband’s Sweethearts, by Bridget Asher, about a woman who meets her husband’s former mistresses and “sweethearts” while he’s on his deathbed. It’s a great story with a unique premise, and, to boot, Julia Roberts is set to star in the movie on the big screen.
And the way I did it – dealing with infidelity after the cheater-in-question is already deceased. Ultimately we want to know – what were the depths of our love, the level of commitment? And in books, we can solve a piece of that puzzle.
What books or movies have included the topic of infidelity that you especially (I hate to say it) enjoyed?