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Guest blogger: Cathleen Ross

27 March 2011

Love Lust and Lies is a book dear to my heart because it’s the book that has so much of my culture in it. Women take on a large load when they marry, have kids and try to continue a career. I wanted to write a book about the juggling act that women do, but I wanted it to be more.

My husband said when he met me that he wanted to marry a woman who was like his sister and his mother. He chose well as my mother-in-law is one of my best friends, someone who I learned a lot from. She and her women friends explained to me about the “Italian marriage”. For those of you who don’t know what that means, the Italian marriage is when the husband does what he wants and the wife does what the husband wants. I realised that as the older generation dies my daughter’s generation won’t know what women in the fifties and sixties went through when raising their families.

The Italian wife is the matriarch of the family and her role is to hold that family together no matter what life throws at her. In the past it took five years before a woman could get a divorce in Italy. Divorce was a disgrace and I remember one of my mother-in-law’s friends saying, “I won’t invite a divorced woman to my table.”

Consequently, women didn’t leave their marriages. For my mother-in-law’s generation, women didn’t work outside the home because it meant that their husband was a loser who couldn’t keep a family. It also meant that they were totally dependent.

This is the background for Love, Lust and Lies but my heroine, Gabriella, doesn’t buy the unspoken rules and regulations. When she discovers that her husband, Tony, is cheating on her she fights back against her Italian-American cultural expectations that, ‘she should put up with his affair’ by throwing him out.

She shocks her culture to its roots when she has an erotic affair with a younger man who has no idea that she is 11 years older than he is. For the first time in her life, Gabriella is having plenty of sex, making money as a realtor but she doesn’t count on the impact of separating who she is from her culture.

I’m a huge fan of the television program Mad Men because I think it shows it like it was for women in the fifties. Even if you’re not from a non-Anglo culture did your mothers and grandmothers tell you what it was like for them? How did this affect you and your marriage?

Cathleen Ross

  1. 1 April 2011 12:30 pm

    Thanks Helene and Kandy for your comments. I think when we write a book from our own experiences we produce the best work. Helene it’s always hard as a mother to know when to step in and when to step back.

  2. 30 March 2011 11:06 pm

    Hi Cathleen, I love your fascinating insights into the “Italian marriage”. Love, Lust and Lies is a warm, funny, sexy book–one of your best!

  3. 30 March 2011 3:54 pm

    Thanks Barbara, Anna and Vanessa
    Vanessa that must have been very tough to keep to yourself. I like the way that our concept of divorce has changed over the generations. It was an enormous disgrace in Italian culture once. These days the number of divorced people is growing. The focus is more on helping people get over their heartbreak.
    Thank goodness for progress.

  4. Vanessa permalink
    30 March 2011 3:26 pm

    What a powerful background to Love, Lust and Lies, Cathleen. I have a non-Anglo heritage. When I was young, my parents divorced and my mother forbade me from telling my friends! (This was at the end of the ’70s/early ’80s) And being an obedient child, I didn’t confide in *anyone* about it till high school, when I finally broke down. The whole experience had a profound effect on me and how I handle relationships even today. I’m sure it’ll form the basis of a book someday!

  5. 30 March 2011 2:48 pm

    Cathleen, that’s a gorgeous photo of you! Loved the post about Love, Lust and Lies. I think cultural difference is such a rich vein for romance writers to mine – it’s so powerful, isn’t it? Good luck with your book!

  6. Barbara permalink
    30 March 2011 2:43 pm

    Hi Cathleen
    I know a few italians that this happened to in an earlier generation …..the sons could go where ever but the daughters had to stay at home….. luckily I never had to go through anything like that.

  7. 30 March 2011 2:36 pm

    That would be the Latino thing which seems the same as the Italian thing. It’s going to take time to change.
    Thanks for dropping by Lizzie and William. William, I didn’t realise that you have an Oz connection.

    • 31 March 2011 1:12 am

      Did a Circle the Pacific Cruise, and a Round the World Cruise, both of which had me in Australia. Plus, I’ve been to the Orient a few times (used to frequently vacation in Bali), and Australia was always a place to stop over. Have grown particularly fond of your outback, which I hope was reflected within my DARE TO LOVE IN OZ. And, of course, I’ve been a long-time fan of your wines, thus WILLIAM MALTESE’S WINE TASTER’S DIARY: IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT PINOT G ON AUSTRALIA’S MORNINGTON PENINSULA.

  8. 29 March 2011 1:41 am

    Cathleen. As a fellow PIPP author (AFRICA: SPICE ISLAND LOVE, Book #1 of the Seven Continent series, by Willa Lambert), I thought I’d just stop by and say hello and say how interesting I found your blogged inspiration for writing LOVE, LUST, AND LIES, especially as I’m someone who invariably writes only about single women — even back when I helped launch Harlequin’s SuperRomance line with #2 (LOVE’S EMERALD FLAME by Willa Lambert). Usually writing from experiences, I guess I’ll have to experience marriage, first, before I can ever successfully write about it. Speaking of writing from experiences, you’re from Australia, right? Not to long ago, I spent some time there, again, and enjoyed it tremendously. As a result, managed my recently released adventure/romance DARE TO LOVE IN OZ by William Maltese, from Savant Press, AND my recent WILLIAM MALTESE’S WINE TASTER’S GUIDE: IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT PINOT G! ON THE MORNINGTON PENINSULA (with your fellow Australian writer A.B. Gayle). Anyway, again, just a check-in. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your books in the PIPP line-up.

  9. 28 March 2011 10:20 pm

    Great article, Catheleen. I grew up in the South region of American and saw a lot of the same things happening. In the generations you referrenced (an the ones prior) women being told to “do as I say and don’t worry about it” seems to have been pretty muc the norm.

  10. 28 March 2011 7:55 pm

    I love heroines that ‘don’t buy’ the conventions and traditions that surround the woman’s role, either in society or a relationship. She sounds like my kinda gal.

  11. 28 March 2011 6:43 pm

    Love the premise of Love, Lust and Lies, Cathleen. I’ve always believed my mother’s generation waited until there were issues in their daughter’s marriages before they talked about their own difficulties. I may be being too harsh here but it almost seemed as though they felt we needed to make our own mistakes and learn those lessons ourselves… Then they had the wisdom to help pick up the pieces.

  12. 28 March 2011 6:05 pm

    HI Shannon
    I write these strong, impulsive heroines who throw themselves into situations then things start to unravel. At the same time it was great to write an affair seeing as I’ve never had one.

  13. 28 March 2011 10:35 am

    Hey Cathleen!

    Great insight, and what an interesting sidebar to your story’s background. It is amazing the expectations and pressure women faced in that period, and how that translates to our freedom (and restrictions, stresses, anxieties and expectations) for today’s women.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how Gabriella’s story turns out!

    Take care.
    Kind Regards

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