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Thomas Christopher Greene returns following The Headmaster's Wife (2014) with a moving epic love story—IF I FORGET YOU.
Written with lyrical poetic prose-as breathtaking as his fictional character, Henry Gold; Greene, follows a timeless forbidden love, torn apart by family, social class, wealth, lies, and secrets. Love and Loss. Second chances?
At forty-years of age, Henry Gold is not a famous poet though he has won a few awards in his younger years, and has carried over into his teaching career. He is a teacher and has an ear for other’s work; the ability to discern a musicality that certain students posses and is able to nudge them in the right direction.
The only wish he had as a kid, in his neighborhood growing up, in the West End of Providence, RI the son of immigrants-- was to be normal and Catholic like other families. He recalls his mother saying to him, “Henry Gold, don’t ever let anyone tell you: You can’t do something.”
Her words haunt him, for it is the great failing of his life. Many years ago, someone told him how to do things, and he didn’t fight like he should have. He has regrets.
Henry is in New York and sees Margot outside the Time Warner Building. He loves his New York campus. Baseball gave him this gift as a student. In his sophomore year he declares his major as English. His heart was not in baseball; however, the sport gave him the opportunity. He loves assignments, wrestling with words loves playing with structure. Each poem is a tiny puzzle to be solved.
He sees her on the street with the pigeons. She sees him. She flees in a cab, she is gone. He runs after her. The love of his life.
Margot is unhappily married to Chad. He is forty-five years old, well in his prime and still mid-level at Goldman. Her kids are grown. Alex is in third year at Wesleyan University and Emma at boarding school in Connecticut. Emma will be off to a summer camp in Maine. Alex to the city for an internship at a major publisher. Her life is at a turning point.
She comes from a wealthy family and a robust trust fund. Her parents are seasonal New Yorkers with winters in Tucson, Arizona and summers on the Vineyard. Lately Margot considers painting again. Art was the only subject she ever really liked; however, she has harbored her love of painting like a secret. Painting gives her pleasure.
Flashing back and forth from twenty-one years earlier—1991 in college, to the present 2012, we hear from Henry and Margot’s point of view. College at Bannister. Everyone knew Margot Fuller. From different social classes and walks of life. He had never met anyone rich before. Thomas Fuller, the board of trustees, her father. A tragedy. The letter. She had never met anyone like Henry.
Henry had never stopped searching for her. The idea of her, the essential memory of her, has been his one constant truth, like a poem he has committed to memory and holds always in the back of his mind. Has she been under his nose all these years?
He cannot think of anything but her. He knows only one way to love a woman and that is completely. Margot was his love. They straddle two worlds.
Henry decides the following day, he will go to Vermont. He doesn’t have class until after the weekend and the idea of his cabin is what he needs to lift his spirits. Vermont was his Polish father’s place. His mother had been born in Warsaw, grew up in Queens, and lived in Providence. He loved spending summers in the area and purchased a cabin when he turned thirty-four, after his father’s death.
He had married, now divorced after his wife Ruth’s affair. He has a nine-year old daughter, Jess. The life with Margot was cut short. From different social classes, there was an incident twenty-one years earlier. He was forced by her family to end things. He has not seen her since, until the previous day.
Margot can’t stop thinking of Henry. She has to see him. "What she does not like adulthood: every interaction seems to bring with it a history, a context, and nothing is simple."
She will find him and sees his photo on the NYU faculty page. His biography. His debut collection of poetry, Margaret, won the Yale Younger poets prize. Margot (Margaret) – for her, the dedication, “for you, wherever you are.”
Margot has never met anyone like him before. Can they go back? Choices were made. There is hurt, regret, and secrets. Can he forgive her? A weight she has been carrying. Courage to face the past in order to move forward. Is she strong enough to stand up to her family and choose the life she wants?
"If poetry is the search for significance, then the stubbornness of love must be its fullest expression."
Greene writes with passion—with stunning imagery, haunting yet beautiful lyrics; art, and romance. An emotional moving love story, and well developed characters readers will root for.
I loved Henry- he can write me a poem any day of the week! I'll take the cabin in Vermont, as well.