Good morning, dear readers!
As a Michigander myself, I jumped at the chance to welcome a fellow writer from our Great Lakes state to the blog today. Susan Sage has published three novels: Insominy (2015), A Mentor and Her Muse (2017), and Dancing in the Ring (2023), from which she shares an excerpt with us today. This story takes place in the tumultuous years between World Wars, so if you loved Luminous, check it out!
An Excerpt from Dancing in the Ring
Guest Post by Susan Sage
“Robert, dear, your pacing is riling up our dead,” his mother said, referring to their lost loved ones. She often made similar comments: “Your cursing is waking up our dead,” or “Your bad mood is disturbing our dead.” It was a way to manipulate his behavior, and it wasn’t unusual for her to converse with them — especially when she thought he might be listening.
“Ma, for the love of Pete, will you please stop with the blarney? Catherine’s over an hour late and I can’t wait forever. If you recall, I’ve got a big match tomorrow.”
“Of course, I remember, Bobby,” she said, softening her tone. Ever since she’d been home from the hospital, she’d seemed more forgetful. “But I don’t see why you can’t open a law book without her at your side. How are you ever going to be a lawyer if you don’t put in the work?”
“Don’t you worry about that, Ma,
I’ve always done okay in school, or did you forget that, too?”
She looked as if she’d been slapped.
“Now, Robert Edwardo, you know I think there’s no one smarter than my sons, but time to wind your neck in,” she said, rising with some difficulty from her overstuffed chair.
Catherine once asked him why Nana had chosen ‘Edwardo’ as his middle name and he shrugged, saying he had no idea, though his mother had always gotten a secretive little smile on her lips when asked. No doubt an actor’s name, as Nana had always loved the stage.
From a poor family in the Detroit neighborhood of Corktown, Catherine learned early on, the necessity of being resilient. She becomes one of the first women in Detroit to obtain a law degree. Bob, the ‘battling barrister,’ boxes in order to pay for law school. Despite his gruff and tough - boy personality, my great uncle Bob was a friend to all: judges, cops, and even a couple members of the notorious Purple Gang. The couple becomes legendary in legal circles for their commitment to social justice causes – as well as notorious in the local speakeasies and dancehalls.
At first, their optimism seems boundless, as it had for so many following an era of trauma and challenges that include the 1918 flu pandemic. It isn’t long before their passionate courtship turns into a tempestuous marriage. Then the Great Depression hits and their lives are forever changed.