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Susan Reynolds

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    Nonfiction author and novel editor, have written, or edited more than 45 books.

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  1. 1. Story Statement After a soldier she’d just met at the Nashville USO Club rapes her, 18-year-old farmgirl Grace Pennington flees to Oak Ridge to work on a top-secret project. Promiscuity soon leads to pregnancy. Desperate, Grace chooses the older, more mature Royal DuPriest as the father. When he abandons a fiancée back home to marry her, Grace fully commits. Over the next 7 years, as Royal drinks to excess and bankrupts his business, young Grace reluctantly bears 5 children. When Royal dries out, they move to Pennsylvania where Grace feels isolated, but happy—until her first, favorite child, Gloria, gets cancer. With Royal now overdosing on prescription painkillers and disappearing into hospitals for months, Grace fights to keep her family afloat. After Gloria dies, Grace falls for her married boss and begins staying out all night, drinking heavily. During an argument, Royal accuses Grace of being a terrible mother, and she tells him that Gloria was not his child—and that she knew all along—which sends him into a drunken, blinding fury. 2. Sketch of Antagonist Royal DuPriest grew up a dirt farmer in southwest Georgia, quitting school after eighth grade to support his family. While serving as a Seabee during World War II, he developed severe ulcers and almost died in a South Pacific jungle. After doctors patch his stomach back together, Royal heads to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Now 29 and engaged to a girl back home, he falls for a beautiful 19-year-old farmgirl he meets in Oak Ridge. When Grace tells Royal that she’s pregnant and that it’s his child, he dutifully marries her, which infuriates his family. After the war, they move back to Georgia, where Royal descends into alcoholism. Though he finally stops drinking, after barely being present as a husband or father, he bankrupts his business and leaves his family to find work. Feeling burdened by his growing family, Royal is often domineering and occasionally abusive; he expects his young wife to endure bad situations and hold the family together, virtually on her own. When their oldest daughter—and favorite child—gets cancer, the narcissistic Royal overdoses repeatedly on prescription drugs, again leaving his wife to deal with everything. Despite his drug addiction, his ongoing depression and multiple suicide attempts—because he married her when she most needed him—Grace feels duty-bound to the marriage. After their daughter dies, however, she begins multiple affairs that eventually drive Royal to the brink of murder. ______ Grace DuPriest (Pennington) is her own antagonist. Her desire for adventure at an early age, conflicted feelings, deep insecurity, promiscuity, and bad choices lead to getting pregnant at age nineteen, with multiple candidates for father. She chooses an older man that she thinks will make a good father, but it leads to a disastrous marriage to an alternately ineffectual alcoholic who constantly abandons her. Throughout their life together, she dutifully cares for her husband and children, but rarely feels capable, or appropriately loving. Growing feelings of resentment and despair, particularly as her husband descends into alcoholism and later prescription drug addictions, make her withdraw further into her shell. Still, compelled by her desire to be the type of woman her parents expect her to be, Grace remains in the marriage. When her favorite child gets cancer, and her husband abandons her, yet again, Grace grows a steely exterior. She hides her unhappiness from everyone—her children, her parents, her neighbors—and soldiers through, though she is drinking alone at night, in her room. After her daughter dies, Grace falls in love with her married boss, begins an affair, starts to drink heavily, and pulls away from her marriage and her children, who flounder without their mother. Even when her entire world crashes down, Grace makes fatal choices that lead to her ultimate demise. 3. Three Breakout Titles The Captive Mother The Devious Wife The Unlived Life Wrong Pursuits When Lies Prevail 4. Comparable Titles · Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart - Grove Press; 448 pages; (February 11, 2020) Story of a late-stage alcoholic mother, from the child’s perspective. My story is from the mother’s perspective and shows her slow decline. · An American Marriage, Tayari Jones - Algonquin Books; 336 pages; Reprint edition (February 5, 2019) Story of a disastrous marriage due to husband’s failings. My story also has a disastrous marriage due to husband’s failings. · Home, Marilynn Robinson - Picador Paper; 336 pages; Reissue edition (August 4, 2020) Story about a man’s alcoholic despair and how it affects his family. Very interior, focused on the family home. My story is also about alcoholics and family despair. Also very interior and focused on the family home. · Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls - Scribner Book Company; 288 pages; 1st edition (January 1, 2006) Her memoir is from the daughter’s perspective, and her parents are insane. My story is from the mother’s perspective. Grace is not insane, but both she and her husband are selfish, dysfunctional, and alcoholic. · Irreparable: Three Lives. Two Deaths. One Story That Has to Be Told, Mark Gerardot - Green Heart Books; 373 pages; (March 31, 2020) Memoir about a long, very dysfunctional marriage than leads to love affairs and murder. My story is also about a very dysfunctional marriage that leads to love affairs, and almost leads to murder. 5. Hook line: What happens when a reluctant mother of five feels trapped in a disastrous, alcoholic marriage and her favorite child gets cancer. 6. Conflict Primary Conflicts Grace Pennington is a war with her own desires, first for admiration and adventure, then for married happiness, both of which lead to disastrous choices and perilous circumstances she is constantly struggling to overcome. Never wanting to be a mother, she ends up with five children under the age of seven; always wanting to be happily married, she chooses an ineffectual alcoholic who constantly disappoints and abandons her. Determined to be the woman her parents raised her to be, bound by a sense of duty to the man she married, Grace reluctantly stays in a marriage that will never fulfill her basic needs. The ongoing marital turmoil Grace both endures and later creates; as well as the conflict between her desire to fulfill her duties as an adequate mother and her feelings of suffocation create constant conflict. She’s both a reluctant wife and a reluctant mother, which constantly leaves her feeling like an inadequate failure. Deep resentment and her own inability to love, even herself, leads to Grace’s demise. Inner conflicts your protagonist will have · Grace wants adventure and a career, but she gets pregnant at age nineteen and feels compelled to marry and have the baby. · Grace’s parents raised her to be the ideal wife and mother, but she chafes at the bit, feels disappointed in marriage and overwhelmed and encumbered by motherhood. · Grace knows she is supposed to love her children, but she finds them a burden. She feels trapped. Only Gloria is her darling. · Grace feels like a failure for failing to achieve her parent’s standards. · Grace feels compelled to trust Royal’s doctors, but she blames them for supporting her husband’s addictions and resents them placing blame on her for his continuing depression. Sketch: Raised by salt of the earth parents to remain a “good girl” until marriage, Grace can’t resist the soldiers and sailors headed to war. When she ends up pregnant, and doesn’t know who the father is, she chooses the most mature man and tells him she’s been faithful to him, leading him to abandon a fiancée back home to marry her. Whatever guilt she feels must remain hidden. Secondary conflict in the social environment · Primary Ongoing Conflict with her husband about his drinking, his drug addictions, separate bedrooms, her wanting a divorce and his determination to hang on, his accusations that she’s a bad mother. Their failed relationship, constant fighting, and her cheating leads to a dramatic, violent climax. · Conflict with Lila, her youngest daughter, who rejects her mother’s advice yet seems vulnerable to following in her mother’s undesirable footsteps. She becomes rebellious, tells her mother she never wants to get married, criticizes her mother’s choices, and constantly confronts her mother about her drinking. · Conflict with his doctors, who provide drugs despite obvious overuse, and who blame Grace far more than she thinks she deserves for Royal’s problems. · Conflict with neighbors who ask too many questions about Royal’s constant disappearances make Grace feel ashamed. · Conflict with her parents who want her to keep up appearances, to always do the right thing, to stay strong, and to stay married. Sketch: Pregnant with her fourth child in five years, knowing her husband would not agree, Grace secretly wishes the baby would abort. After a car strikes her to the ground, she spends the night hoping her wish will come true; but the baby survives and when she’s an infant, Grace is neglectful to the point of malnourishment. When Lila is three, Grace inadvertently spills hot grease, burning and permanently scarring the same, unwanted child’s entire right leg. 7. Settings The story begins at a USO club in Nashville, TN, bustling with soldiers and sailors either on leave or headed off to war. It’s 1943, and eighteen-year-old Grace Pennington finally feels attractive and is flirting with young men, letting them more aggressive than is wise. When she’s raped by a soldier she just met, Grace flees to Oakridge, TN to work on a top-secret government project. Oakridge, TN: The industrial complex is under massive construction, with muddy streets, and pop-up buildings, including massive factories. Grace and “Big Sister” Virginia settle into a large dormitory, bustling with pretty girls. A busy Cafeteria, a dark Skating Rink booming with loud music, and an always-crowded Post Office all play a role in Grace’s romantic endeavors. She’s now promiscuous and soon pregnant. She chooses her oldest, most mature suitor, tells him he’s the father, that she has been faithful only to him. They travel to Georgia to marry and meet his family, then settle in a house with another family in cramped two-story house in Knoxville. Camilla, Georgia: A speck of a town in southwest Georgia. It’s hot, dusty, looks like the Great Depression never ended. Royal and Grace now live in tiny two-bedroom, run-down house located next to a dilapidated railroad yard. Like the house, the yard is unkempt, filled with weeds, and they have few neighbors. They have little furniture, only one double bed for all three children, a wicker bassinet, a bed for them, a soiled couch, and a small wooden table with four chairs. They have three small children and Grace is pregnant again. It’s hot, sticky, and too close to Royal’s family for her comfort. Royal is drinking heavily, and they fight often. Children in tow, Grace is often trolling bars, looking for Royal. When she’s pregnant with baby #5, Grace begs Royal to stop drinking and he finally does. Scenes happen in various bars, a church parking lot, a library, a doctor’s office, as well as at the home. Paris, TN: The Pennington farm. Old, crumbling wooden house, with surrounding barns that are also wooden and failing. The outside is farmland, tobacco fields, with chicken coops, a smokehouse, and a large garden. The inside is cozy, filled with farmhouse quilts and rocking chairs. It’s homey, comfortable, and inviting. Grace goes there to ask her father’s permission to move to Oak Ridge; and later they all visit on vacation, where Gloria is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Albany, Georgia: A brand-new, cheerfully green, one-story ranch house in a brand-new neighborhood. Their house is one of the first in the new complex, surrounded by empty lots and construction, but Grace is thrilled with its three bedrooms, hardwood floors, and modern fixtures. Royal has his own business working as an electrician, and they are able to buy brand-new furniture, including beds for everyone. They are finally living the modern, suburban life Grace anticipated, and life looks good, until Royal’s business fails, and he travels north to find work, leaving Grace alone with five children. After nine months apart, they sell Grace’s dreamhouse and move north, far from all family. Scenes take place at their home and his parent’s General Store/home. Manorville, PA. Western Pennsylvania, an hour north of Pittsburgh, near a sprawling power plant where Royal finds work. They settle into a rented, run-down house built in 1860, with peeling wallpaper, crumbling ceilings, one and half baths, and a coal furnace. Though spacious, it’s old, creaky, and has train tracks a block away, with trains that rumble through regularly, rattling all their windows. The neighborhood is all lower-middle class families, which makes the children happy, but disappoints Grace. She does her best to spruce up the house, but it’s constantly falling apart. Most scenes take place in the house, which is alternately happy and bright, or dark and dreary, dependent on what is happening. It’s located on the banks of the Allegheny River, across from one of Pennsylvania’s rolling hills (that remind her of home) so at least she has beautiful views. Scenes take place in various rooms of the house, the next-door neighbor’s house, and outside. Various Hospitals: Sterile, harsh lighting, long corridors and crowded waiting rooms, teeming with people (which irritates Grace). Royal becomes dependent on prescription pills and bounces in and out of local and Pittsburgh’s Veteran’s Hospital. When Gloria gets cancer, she’s in the Memphis hospital (they were on vacation at Grace’s parents’ home), then later Grace is often at the local Kittanning, PA hospital with Royal or Gloria. Grace attends therapy sessions in a brightly lit office with Royal and his psychiatrist at the Veteran’s Hospital. Kittanning, PA. Office/Bars/Motels: It’s a second-story office with large windows, three desks in one room and the boss’s office. The bars are dark, moody, with a 1950s vibe (though it’s now the 1970s); the motels are new, modern chains, sparsely furnished but quite nice. This is where Grace will rendezvous with her married boss. Europe: Grace goes on a ten-day trip to Europe with her married lover. They visit Amsterdam, Strasbourg, and Paris, which involves beautiful hotels, tourist sites, cathedrals, and the Louvre Museum. Scene-by-Scene USO Club, Nashville, TN 1943: loud music, smokey atmosphere, boys headed off to war, dressed-up girls dancing and flirting with them. Grace, her cousins, and her sister meet, dance, and then leave with young soldiers. A tree-lined park just outside Nashville: Moonlit night, they are the only two around, a parked car. He overwhelms Grace, pushes her into the backseat and rapes her. A boarding House in Nashville: Lots of young girls, bustling atmosphere. Grace returns, avoids talking to anyone, baths, cries, crawls into bed, cries. The Pennington farm in Cottage Grove, TN: Old wooden house, surrounding barns, cozy but not plush, a real sense of home. Grace asks her strict father for permission to work at Oak Ridge. A 1940’s bus: Full of farm girls headed to Oak Ridge, TN to work on a top-secret government project. A man in uniform tells them what to expect, tells them that this project is extremely important and top-secret, warns them about importance for secrecy—even from family. Oak Ridge, TN Administration Building: Bustling with lots of curious female recruits. Man in uniform explains the new rules they will live by. Dormitory, Oak Ridge: On the way, Big Sister and Grace see signs about importance of keeping secrets. At the dorm, lots of girls carrying suitcases looking for their new quarters. Grace and her sister find their sparse room and settle in. Skating Rink, Oakridge, TN: Dark, Glenn Miller songs at full blast, couples skating, girls gathered in groups, watching as men arrive and ask them to dance. Grace and Royal meet for the first time. He walks her home. Small Nightclub, Knoxville, TN: Frank Sinatra plays while Grace and Royal dine, dance, fall in love. Motel, Knoxville, TN: Small, but tidy, very intimate. Grace and Royal have sex for the first time. He tells her about his war wounds. Cafeteria, Oak Ridge: Bright, noisy, filled with people at 3 a.m. Royal shows up to treat Grace and Big Sister to pie and milk. Motel, Knoxville: Small, but tidy. After they make love, Royal tells Grace that he has a fiancée back in Georgia, and they argue. Oak Ridge Grounds: Grace is pining for Royal, who drove home to Georgia, where he’ll see his fiancée. She walks to the post office, looking for mail, then meets a former lover at the dormitory lounge, then has sex in his car. Skating Rink, Oak Ridge: Loud music, crowds of men looking for women. A drunken Grace dances with various men, leaves to have sex with a few of them. During day, she haunts the post office, hoping to hear from Royal. Dormitory Bathroom, Oak Ridge: Girls circle in and out while Grace throws up in a private stall. She goes back to her room and Big Sister asks if she’s pregnant. Hospital Oak Ridge: More than ten girls are lined up waiting for appointments. A disapproving doctor confirms that Grace is pregnant. She tells him she’s engaged, but she’s not—and she doesn’t know who the father is. Dormitory Grounds: Long lines of people outside the Post Office, hoping for mail. Grace finally finds a letter from Royal. Dormitory Lounge: Bustling with girls. Royal returns, they embrace, she races upstairs to change, and they leave to take a drive in the rain. Grace tells Royal she’s pregnant. Dormitory Lounge/Cafeteria/Grounds outside Cafeteria: Royal comes to pick up Grace, then walk towards the cafeteria in a thunderstorm; just as they arrive, he asks her if the baby is his. They stand arguing in the rain. She tells him she has been faithful. Dormitory/Car: Grace packs her bags and she and Royal drive towards Georgia to get married. Dalton, GA: Small, country town, surrounded by beautiful hills. Royal and Grace get their marriage license and pick out rings. Justice of the Peace, quaint house, Dalton, GA: Royal and Grace get married with only the justice and his wife present. Car on the way to Cordele, GA: Royal forewarns Grace that his family might be hostile. Cordele, GA/Family Home/General Store/house: Cement block structure, surrounded by sparse pine trees. A new world for Grace. Royal’s six siblings rush out to greet them, overwhelming Grace. Interior DuPriest House: Small, tight, plain rooms, old kitchen, women crowded in, cooking, and talking. Grace and Royal’s feisty sister Sarah argue about Royal’s fiancée. Royal tells his family he and Grace are already married. Two-story House in Knoxville: Grace and Royal have moved in with a family; Grace is at the kitchen table, at sunset, alone, brooding, feeling lost now that she’s married, pregnant, and often alone. Knoxville, Hospital: Small room, dim lighting. A doctor and nurse are in the room. Grace gives birth to Gloria, with only the doctor and nurse present. Royal shows up later, drunk, but happy. Knoxville House: Various scenes of Royal and Grace fussing over Gloria. Grace and Royal making love. Grace realizing that Royal may not make her happy. Knoxville Butcher Shop: Crowded with people waving coupons, trying to buy what little meat is available. While Grace is there, the radio announcer declares the end of the war. Everyone cheers and hugs each other. The announce reveals the Oak Ridge developed an atom bomb that ended the war, Grace tells everyone that she worked there, and then rushes home to celebrate. Tiny two-bedroom house in Camilla, GA: Next to a railroad yard, old, crumbling house, unruly yard, surrounded by weeds. Grace loads her three small children in her car and drives them to their grandmother’s house. Albany, GA Library: Small, deserted, one old librarian, peering over her glasses. Five months pregnant, Grace searches for a book about natural abortion. Church parking lot, Albany, GA: A jumble of cars competing to leave. Just as she’s getting in their car, an old man hits their bumper, sending Grace to the ground. Royal and the man argue, while Grace is secretly delighted. She hopes this will abort the baby. Camilla, GA Hospital: New hospital, but a sparse, empty room, with only one nurse wandering in and out while Grace endures a long labor and gives birth. Her drunken husband shows up later. Country Doctor’s Office, Camilla: An elderly doctor in a small, cramped office. The new baby is sick, and the doctor blames Grace. Two days later, she, Royal, and the children arrive. The doctor tells them that the baby has rickets and accuses them of neglect. Camilla House: Though lit with sunlight, it’s messy, cluttered, claustrophobic. Grace orders Gloria to take her younger siblings outside so Grace can be alone. Seedy Bar near Albany: Dark, noisy, smokey, sound of clattering pool balls, men talking. Grace sends Alex, her four-year-old son in to look for his father, who ignores his son’s pleas to leave. Grace then enters and begs Royal to come home. Camilla House, Bathroom: Small bathroom, cold tiles. Grace is on her knees praying and crying. Royal comes in and crouches beside her, promises to stop drinking. Their Bedroom: Small, cramped, clothes strewn everywhere. Grace tells Royal that this will be their last child and they argue. Camilla House, Kitchen: Small cramped kitchen with old appliances. The children are running around as Grace pan fries chicken. Lila, the second youngest, climbs on a chair beside her and Grace spills hot grease down her leg. Camilla Hospital, Waiting Room: The children line up on a bench while Grace and Royal pace, worrying as they wait. The doctor comes out and asks probing questions that embarrass Grace. They get to tiptoe in and see their three-year old daughter’s bandaged leg. Their Bedroom: Dark, quiet, Grace and Royal argue. Their Bathroom: The sound of kids playing in the background. Grace bathes Lila’s leg, weeping. Albany, GA/church/brand 3-bedroom new house in a brand-new neighborhood: Royal serves as a Deacon at the Baptist church, and they finally buy a brand-new house that they fill with new furniture. Grace dresses for her new job; a Negro maid arrives to the children’s delight. They are happy—until Royal’s business goes bust. Ford City, PA, small hotel room: Manufacturing town, past its prime. Plain, small, sparsely furnished. Royal arrives and settles in. He’s found a job at a power plant. Two-story house, Manorville, PA: Built in 1860, crumbling, on the banks of Allegheny River, in a small town of similar old houses. A train track nearby delivers regularly scheduled trains with bleating horns. They also rattle the entire house. After nine months apart, the family moves in. Scenes of happier days. Interior Car: 1958 Mercury, four kids lined up in back, Royal, Gloria, Grace in front, windows down, radio blaring. They family leaves on vacation. Sixteen-year-old Gloria complains of nausea and headache, which she’d been doing for weeks. Pennington Farm: Sunny, warm, happy atmosphere. The children are running around outside. Gloria gets sicker. Her aunt, a nurse, tells Grace she should take Gloria to Memphis for tests. Memphis Hospital, Waiting Room: Sterile, quiet, late night. A doctor tells Royal and Grace that Gloria has a brain tumor and needs an operation. Royal collapses, gets sedated, sleeps while Grace waits, prays in the chapel, calls her father in tears. Manorville House: Hospital bed in the living room, a rocking chair, one small, black & white TV flickering. Royal comes home from work a mess, having a meltdown, addicted to drugs. He goes up to their bedroom and stays there for days. A friend comes and drives him to the Veteran’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. Manorville House, Kitchen: Large, sun-filled, painted bright yellow. Grace sits alone at the Formica table, reading the newspaper. She sees an article about a six-year-old girl in Hiroshima who survived the bomb, and she feels a wash of guilt for her role in creating the bomb. She puts the article in her family Bible. Manorville House, Living Room: Dark, night, house is quiet. Grace hears Gloria having a seizure. Grace calls out and the children come running, then Royal. An ambulance arrives to take Gloria to the hospital. Manorville House Kitchen: Bright, sunny. The house is quiet. Royal and Grace argue, the children arrive one-by-one and rush upstairs to avoid their parents. Kittanning Hospital parking lot: Daytime, bustling. Grace arrives to pick up Gloria. The family doctor knocks on her window, and they talk in the car. Grace is angry that he failed to diagnose Gloria and gives Royal too many pills. This time she doesn’t hide her hostility. Interior Hospital: Grace picks up a happy Gloria, which is the opposite of how she feels. Grace’s Bedroom: Neat, but crowded with furniture, a sewing machine. She sits alone, trying to conjure reasons to be happy, clasps her Bible, prays for a miracle. Manorville Kitchen: Dusk, darkening sky. Grace return home to find Lila has broken her ankle. Grace and Royal argue. Downstairs Hallway: Completely dark until Grace flips a light on and rushes downstairs. Lila is on the ground crying. She’d bumped the doorframe and screamed in pain. Everyone comes down. Grace and Royal argue, and he pushes her, sending her tumbling over Lila. Upstairs, Royal’s Bedroom: Formerly Gloria’s bedroom, a small room, only a bed and dresser. Royal is comatose. Grace discovers him and oldest son Alex call an ambulance. Manorville Exterior: The sun is rising over the river; everything looks golden. Grace sees her neighbors waving to her as the ambulance driver keeps asking her if it was a suicide attempt. She is angry, mortified. Downstairs bathroom: Crowded with washer, dryer, and toilet. Stacks of dirty clothing surround the toilet. Grace sits on the toilet crying. Alex, her oldest son, lures her out and tries to comfort her. Kittanning Hospital: Busy morning, people streaming past. Grace and Lila run into the doctor, but Grace forbids him to discuss Royal with her. While Lila is getting an X-ray, the doctor tells Grace that Royal needs an extended stay at the Veteran’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. She tells the doctor that she has her hands full, and Royal is on his own. Manorville House: Bright, sunny. Grace and the children are happy. The doctor comes by with papers for Grace to sign, committing Royal for treatment. Welfare Office: Lines of people, poorly dressed. An embarrassed and chagrined Grace is there to sign up for welfare and takes home boxes of groceries. Landlord’s House, Manorville: Big, two-story white frame house, with sprawling lawn. It’s only three blocks from their house and represents everything Grace thought she might have one day. She tells their landlord that her husband is still hospitalized and that she will pay rent as she can. He’s so understanding, she feels humiliated. Manorville House: Sunny. Grace’s parents are coming for a visit, so she and the kids madly clean the house and prepare. Grace instructs her children to hide their real situation and “put on a happy face.” Manorville yard: Large, a stone well just off the porch, a stone barbeque in the backyard, a garage at the end of the drive. Grace’s parents arrive to jubilation. Manorville Kitchen: Sunny, bright, breakfast dishes on the table. Grace’s father probes for more information, she lies to him, tells him they are financially stable; he tells her that she must stick by her husband, fight for her marriage. Manorville House: Dark, cold day. Grace and Lila are there with Gloria. A debt collector comes to demand money but sees Gloria in her hospital bed and leaves. Grace’s Bedroom: Bright, sunny. Lila and Heather drag home an Avon box filled with samples, which they happily sample. Neighbor’s House: More orderly and cheerful than Grace’s house. Grace goes next-door for her first try at selling Avon. Though the elderly Dorothy is very polite, Grace feels shy, as if she should be embarrassed. She doesn’t like talking about Gloria’s illness. She balks at sympathy. Neighbor’s House: A young mother’s house, unkempt, kids running around everywhere. This neighbor is nosier than Dorothy and asks blunt questions about Royal being gone for eight months that send Grace home with a headache. Pittsburgh Veteran’s Hospital: Long, sterile corridor, and a sparse, bright office. Dr. Wainwright talks with Grace, who gets defensive when he implies that she could do more to support her husband. He tells her that Royal had “emotional problems” during the war, which was a surprise to her. Royal comes in and he and Grace reconnect in an unexpected way. Manorville House, holidays: Dark, cold. Royal had come home for Thanksgiving, but soon relapsed and disappeared again. The children are worried about Christmas and Grace puts on a happy face, does her best to make their house festive. Manorville House, Christmas Eve: Tree is up, lights are flashing. Royal comes home unexpectedly, looking healthy and strong. Grace and Royal have sex for the first time in a year. Manorville House, New Year’s Day: Early morning. Clearly drugged, Royal stumbles and falls; Grace takes him to the Kittanning Hospital. She and Alex talk on the back porch about how they are going to survive. Manorville House: Spring, green yard, flowering bushes. Royal comes home and Grace ushers him into Gloria’s old bedroom; they squabble but agree to be civil, while sleeping separately, because the family desperately needs Royal’s income. Living Room: Nighttime, all is quiet. Grace crawls into bed with Gloria, who pleads with her mother not to let her die. Living Room: Dawn, December morning. Gloria has yet another convulsion and dies. Grace and the children surround her bed, decide what to do. The undertaker comes to take her away. Heather and Lila clean up everything while Grace rests. Kitchen: Late afternoon. Royal comes home for work and finds all the children in the kitchen. When they tell him Gloria died, he takes a handful of pills and goes upstairs to talk with Grace. Kitchen: Neighbors fill every room downstairs. With supportive relatives afoot, post funeral, the children feel optimistic that their lives may finally improve. Office: Bright, sunny, big windows in an upstairs office. Grace has taken a job, shares an office with two other women; she’s immediately finds her handsome, attentive boss quite charming. Kitchen: Overcast, evening. Grace and Lila are cooking dinner and argue about the Vietnam War, politics. Alex is in the Naval Reserves, policing in DaNang. Lila is against the war and Grace doesn’t like her attitude. When Lila mentions her role in building the atomic bomb comes up, it triggers Grace’s guilt. Allegheny Riverbank: Summer, early evening. Heather is off to college and Grace’s boss has offered the family a motorboat and water skis at a price they could afford. Doug and Lila drive it home from Kittanning, and Doug and Royal build a dock to house it. The children have never been happier. Neighborhood Exterior: Sunny summer day. Grace, Heather, and Lila go bike riding. Grace loses control and crashes into a tree, banging herself up badly. When they come home, Royal is angry. Office: Early morning. When Grace shows up battered, her boss, Eddie, assumes Royal beat her up. They go out for a drink after work, and he makes a move that lets her know he is interested in her romantically. Back Porch Manorville House: Evening, sunset turns sky pink. Grace sees Lila with Joey, one of Doug’s friends and fellow band members. She worries that they’re dating, but Heather says “no.” Manorville House: Dark, night. Grace confronts Lila about Joey, and she reveals that they are dating; however, she tells Grace she has “zero” interest in marriage, cites her mother’s bad marriage as the primary reason. Grace is heartbroken, but still doesn’t want them involved. She watches Lila like a hawk. Grace’s bedroom: Dark, night. Heather tells Grace that she wants to go to airline school. Grace sobs, experiencing a similar grief to what she felt after Gloria died. Interior Car/Pittsburgh Airport: Grace and Lila drive Heather to the airport and see her off. They go shopping afterwards and have a brief bonding moment. Grace’s bedroom. Dimly lit. Grace finds Lila and Joey being intimate—on her bed—and throws a fit. Doctor Jameson’s office: Wood paneled room, just a desk and two chairs. Dr. Jameson asks Lila if she’s having sex, and she stands up for herself, furiously brings up the fact her mother is overreacting out of terror she’ll end up like her—miserably married—shocking the doctor, and her mother. Motel Room, Kittanning: Nice, modern room. Grace and her lover Eddie have sex, drink to excess. Roadside, Kittanning: Dark, cold, middle of night. Grace swerves off the road and rolls her car over three times, the police and an ambulance arrive. Hospital Room: Two nurses are discussing Grace’s condition. Badly bruised and sore, Grace is otherwise fine. Royal shows up, clearly furious, confronts Grace about her excessive drinking. Grace’s Bedroom: Two lamps on dresser create soft, dim light. Lila slowly picks glass shards from her mother’s teased hair, and they share an intimate moment. Grace’s Bedroom: Mid-day, sunlight streaming in windows. Royal angrily confronts Grace about her drinking. Accuses her of failing her children. Dining Room: Family is gathered for dinner. Grace announces that Eddie is paying for her to travel to Europe for ten days. Lila and Doug are happy; Royal is furious. Amsterdam, Park Hotel: More grand that anything Grace has ever seen. She has landed in an entirely new, highly desirable world. Eddie is waiting for her in the bar, then they go to their luxurious room to have sex. She tells Eddie she’s never had an orgasm and he makes sure she does. Streets of Amsterdam: Grace and Eddie stroll through Amsterdam, stopping for lunch and dinner. Strasbourg: Grace and Eddie arrive and stroll through Strasbourg, going to Cathedral Notre Dame and other sights. Bus heading to Paris: Mid-day, gorgeous scenery outside. Grace tells Eddie about Gloria’s illness and how she suffered for more than two years, watching her favorite child die. They share a tender moment. Paris, Small Boutique Hotel in the Latin Quarter: Grace and Eddie stroll around Paris, hitting all the major sites. Louvre Museum, Interior: Grace and Eddie view and discuss art. Latin Quarter, searching for Hemingway’s favorite bar on Rue Mouffetard: Grace and Eddie settle on seedy bar that may have been it and talk about Hemingway. Manorville House, Living Room: Grace arrives home to find a comatose Royal. Doug reports that his father has been downing pills the entire time she was gone. Lila’s Bedroom: Early morning, Lila is packing her suitcase. She’s leaving for New York City to stay with Heather for the summer. Lila tells Grace that she will never live in Pennsylvania again, and she has no desire to ever marry, because she never wants anything remotely resembling her mother’s life. Pittsburgh airport: Late day, just before sunset. Grace drives Lila to the airport and weeps when she leaves. Pittsburgh Veteran’s Hospital, Corridors, private office: Grace goes to see Dr. Wainwright, who tells her that she needs to let Royal go; that letting him stay in the family home is killing him. She’s long thought she had been keeping him alive, and leaves furious, without seeing Royal. Manorville House, front porch: Royal is packing to leave. Grace hands him divorce papers, and they argue. She tells him that Gloria was not his child, and he leaves heartbroken. Pittsburgh Civic Arena: Frank Sinatra concert. Home for a short visit, Lila surprised Grace with tickets. She is beyond thrilled. Motel, Kittanning: Nice, modern room. Eddie tells Grace that he is breaking off their relationship, because she professed love, and he cannot leave his wife. Grace is heartbroken. Manorville House, Thanksgiving: Everyone is home, bustling activity, joviality. Grace and her girls cook dinner. Lila probes into Grace’s dating life, but she doesn’t reveal that she’s broken off with Eddie but has a new lover. Kitchen: Just before dawn: Grace comes home to find Royal drunk, holding a loaded gun. He chases her into the yard, firing several shots, missing. Next-door neighbor’s house: Dark, all lights are off. Grace bangs on their door, enters, hides in their house until Doug comes home and convinces his father to go to the hospital. Doug returns to take his mother home. Office: Early morning, only Grace and Eddie are there. Grace tells Eddie that Royal tried to kill her, and he fires her, tells her never to come back, and to move somewhere far away. She leaves distraught. Living Room, Christmas: Lights are twinkling in the background. Lila tells Grace that she’s heading back to NYC, where she now lives and works. Grace begs her to stay for Christmas, tells her that Eddie fired her, admits that she really needs her. Lila is very unhappy with her mother’s excessive drinking and yet another married boyfriend, but she stays. Butler, PA: Grace buys a dilapidated three-story house and moves in. She and her boyfriend Paul become binge drinkers, falling further and further into drunken despair. After years of this, Lila comes home and confronts her mother, tells her that she must choose between the bottle or her children. Liquor Store, Butler: Nightfall. Grace stands in front, debating. She knows Lila is right, that she should stop drinking, but she steps inside anyway
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