Today I have the pleasure to announce the long awaited release of Paulette Mahurin’s new book: “His name was Ben”.
I absolutely loved Paulette’s first book “The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap”. She responded to my positive review, I featured her with an interview and we have become good friends since, not least because of our shared love for dogs. The proceeds of Paulette’s books go to a no kill shelter in California (Link).
Now to the book: It is a beautifully written, bitter-sweet love story between two cancer patients, Ben and Sara, and really also between them and her Rottweiler dog Tazzie.
Sara, a nurse practitioner, develops an aggressive type of breast cancer, first detected by said dog, Tazzie. The story of her diagnosis and the initial treatment is full of raw emotion and written with great empathy and with amazing medical knowledge.
We also learn about her family background and the issues that have made Sara’s life not the happiest until now. Blessed with good insurance and access to a top oncologist she enters a special research programme that trials a new treatment for cancer. The drug works and increases her libido, which is why she eventually asks out a handsome fellow cancer patient named Ben.
Once the two of them embark on their untimely love affair they help each other heal and work through their personal issues: Ben’s alcoholic parents; Sara’s unhappy childhood with a controlling and critical mother, a schizophrenic brother and her divorce from ex-husband Henry.
Mahurin has chosen her characters very well and given them so much more than just bad things like cancer. Ben and Sara are both highly evolved and reflective people who have the ability to work through their problems, speak honestly with each other and develop at last a proper relationship in their life based on solid foundations – it was moving to read about it.
The other characters in the book are equally interesting and get enough coverage to add extra colour to the often humorous and certainly inspiring novel in front of you; be it Sara’s mother, the cancer doctor or the friends – not to forget the lovely Rottweiler Tazzie.
Against the biggest of obstacles a couple can face, the positive message is that it is never too late to start living. The hope that patients have attached to miracle cures and new treatment means nothing when time is only spent on the clock but does not translate into moments of shared love and happiness. Be there breakthrough studies or not, never give up on living. Amidst so much understandably tragic and miserable cancer stories here is a book that shows positive role models to look up to and to keep in mind when the unspeakable happens to you.
I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
From her Amazon Page:
All profits from The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap are going to animal rescue, the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA (Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center).
From the time I was ten year old, I’ve loved to write. While in college I wrote two award winning short stories. This encouraged me to continue to write, and write I did but never completed any of my novels due to other responsibilities: education, jobs, family, etc. After attending and receiving a Master’s Degree in the Nurse Practitioner Program at UCLA, I went to work in the second busiest emergency room in Los Angeles county. I saw and learned about things that haunted me, until bit by a tick and diagnosed with Lyme Disease (which went to my heart valves, brain, and muscular skeletal system) knocked me down and afforded me time to write and release the memories onto pages before me. I wrote, and wrote, and released what was stored inside, which finally gave way to a story that was to change my life, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. When I began to feel better, I joined a writing class, in Ojai, CA, where I live. The teacher, Deb Norton (screenwrite/playwrite of The Whole Banana) had us do an exercise involving a photo. We were to write a 10 minute mystery. The photo I picked was of two women huddled close together in clothing that looked circa turn of the twentieth century. I made them a Lesbian couple trying to avoid being found out. In my research, I came across Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. Britain had recently changed it’s laws to make homosexual activity, a man having sex with another man, a criminal offense resulting in a two year hard labor prison sentence. The combination of the photo from that writing class and Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment were the seeds that started the story, six years in the making. For those six years, I studied Wilde, the history of Lesbians, western settlement in the United States, and I opened to what it must have been like to live in fear of being persecuted because of the nature of one’s existence, that can no more be changed than the color of grass. As I wrote, I saw myself in the characters who I dialogued with, related with as if we were friends today, and in doing this I learned that external factors may change (the environment, technology, family relating, etc.) but the nature of the human condition and how we manifest remains the same. There will always be stories to tell, to write, to read, to appreciate, because we invest in literature from our humanness, our emotional composition, and we relate to the imagery created with narrative and dialogue that suit our preferences. We are drawn in, over and over and over again, to similar story lines, themes, sequels, because of this human experience–that in sitting down before a book or ebook, we are transcended out of our ordinary lives to magical places that written words create, no matter how similar or repetitive the story, because,after all, we are all living, breathing, stories.
Thank you for arriving at my page. I hope you read and enjoy my story. And, if you buy my book thank you from my heart for contributing to the energy to save the life of a dog.