“The Cruelty of Love” prefaces with a quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson: “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Kate Johnson, the protagonist of the novel, should have read this before she began her campaign to confront her ex-boyfriends. Her ex-loves haunt her life and she acts.
Kate denies she’s seeking revenge. She justifies her drastic actions by rationalizing that her exes need to be made aware of the self-doubt they awoke in her and the pain they inflicted on her. At the time of the actual break-ups Kate was too young, too inexperienced and too hurt to be able to explain her feelings in an intelligible manner. It wasn’t until many years later, and after time in therapy, that she understood and could actually verbalize what had gone wrong and why she had such a sense of betrayal and injustice.
Why would Kate – a successful career woman, admired and loved by her family and friends, respected by her colleagues, and seemingly happy with her life – risk so much? Did she get satisfaction from her illegal undertaking? Normal people don’t do such things. Or do they?
I’m sure that a lot of you have thought about confronting an ex about a heart-rending break-up, one that left you miserable and shedding tears for a long time – you’d finally get the chance to tell them what you think. I have, but would never have the courage to go to such lengths as did Kate. Everyone says “get over it,” “there are other fish in the sea,” or “move on.” I would agree with them. But if I had written the book that way it wouldn’t be very interesting.
That’s one of the beauties of writing fiction – I can make my characters do what the ‘darker’ side of me would like to do. After reading “The Cruelty of Love” a friend wrote to me “That ‘darker’ side that you keep hidden away, should be allowed to flourish, be exposed to all and sundry, and let out of the closet!!!”
Fiction lets me expose my ‘darker’ side. So, I let Kate’s feelings stir up her darker side and let her set in motion an ingenious yet dangerous and illegal plan to confront Earl and Charles.