Newly-divorced and on her own, 40-something Ava Stuart forges a new life. One day, at a signing in the local library for her novel, a tall, dark-haired man walks in and stands in the back of the room. Jay Scioli is a wanderer – a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U. S. Army, and corporate America. His outlook on life having changed, his health shattered by illness, he writes a memoir. In his isolation, he searches for an editor to help him pick up the loose ends. Time may be running out. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava. Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events.
Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.
(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)
Publisher: Writing Circle Press
Genre: Fiction | Literary
Published: April 10, 2015
Format: Paperback, 226 pages
“He stood tall, his shoulders straight as if he had military training, yet there was a casual ease about him as he walked into the library that September day in 1993. When he looked at her, she glanced down and pretended to study her notes.”
So begins a beautiful love story from beginning to end. The story of a young woman suffering a multitude of losses. And a young man living with difficult memories and disillusionment.
Susan Weidener is a masterful writer. She has written two memoirs, and A Portrait of Love and Honor is her third work but her first novel.
Uniquely penned as fiction but also drawing from her husband’s journals from West Point, the reader shares in two stories: John Cavalieri’s story as a West Point Cadet and the love story spanning time as Weidener brings John’s story to the page for us to read.
The main characters, Jay and Ava, are undoubtedly our author and her husband, John. As a writer, I appreciate Weidener’s choice to write this work as a novel as so much found in another’s journals is hard to confirm. Kudos to her for maintaining the integrity of the journals.
Writing a book using both first and third voices is a difficult and challenging style. However, Weidener does it with finesse. Transitions are hardly noticeable, and not once do they interrupt the flow of the story as in some other works.
As the relationship develops between Jay and Ava, we sense a respect and love also expressed in the warm, engaging, and tender language Weidener uses to share their story. Through their relationship we experience so many emotions as Jay becomes ill, and yet the pace of the story allows us to engage with the characters at each moment along the way.
An avid fan of Weidener’s, I have read both her memoirs and found the same quality and excellence of writing in Again in a Heartbeat and Mornings at Wellington Square. Her newest work, A Portrait of Love and Honor, serves to finish what could be called a trilogy.