Forthcoming Novel: At the Mercy of the Sun
I am currently writing a novel based on the life of late 19th-century photographer Clover Adams. Clover wants desperately to feel something and to be remembered, but the women in her family are known only for madness and lives cut short. With a witty and wry perspective on America in the Gilded Age, Clover leads a life of confined privilege in the social and political worlds of Boston and Washington, D.C. Motherless, childless, and with her marriage unraveling, she develops a passion for the new art of photography, but will that passion give her life meaning or itself be the source of still more disappointment and loss?
At the tender age of five, Clover Hooper witnessed the death of her pregnant mother. Clover grows up finding solace and purpose in her mother’s poetry and in a fierce dedication to her widowed father and their family farm in rural Massachusetts, but at age 28 she marries Henry Adams, a descendant of two American presidents who is eager to escape his own family legacy and expectations. Clover follows Henry to Europe, Egypt, and eventually Washington, D.C., where he pursues a writing career and she becomes a skilled photographer. When one of her portrait sessions ultimately reveals a secret that, coupled with the stress of the Adams’ childlessness after twelve years of marriage and a series of family tragedies, threatens Clover’s fragile mental well-being, she is forced to make a final decision about the power the past holds over our future happiness.
Clover Adams is not a well-known figure, but she moved within powerful political and literary circles of her time. She is even said to be the inspiration behind several characters in the novels of Henry James. Yet, Clover only vaguely appears in the historical record, left out of her famous husband’s later autobiographical writings and leaving behind only a few letters and her photographs.