I’ve devoured the Charley Sloan lawyer series by William Coughlin and continue to read his other novels. I noticed that the copyright reads “William J Coughlin has asserted HER rights… to be identified as the author of this work.” I thought that was a weird typo , so I ended up searching out details of his life. As I posted earlier, William Coughlin passed away in 1992. He wrote with such life and vigor (and no anachronistic references) that I couldn’t imagine I was reading the works of a dead author.
Coughlin’s wife and former editor, Ruth, wrote “Grieving: A Love Story” in 1993. I was fascinated by their relationship and perhaps morbidly curious about William (known as Bill to his family and friends). He couldn’t be dead, right? I just finished “Grieving,” which is a tough read. And yes, William is dead. Maybe if Ruth weren’t such a terrific writer, the book would be easier to take. Written in chapters which juxtapose William’s fight for life with Ruth’s desperate loneliness after his death, the book is startling in its honest depiction of the agonies of fighting end-stage cancer. One source of Ruth’s anguish was how others responded to her grief; she found comfort in the kind words that thousands sent to her.
Ruth was offended by the content of many “survivor” books. Would she be surprised that her book is still of consolation to others? My copy of “Grieving” is second-hand and after I finished reading, I noticed this inscription in the cover:
I know this is a tough time of year for you. Maybe reading this book will help. Let me know when we can get together for bingo, bridge, lunch or dinner.
Wow. Ruth, who passed away in 2015, would have been pleased.