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December 31, 2012

Betsy Prioleau and the Book that Changed the Course of Her Life

Posted by tom

We wrap up this year's Author Holiday Blogs with an inspirational piece from Betsy Prioleau, the author of SEDUCTRESS, THE CIRCLE OF EROS, and her latest work, SWOON, which releases on February 4th. It’s possible that none of these achievements would have occurred had it not been for THE COSMOPOLITAN CAT, the book that Betsy received on Christmas when she was 22 and in a bad place. It completely altered the course of her life, and as we enter 2013, Betsy's remarkable story should serve as a reminder to us all that a new year can signify major changes, a fresh start, and a new beginning.

Sometimes the most random book can upend your life. That Christmas I was 22, miserably married for two years to Mr. Wrong (a woman-in-her-place deadbeat), and trapped in a monotonous job at a small-town library. The money I’d won from a fiction contest had gone into a beige corduroy sofa that my cat had shredded to birch bark, and the small, cluttered rental house felt like a storage cage --- even with a lit Christmas tree in the corner.

Then I opened the gift from my Manhattan grandmother, THE COSMOPOLITAN CAT by Beulah Roth. I’d read THE DOLL’S HOUSE and all the feminist manifestos, but this slim volume was the defining moment. I devoured the stories --- how she toilet-trained and traveled with her Siamese, and I pored over the pictures: a soignée Beulah in a gondola with her cat, in Paris with Colette, somewhere else with Cary Grant, and always with artists and writers in tow.

After I closed the book, a flip switched. It took longer than I thought, but the day finally came when I packed my bags with my portable typewriter and favorite Christmas book ever, and lit out for a life and adventures of my own. Now I’ve written three books myself, and can wind up anywhere on Christmas with my adorable husband of 40 years --- in Marrakesh, Prague, at home in New York City, or in our house in Southern France, with ritual readings of La Nuit Magique de Noël over a Yule log.