Bestselling author Jean Marie Davis chatted about her critically-acclaimed book “Espoused.”
Espouse means to take in marriage; to make a marriage permanent by court decree; the court-approved process by which couples may stay together beyond the legal 15-year term.
There is no such thing as divorce. 15 years is the legal life cycle of a marriage. If a couple wants to stay married, they must hire a lawyer and petition the court to become espoused.
After 14 years of marriage, Sara and Thomas Healy are still in love. Their decision to go to court to be espoused permanently is a source of great embarrassment for their children. Avery is ready for the benefits of uncoupling, and Sam really doesn’t need the social stigma of parents who decide to stay together, on top of everything else. Lame!
Their espouse attorney, Gwen Stevens, has other problems. The judge for the Healy case is her nemesis, Carly Abraham, also known as “the Wicked Witch of the Bench.” Judge Abraham was previously married to Gwen’s husband Dennis, from whom she uncoupled after the allotted 15 years. She hates espouse lawyers on principle and seems to have an extra dose of dislike for Gwen personally.
While the Healys struggle through the espouse experience—trial separation, uncouple counseling, and ongoing financial burdens—Gwen has to deal with the judge and her own struggles at home. In this fight for love, who has the answers?
Jean Marie Davis was born and raised in Huntington on Long Island in New York. After graduating from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale she moved back to Long Island where she worked in the Marketing Research industry for over 30 years. She currently lives in Centerport, New York close to her daughter and son.
Q & A interview
‘Espoused’ is such a dynamic read, which has really caught the imaginations of readers, what was your inspiration for this phenomenal book?
A few years ago my sister went through a very contentious and arduous divorce that took over two years to finalize. We were sitting on the beach after her divorce had become final and she was telling me how well she was now getting along with her ex-husband. She never thought they would be civil to one another after going through such a horrible break-up.
One of my sister’s comments was: “We are so much happier not being together. The break-up was terrible. The law should be you have to uncouple after 15 years and let those who want to stay together fight to stay together. At the very least, you have
two people fighting to stay together instead of two people fighting against each other. It should be easier to separate.” As we discussed it further – a book idea was born!
This book has so many fascinating characters, so I know it will be hard to choose, but do you have a favorite? What is one of the keys to developing the characters in your stories?
I love all my characters! I love and admire Gwen Stevens for her hard work, perseverance, and the love she has for her family, especially her husband, Dennis. The other character I loved was the guidance counselor, Ms. Kim. She was just fun to write, I loved her complete dedication to optimism.
One of the keys to developing Gwen was that she doesn’t have the experience of going through uncoupling and her law expertise was not in Espouse law. Gwen had quit her job as a litigation lawyer to take over Dennis’ law practice when he became sick.
Also, since it was Dennis’ second marriage, the uncoupling law didn’t apply to their marriage union. I had to make her conflicted about uncoupling and espouse. Gwen felt she never would have married Dennis if it wasn’t for the uncoupling law and yet she fully understood why two people would want to stay together. It was hard for Gwen to put herself in the shoes of her clients, but she would always do her best for them and work hard to get them legally espoused.
While Writing ‘Espoused’ did you learn anything new about yourself?
I learned how difficult it is to go against cultural norms. I had to write and re-write different scenes because I kept falling back into the married and divorced scenarios we live in now. I would have to think the reverse of everything – people’s emotions, cultural norms, laws, etc., and I found it was more difficult to “reverse think” than I thought it would be. I also learned that everyone’s relationships are different and over time people do change so those relationships will change too.
Downtime is necessary for many writers and artists to get their creative mojo going. What do you do when it’s time for you to relax and unwind?
I love to read, hike, walk, bike, and watch interesting shows/movies. During the pandemic, I read a lot of cozy mysteries including those by Julie Anne Lindsey, Bree Baker, Cleo Coyle, Ellery Adams, and Nancy J. Cohen (to name a few).
My hiking has taken me to Bear Mountain and Sunken Meadow Park – both in New York. Most of my biking is done on Nantucket when visiting my sister (much more bike-friendly than New York). I watch many shows on the streaming service Acorn – Vera, Agatha Raisin, Doc Martin, and, of course, anything along the lines of a Downton Abbey such as The Gilded Age or Bridgerton.
‘Espoused’ has been very popular with readers. Are you working on another book?
I’ve been working on a murder mystery. It’s about a widowed school teacher who retires and takes up flying drones. She seems to discover dead bodies whenever she is on a working drone mission!!
When it’s time to launch a new book, what drink do you celebrate with?
I’m very boring – I don’t drink, but I loved celebrating the launch with family and friends at my brother’s restaurant, Meehan’s of Huntington.
“Espoused” is available on Amazon by clicking here.