[Content Note: Cancer, Death]
I couldn't help but notice that you have this book as an advance review copy on NetGalley:
Camille Hart, one of Manhattan’s most sought-after matchmakers, has survived more than her fair share of hardships. Her mother died when she was a young girl, leaving her and her sister with an absentee father. Now in her forties, she has already survived cancer once, though the battle revealed just how ill-equipped her husband Edward is to be a single parent. So when doctors tell Camille that her cancer is back -- and this time it’s terminal -- she decides to put her matchmaking expertise to the test for one final job. Seeking stability for her children and happiness for her husband, Camille sets out to find the perfect woman to replace her when she’s gone.
Now, I get that this is a romance novel, and that romance as a genre is not generally something that I, well, get. I also get that this is a short description that may not be even remotely accurate of the book's contents. In addition, I do not have small children, I am not married to someone who is ill-equipped to be a single parent, and I have never had terminal cancer.
So possibly this scenario is comforting in ways I do not immediately understand to people who are grappling with the guilt and fear of leaving their family behind due to an illness they cannot control. Indeed, now that I say all that, I think I read an erotic novel once that treated a similar subject from the perspective of a terminally ill Dom finding a replacement Dom for their sub, and while I thought the setup was similarly odd and not at all actually erotic because OMG SAD, I felt like the author handled the matter with sensitivity. So possibly there's a whole terminally-ill-replacement-romance sub-genre out there that I'm just not aware of, in which case you should take this letter with a grain of salt.
But having said all that, my initial visceral reaction to the the description of this book was one of profound sadness and anger. I literally felt my stomach turn on reading this. May I tell you why? I am going to do so now.
If I am diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow, I'm not sure precisely how I will spend my last days, but I am sure that finding someone for my Husband to bone will be pretty low on the bucket list. He is a big boy and managed to do pretty well with me, so I'm reasonably confident that he can take care of that department when I'm gone. He may even decide that he likes being single again (something that I doubt he would foresee in advance) and doesn't need to be in a constant, uninterrupted state of marriage. I also think that -- were I to make it a priority for me to do so -- I would spend more time recording and teaching the lessons I want my children to learn and less time trying to find a replica of me to take care of that for me in the future.
The Replacement Goldfish scenario seems like a high-risk low-return-on-investment plan, if you ask me, and it also seems to buy into a number of hurtful stereotypes about mothers and wives being replaceable widgets in the family machine, and that it is a woman's duty to serve her family (and never herself) right up to her dying breath. Hence my visceral oh, heck no reaction. And if you can forgive me saying so, when I read your book description and my first thought is "wow, that makes Twilight looks really feminist in comparison because at least Bella Swan wasn't interviewing Forks students looking for Edward's next soul mate in case the vampire-turning thing didn't work out," then you may be doing something wrong.
Is there honestly any reason why Camille Hart, one of Manhattan's most sought-after matchmakers, (and presumably therefore pretty loaded on the cash front) can't interview a few decent live-in nannies rather than spend the last days of her life scrambling to find a replacement for herself?
Something that is probably explained in your book, but I'll honestly never know. (Sorry.) Yours,