Joy Fielding

Letter from Joy

June 7, 2022

Hi, everyone,
I hope everyone is well and feeling optimistic about the future. Hopefully, we’re nearing the end of the prolonged nightmare that is COVID. I know that much of the U.S. and parts of Europe have been carrying on as if the pandemic has been over for some time, but here in eastern Canada, we’re much more cautious. Most of us are still wearing our masks when indoors in public spaces, and masks are still required in most theatres, although not, for some reason, in large arenas. But COVID is still very much with us. Everyone I know who has traveled to the U.S. in recent weeks has returned with COVID, including my younger daughter and her entire family, as well as a number of my friends. And my older daughter and her boyfriend caught it at a recent John Mayer concert (in a large arena) where they were among the very few people wearing masks. Luckily, since they were all fully vaccinated (3 shots), their cases were relatively mild - my daughters seemed to get the worst of it. My husband and I have both had 4 shots, and so far, have managed to stay lucky, but as restrictions are lifted and some misguided people still refuse to get vaccinated, it’s unlikely COVID will disappear anytime soon. And now we have monkey pox to worry about!!!

So far, summer has been disappointing, weather-wise. Lots of rain and cool temperature, although we’ve had a few blisteringly hot days. I know that summer doesn’t technically arrive until June 21st, but I’d really been hoping for an early start, since we had such a miserable, long, snow-filled winter. As I’m writing this, I’m looking out my window at a very grey, rainy day, the kind of day that makes you want to crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. Definitely not a day to go for one of my long walks.

It feels strange not to walk, since long walks have become such a major part of my days. At least I’ve started exercising again after a fairly lengthy layoff. I stopped doing my half hour of exercise every morning after my recent experience with sciatica. I was terrified to do anything that might trigger another episode. (Those of you who have ever suffered from this unbelievably painful affliction will understand!) But I decided I’d better get back into doing something after I agreed to go golfing with my daughter’s boyfriend. So I’m now doing 20 minutes a day, if only to limber up a bit so I could swing a club without breaking my back, and I’m happy to report that despite not having golfed since last October, I wasn’t too bad. Not great, but at least I didn't embarrass myself. My daughter’s boyfriend is a very good golfer, shooting 89 despite not having golfed in four years! And I have to admit that it was very nice to be back on the course. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed it.

Something I’ve been doing a lot lately is reading, and I’m really happy to have gotten back into the habit. I’m in the middle of Tina Brown’s informative, well-researched and well-written, not to mention incredibly juicy, THE PALACE PAPERS, and I’m looking forward to starting my friend Linwood Barclay’s TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY right after.

What I haven’t been doing is writing. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I’m finding it very difficult to give it the concentration it requires. I have a number of ideas and I’m giving them time to germinate and see which one feels the most ready. I used to panic if I didn’t have something up and ready to write, but now I figure that since I’ve written thirty books thus far, the chances are good that another idea will pop up eventually. My next book, THE HOUSEKEEPER, will be out on August 16 (available for pre-order now on Amazon), and it’s already received a number of advance rave reviews, so I’m very hopeful it will prove successful. And I’ve started putting up tiny snippets of me reading from my existing novels - right now it’s CUL-DE-SAC - on both my twitter and Facebook pages. Snippets from other novels will also start appearing as time goes on.

We took a trip to Stratford to see Shakespeare’s Richard The Third, and it was fun to get away, if only for the day. The production was pretty good, although I could have done without the modern add-ons at the beginning and end. Neither added anything significant and made the play, already long, feel interminable. The first half went on for two hours! And the play itself is surprisingly one-dimensional. I haven’t been to any movies since The Northman, although I’ve watched a few on TV, including The Lost City, which I thought was very mediocre, despite the undeniable appeal of Channing Tatum, Sandra Bullock and Brad Pitt. I also found Death on the Nile to be a bit of a bore, although it was certainly pretty to look at.

As for regular TV, I’ve been watching The Staircase, and finding it increasingly irritating. I’m getting more than a little tired of the recent trend in story-telling, especially on TV, of jumping back and forth in time. It’s unnecessarily confusing when dealing with episodic TV, making it difficult to keep track of what is happening and who the multitude of characters are. Plus, it feels as if the story is being teased out indefinitely. What would make a decent two-hour movie is stretched to eight hours, and it’s just too long. It reminds me a bit of Dateline in that regard. What should be a one-hour show is stretched to double that, the result being that I invariably lose interest in the outcome and fall asleep long before its conclusion. (I don’t think I’ve ever made it to the end! It’s the best soporific I know.)

I’ve also been watching The First Lady, although I wouldn’t still be watching if I could find anything else of interest at that hour. I loved the first few episodes, but I’ve found the last few to be too preachy and uninteresting, with the exception of Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Betty Ford. The weakest link in the show is, surprisingly, Viola Davis’s Michelle Obama. Firstly, she’s simply too old to play Michelle, and she keeps doing something very weird with her lips, which I find beyond irritating. I don’t ever recall her doing it before. And Michelle Obama, as written here, is simply too passive a character. She reacts to events, rather than being the driving force behind them. And I simply can’t look at, or listen to, Gillian Anderson any more. I know she’s trying to emulate Eleanor Roosevelt, but the way she holds her head and imitates her voice, are just too much to bear. The main problem with the Betty Ford story is that we’re already familiar with it, so we know where it’s going, although as I said, Michelle Pfeiffer is terrific.

A show I do like is I Love That For You, although I don’t understand or like the title. But while I find the characters over-the-top and annoying, I also find them surprisingly vulnerable and oddly likeable. I tried watching We Own This City and The Baby, but gave up after one episode. Ditto Barry. I made it through two and a half episodes of The Flight Attendant before I’d had enough, although I enjoyed Zosia Mamet’s performance. And Law&Order has been a disappointment. It just doesn’t have the impact of the original series, the cast is generally less than impressive and poor Sam Waterston looks as if he’s been embalmed. And I’ve given up on the various FBIs, although I do like the addition of Dylan McDermott to the Most Wanted. He adds welcome star power to the mix, unlike the International edition, which has none at all. And the problem with the original is that every episode is the same. Unlike the Chicagos - Fire, Med and P.D. - which are concerned with the private lives of the various characters even more than they are with the multitude of catastrophes around them, the FBIs are too procedural, and the characters not nearly interesting enough. And why has Alana de la Garza started talking like David Caruso in CSI Miami, pausing in the middle of sentences when no pause is called for? Stop that!

Thank goodness for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! They’re back and they’re as childish and bitchy as ever. Makes for great TV, even when you want to wring their necks for giving women such a bad name. Can’t wait for the return of The Bachelor franchise, especially Bachelor in Paradise.

And that’s about it for this month. Hope you stay healthy and happy, and I’ll meet you here again next month.