It began with a scribbled note from her mother. “Elliott I. committed suicide and had a sister Dorothy.” Instantly, the quizzical words became etched in the mind of Elizabeth Gauffreau, author of Telling Sonny, a novel.
Elliott I. (his middle name was Irving) was Elizabeth Gauffreau’s paternal grandfather, but he died before she was born. Always curious and inspired by her family history, Elizabeth wrote a poem titled My Father’s Side of the Family, beginning it with the words on the scribbled note; however, it was not enough. A journey deep into the life of Elliott I. and other relatives became the most fitting way to preserve her family’s emotional truth.
Telling Sonny opens with 46-year-old Faby living alone in Enosburg Falls, Vermont. She had raised Sonny without his father, Louis, who she married a year after graduating high school. Louis, aka Slim White, was on the vaudeville circuit and had billed himself, America’s Favorite Hoofer. Readers of Telling Sonny have been fascinated with imagery of the 1920s theatrical entertainment that Elizabeth Gauffreau vividly portrays in places like Atlantic City, New Jersey. Also compelling is how Faby copes with her new reality after a life of intergenerational living in Vermont, totally naive about the world outside its familial borders. About four months into the marriage that was prompted by her pregnancy, Faby was back home, and Sonny was born and raised there, growing into a fine young man. During the planning of his wedding, he decided to invite his father, who happily accepted. Sadly, however, Louis died two weeks before the wedding – by suicide – like the real-life Elliott I. The story ends in the place it begins, with Faby living alone, telling Sonny the sad news and the hurtful truth of his father and father’s family’s absence from his life.
As a guest on Tea Toast & Trivia, Elizabeth Gauffreau, discussed The Art of Writing with podcast host Rebecca Budd. One of the first things she said was, “If someone gets me to talk about the writing process, I will not stop.” Her enthusiasm was apparent, encouraging those who wonder if they are indeed, writers. “You’re a writer if you write. You have a message that you want other people to hear, and writing is the appropriate medium to get a message out.”
Short stories and poetry represent Elizabeth’s love of writing in numerous publications listed on the About page of her website, and specific titles and dates on the Publications page. Her poetry includes Haiku and Tanka, and she also writes creative nonfiction and fiction, which includes her debut novel, Telling Sonny. Elizabeth Gauffreau’s writing has been described as mesmerizing. Perhaps her BA in English/Writing and MA in English/Fiction has a little something to do with it; however, creative writing is surely her gift.
A few of Elizabeth Gauffreau’s short stories are on her website, along with book reviews and poetry on her blog. Elizabeth’s discovery and interaction with the blogging community has been a profound influence on her writing life. Comments are welcomed, and you’ll likely get a response!
Elizabeth, I’m amazed that you found this “train in the snow” postcard and that there is a “train and snow” incident in Telling Sonny! Thank you for sending it. It makes me anticipate my next train ride. 🙂