After writing two New York Times bestselling books about angels, Danielle Trussoni had to put the third one on hold because she was thinking too much about the love that was lost.
“The Fortress: A Love Story” is her second memoir, having said she would never write another after “Falling Through the Earth” was published in 2006. That was about her relationship with her father. The new book is about her life with the man she was married to for 10 years, the father of her two children.
It is a love story, lasting 12 years of her life, the longest relationship Trussoni had been in. It just happened to end in divorce. It took about four years to get the experience on paper to be published.
“I wanted to look at the relationship in a sort of wide-angle way, a larger picture of it,” she said from her home in New York City. “When I started the relationship, it was a love story. It is still a love story — not a love story that succeeded — but it is the most long-term relationship I’ve had and the most significant one I’ve had when I decided to write this book. Whether a relationship ends well or not, it’s the intention that it would work. And that is a love story.”
The publisher writes that the couple moved to the south of France to hopefully renew their marriage, living in a stone fortress built by the Knights Templar in a picturesque medieval village. Sounds romantic.
“We had moved like eight times during the times we moved together,” she said. “It wasn’t the south of France I thought would make everything perfect. Our relationship did not work for reasons I now think are obvious.”
They initially blamed their troubles on not having enough money and other outside forces, she said, instead of seeing that the relationship was just not right.
“As a writer, I want to write a compelling story that haunts me, something I have to tell,” she said. “… I have to be really personally attracted to the material. That’s why I wrote the first memoir. I never expected to write another memoir. I had written two novels (between the memoirs). I was going to write a third one and I just couldn’t. I kept going back to the story of my marriage, what I was going through as a human being and a woman to make that marriage work.”
She hopes readers will see themselves in the pages. “I think there is a whole other level of empathy … when you write what really happened to you. … I think that’s why memoirs are so popular with certain readers.”
Trussoni said she came to understand that she just had a bad marriage.
“From the very beginning. I was married to someone who was not right for me,” she said, adding that she was so stubborn she didn’t want to let go. “I was going to make it work. I didn’t want a divorce. I have children … It was my own inability to come to terms with what I perceived as failure.”
While it took her a long time to make the decision to leave, she is happy now and moving on. She feels it is important for women to write about their personal experiences and take pride in doing that. She found “a million” memoirs on addiction. “I didn’t find many memoirs about women’s marriages and the point of view women have about marriage … and what happens to them in those long-term relationships. People are closed off about it ...”
At her morning session at the book festival, she said she might talk about the memoir. “There is a lot of misunderstanding about what it is and why people write true stories,” she said.
Then again, there are her two angel books (“Angelology” and “Angelopolis”), and she has now returned to writing the third.
“I was raised Catholic,” she said, and remains drawn to the elaborate world the Catholic Church has constructed around angels.
Book: “The Fortress: A Love Story”
When: 9 a.m. Feb. 18
Where: Jepson Center, Neises Auditorium, Telfair Square