Savannah book lovers will have the rare opportunity to have best-selling author Joyce Maynard sign her most recent book on the day of its release, Sept. 5.
"Savannah wasn't on my original schedule," she says. "I just love Savannah and I'm going to the Decatur Book Festival, so I decided to stop. It will be a too-brief stop."
At the Book Lady Bookstore, Maynard will sign her memoir, "The Best of Us," and speak about it.
"I always do a little bit of reading," she says. "My favorite part is having a conversation with readers. [Savannah author] Rosemary Daniell and I will have a conversation in front of the group and then open it up to everybody."
"The Best of Us" is Maynard's 17th book. It is a memoir about meeting and marrying the love of her life, only to lose him to pancreatic cancer a short time later.
"This one occupies a unique place in my writing," Maynard says. "I think this is a book that will speak to people who have had the experience of losing somebody or supporting somebody. But I never think of it as a cancer memoir.
"It's a love story more than anything, the story of my discovery of the meaning of marriage. I was in my late 50s before I figured it out, but I did.
"In my case, the discovery came with the fear of the loss of my husband," Maynard says. "But it's not a depressing story; it's a hopeful and inspiring story."
The whole experience changed Maynard forever.
"Jim did not survive his cancer," she says. "I'd give anything for the ending to be different.
"But I'd be a pretty sorry individual if I lived through this experience and did not become somebody wiser and better. So I hope this book is some of that.
"I never set out to teach lessons, just tell a story," Maynard says. "There were many lessons."
Her marriage to Jim Barringer was Maynard's second.
"I was married when I was young to the father of my children," she says. "At the point Jim and I met each other, we each had been on our own for almost 25 years. We came to this relationship with a lot of history and a lot of love.
"Really, this is the story of making that relationship - how to put two very different lives together. I think Jim and I were very, very lucky. We were really treasuring what we had.
"We met on Match.com," Maynard says. "I want other people of my age to feel inspired and hopeful about that. I met a lot of other people who weren't Jim and I've heard Match.com horror stories, but we met and kind of figured out pretty quickly that we wanted to live together."
Although Jim wanted to marry, she didn't.
"At the time I met Jim, I had been on my own a long time," Maynard says. "I had relationships, but I learned how to be alone and independent.
"I wanted to be loved, I wanted to have romance, but I felt no desire to be married. It was Jim who wanted to get married.
"We got married in summer 2013, but it wasn't until we spent 15 months together that I really got what marriage was," she says. "I thought for this really nice, smart, kind, funny man who twirled me around in the kitchen, I would make a small space in my closet. I wanted to carry on as before."
Maynard wasn't even comfortable saying the terms "husband" and "wife."
"But the prospect of losing him and what it required to try and save him brought me to a place I had never been before," she says. "We sacrifice ourselves and turn ourselves over to our children, but I had never done it with a partner.
"I never had a real partner before. It became so clear, that right now my job is doing everything to help and support him.
"When he qualified for the surgery that was his one chance for survival, it wasn't him having surgery - it was us having surgery," Maynard says. "It's a book much less about cancer and the particulars of living with cancer or surviving a loss after cancer, as it is about the nature of love."
Maynard is the best-selling author of several novels, including "Labor Day" and "After Her." She wrote an earlier memoir, "At Home in the World."
Her essays and columns have appeared in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Parade and more. The mother of three grown children, she is originally from New Hampshire, but now lives in California.
In conjunction with the book's release, Maynard has created a three-minute slideshow. It can be seen on YouTube or at her website, joycemaynard.com.
For Maynard, the only job imaginable was being a writer.
"I've been a writer all my life," she says. "I published work when I was 13.
"Whether it was fiction or memoir, I was always working through things I cared about. Pretty much from the moment of diagnosis, I knew I would write this memoir and Jim knew.
"I wanted the story to have a different ending," Maynard says. "I didn't write a word while he was sick. I was thinking about the story, and it gave me a comfort to know when this thing was done, all my life would be there that I could share it."
Writing the book was a major part of the healing process.
"It sounds odd to some people who aren't writers," Maynard says. "I began writing it the day Jim died.
"It was the one thing I could do at that point," she says. "I like to think the story I have to tell resonates with other people."
The reviews have all been positive.
"I have gotten a lot of different kinds of reviews over the years, but I don't measure myself by reviews," Maynard says. "I care about readers.
"That's why I go out on the road. I'm book-tour kind of old fashioned. I like to meet readers and it is readers I care about.
"I have readers I consider friends all over the country," she says. "Wherever I go, I see familiar faces. I'm likely to have a correspondence with that person at some point."
IF YOU GO
What: Book signing with Joyce Maynard
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 5
Where: The Book Lady Bookstore, 6 E. Liberty St.
Info: 912-233-3628; joycemaynard.com