Author: Vicki Salloum
Publisher: Moonshine Cove Publishing
In her latest novel, Waiting For You At Midnight Vicki Salloum has written and explored the dual realities of love and loss due to death.
The setting of the story is New Orleans where the opening chapter finds the narrator, Arabella Joseph in a funeral parlor viewing the body of her husband Logan who recently died of esophageal cancer at the age of sixty six.
The couple had been together for twenty-seven years after they met at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. Devastated by the loss of Logan, Arabella, who is sixty years of age, realizes that she is alone with no one to share her most intimate thoughts and feelings. She feels, as she states: “I'm an image-symbol-of uselessness and ridiculousness. I am not a person anymore. I was only a person with you.”
Arabella decides to write a series of letters to her late husband, which she describes as her little notebook, hoping that it will put her life in a place as peaceful as he is. At the same time, she wonders if the writing of these letters will make her life more bearable, will Logan understand everything and above all, the sham of living because as she must express in words what she could not verbalize while her husband was dying?
Through these letters Arabella delves into the past and recollects her passionate relationship with her late husband. As Salloum introduces us to Arabella and Logan, she places them against clearly defined backdrops. We learn about their socioeconomic differences, notwithstanding that they were recovering alcoholics. We discover that Logan came from a broken home and was abused physically and psychologically by his mother, whom he describes as “the wicked witch from hell.” At nineteen he married his girlfriend, Grace, impregnated her and by the time he was thirty he was “pretty much done in life.” When his marriage fell apart and Grace left him with their children, he became addicted to alcohol and narcotics. Not being able to hold down a job, he wound up living on the street. Eventually, he was imprisoned after he had robbed a bank. Yet, with all of this baggage, Arabella was attracted to him and as she states, he was the only one of her suitors that she could never walk away from, even though at times she was ashamed of him.
With respect to Arabella, her father had married her mother when he was thirty-six and she eighteen. He was a business genius and unfortunately could not complete his college studies as he had to drop out of school and take care of his widowed mother. Arabella had lived a privileged life with maids, diamonds, furs and as a result became a rich, spoiled, selfish brat treating her parents like garbage. You wonder how this mismatched couple were attracted to one another and what was the glue that kept them together?
Another theme explored through Arabella's letters is how she navigates the world of dating which she feels overwhelming and disappointing particularly that she is a widow in her sixties. Can she find love and avoid men who prey on her vulnerability? Putting her love for Logan into extremely sharp focus, she wonders if she will find intimacy and someone to passionately love again? How will others look at her when she does begin to date and how desperate is she hungry for love, the kind she experienced with Logan for twenty-seven years?
In Waiting For You At Midnight Salloum has recreated the high impact that can result from losing one's spouse and endeavouring to replace him or her with someone similar. Through concise, elegant prose that hits with great force she engages her readers, bringing them inside the skin of her complex character while at the same time creating believable conflict which results in a satisfying serious novel and a triumph for its author. Noteworthy is that Salloum does not gloss over or trivialize Arabella's pain and anguish. She imbues her yarn with candid realistic truths about death and loss as well as a woman's challenging search for intimacy after the death of a spouse.