Friday, 7 March 2014

Character Interview with Harriet from The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

Today I have a fabulous character interview with Harriet from The Dead Wife's Handbook.

1. For those who have not had a chance to meet you yet, please could you introduce yourself and tell us how you know Rachel.

My name’s Harriet and I’m in my 30s (but don’t ask me to be any more specific because keeping one’s age a secret is a woman’s prerogative). I’m a corporate lawyer which I’m pretty good at, even if I do say so myself. I live by myself in Islington, north London, and I haven’t yet found a man I can tolerate for an entire weekend, let alone a lifetime. So, for now at least, I’m happily single (although of course that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the odd dalliance...).

2. Rachel’s death must have come as quite a shock, but you seemed more concerned about Max, why was that?

I know I can often be accused of being selfish, but it’d take an idiot not to realise that of all the people who were most affected by Rachel’s death, it’s Max and Ellie. Of course I miss her like crazy but if only you’d seen Max and Rachel together, you’d know why it’s a bloody travesty that she died so young. I’m not usually a big fan of hanging around with uber-happy couples, but Max and Rachel were different: spending time with them, you felt embraced by their happiness. It was as though they had so much love for each other that just being in their presence felt like a place you wanted to be. So, yes, if you’d ever seen Max and Rachel together you’d know why we were all so concerned for him after Rachel died. I genuinely never thought he’d even begin to get over it.

3. What made you think that Max needed to get himself out there after Rachel passed away?

Max was in a really bad place after Rachel died. As in, really bad. He only just held it together, and he only managed that because of Ellie. By the time a year had passed without Rachel, we were all starting to worry that he might just slip further and further into himself, and retreat further into an hermetically-sealed world with Ellie. Max is a great guy, and much as I loved Rachel - and much as I know how much Max loved Rachel - I didn’t want to see him so low and so lonely forever. What friend would?

4. What do you miss most about Rachel?

That’s a tough one. Rachel had been my best friend for half my life. For all my adult life. I’d never been the kind of woman who did that whole ‘best girlfriend’ thing before I met Rachel. I’ve always had lots of friends, don’t get me wrong. But I’d never really understood that need some women have that kind of uber-close confidante. And then, in our first term, at university, I met Rachel and something just worked. I suppose what I miss about her most is her ability to see other people’s point of view - and not just to see it but to empathise with it too. She was the most emotionally generous person I’ve ever met. And she taught me whatever I now know about being sensitive to other people’s needs. And, believe me, that’s the kind of tutelage I’ve always been in need of.

5. On the surface it sounds like you and Rachel are very different people. What do you think made your friendship work?

I think that’s true of lots of friendships and relationships. It’s a cliche but opposites attract. I think I helped make Rachel a bit bolder (or, as I’m sure my mum would say, more bloshie) and she helped me make more tolerant. Well, at least she tried to. I hope she was at least partially successful.

6. You're clearly a very good godmother to Ellie. What do you like best about being a godmother?

Giving her back at the end of the day to her father! No, seriously, Ellie is amazing and I do love being her godmother. I’ve been accused in the past of taking life - and my job in particular - too seriously but Ellie certainly helps me see the lighter side of life. And I can’t deny I quite like dressing her up in the kind of clothes I’d have loved to have worn at her age. I love the fact that she’s the only person in my life who will always tell me the truth without being scared of the consequences.

7. It seems like you still have quite a close relationship with Rachel's mother, Celia, which some might see as quite unusual now Rachel's not here any more. Have you made a conscious effort to remain in touch?

Not a conscious effort, no. But I’ve known Celia as long as I’ve known Rachel and she’s seen me the worse-for-wear after a big night out as many times as my own mum has. I’ve always been very fond of Celia and I can’t imagine us not being friends now. And I don’t think you have to be a mother to understand that losing a child is probably the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman. It’s not that we talk about Rachel all the time, but I like to think that maybe it helps a bit, having that connection with Rachel through one another. I like to think it helps us both. 

A big thank you to Harriet for stopping by my blog today and also to the fantastic, lovely  author Hannah Beckerman.

If you have not yet had a chance to read The Dead Wife's Handbook and would like more info, you can check out my review here: The Dead Wife's Handbook

The Dead Wife's Handbook is available from Amazon UK and Waterstones

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