The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman
“There’s a little bit of Bella in everyone.”
The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman written by artist and first-time novelist, Shirley Sacks. The novel, spins a bold tale of a savvy woman of the world who gives a rollicking social commentary on life in the flats of Beverly Hills, men, “mature” dating habits, and the odd complexities of love, sociopaths, marriage, divorce, and living a creative life. According to the author, “The book looks at the role of the older woman, her place in the sexual panoply, which has been so horribly simplified.” Bella Mellman, a transplanted South African artist and writer, lives a ‘fabliss’ life (as her 8-year-old grand-daughter tells it) in the flats of Beverly Hills. A long-time divorcee nearing the seventh decade of a very full life, Bella is constantly annoyed when friends, and even strangers, ask the impertinent question of “Why, don’t you have a partner?” Followed by the hated phrase: “You look quite good for a woman your age.” The only thing to do, Bella realizes, is to write a book that explains once and for all, her satisfaction with being older and single.
Bella Mellman, a transplanted South African artist, writer and savvy woman of the world, lives a ‘fabliss’ life (according to her 8-year-old granddaughter) in the flats of Beverly Hills. Which is why it is so annoying when her friends, and even strangers, keep insisting her life is incomplete without a man. A long-time divorcee nearing the seventieth year of a very full life, Bella is constantly asked the impertinent question of “Why didn’t she have a partner, since she looked quite good (and here’s the most hated phrase) for a woman her age.”
The only thing to do, Bella realizes, is to write a book that explains once and for all, her satisfaction with being older and single.
In the pages of her Florentine journal, Bella gives voice to her out-spoken, witty and at times, outrageously honest opinions on men, “mature” dating habits, the odd complexities of love and marriage, along with a rollicking and humorous social commentary on life in sunny California. In the midst of charity events, art galleries, disappointing dates, and ex-husband drama, and supported by her quirky circle of friends, Bella surprises everyone when her book evolves into a screenplay set in her native South Africa. And she surprises herself when she discovers her true desire.
“Shirley Sacks has created a fresh, wise and saucy voice you’ll love -- Bella Mellman. You’ll want Bella to live next door, to come for dinner, to meet everyone you love and to write about everyone you don’t like.”
Jill Schary Robinson, best-selling author of Bed/Time/Story, Perdido, and With a Cast of Thousands
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Shortly after Bella got over the Envies, she came down with a Romance Virus. This took the form of longing for what she knew did not exist: a loving, adoring, man of substance, who would be content sharing Bella with the life she’d made for herself, and who wouldn’t intrude when not needed.
It wasn’t that hard to fathom what caused the Inflammation: Guy, at the age of seventy-three, had fallen in love. Since he and Wife Number Two divorced, Guy had dredged up old lovers, tried out a couple of gorgeous women who purported to be something other than what they were, and avoided most of the appropriate divorcées his friends pestered him to meet. Bella realized there’d be someone - sooner or later - and there were moments she wondered whether it could even be her; though their passion, such as it was, could never be rekindled. They might love each other, but theirs was a love best sustained by distance.
Irina was a genetic mix of Turkish, Danish, Irish, French, Swiss, and Portuguese, or so she said. Bella’s daughter, Jessica, thought Irina sounded Latina. “She’s a year younger than I am! Is that crazy or what? Dad’s so dumb. He thinks we’re going to become friends.”
That this age difference was ludicrous made little difference to Guy, who was lit by that particular glow one gets - at any age - with a fresh romance.
Bella had been divorced from Guy for almost thirty-five years; and still, when he found his last love - for this was surely to be his last - she was pained so badly that huge splinters of ice shot up through her body, finally falling, falling, like a river of acid down her old cheeks.
Old cheeks. That’s what she had. Damn him. Guy had a young cheek to caress, and she couldn’t even blame him, seeing as old cheeks were not appealing to her, either.
Bella was stung by more than that. Not only was Irina young, but Guy had found love. And as Shelly so aptly remarked, “A woman is lucky to be a man’s last love."
Shirley Sacks, born in Johannesburg, South Africa, has a degree in Fine Arts and has shown her work in galleries all over the world. She has also worked in advertising as a copywriter, and wrote a column for The Sun, a South African magazine. Ms. Sacks lived in London for many years before moving to Los Angeles in 1987. The Fabliss Life of Bella Mellman, which includes the author’s original artwork, is Shirley’s first published novel.