"My Bittersweet Charlie" is shocking. It was intended to be. It is also funny, frightening, poignant, and tender. Above all, it is tragic as only real life can be.
The novel begins with Dr. Doug Larson, a university professor, writing and delivering to Miss Charlie Johnston, an elementary school teacher, an angry and hurtful letter telling her to pick up her furniture from his house and get out of his life. Doug and Charlie met almost three years earlier when she took a graduate class which he was teaching, and the two have lived with each other--off and on--for the past two and one-half years.
Charlie is 25 years of age, beautiful, bright, charming, athletic, competitive, manipulative, sexual, and impulsive. Charlie is also manic-depressive, perhaps with schizophrenic tendencies, and drinks excessively when she is depressed. During her drinking binges, Charlie is quite promiscuous.
In telling Charlie's story, the author delves deeply into Charlie's mental health disorders as they manifest themselves throughout the entire book. Charlie has frequent discussions with Doug about her visits to her different psychiatrists. One of Charlie's psychiatrists from whom Charlie sought treatment and another psychiatrist agreed that "man-woman" relationships with Charlie were like tennis matches. . . his advantage. . . deuce. . . her advantage. . . and win. . . match . . . game over. . . and once Charlie had eliminated all the obstacles, she was then ready to move on to the next relationship. There were two obstacles in Charlie's relationship with Doug: Carole, Doug's estranged wife, and Sheri, his present girlfriend. The conclusion to the story is both dramatic and shocking.
Of equal importance is the beautiful, tender and heart-wrenching love story that is depicted in the book. In addition, the novel is sprinkled with an abundance of humor.
The moon, the rose in the wine bottle, and the lyrics to Kris Kristofferson's song, "For the Good Times" are key elements to this story.
"My Bittersweet Charlie" should be read by those who have known love and given their all in an attempt to help the one they love.
Author's Note: Hopefully this novel will provide readers with a better understanding of two of the most devastating mental health disorders: manic-depression (bipolar) and schizophrenia.show more