Tag Archive | 1968

Tidal Wave


The news today came instantly from across the wide world, all the way from the other side of a vast and angry sea. From Japan, over satellite, we saw videos and photos of massive earthquakes and giant tsunamis, as they were happening. Within minutes, even seconds, we Americans bore witness to the fury of Mother Nature unleashed on Japanese soil. It was a shock sent round the world, breaking apart whole villages, slamming into continents, traveling 500 miles an hour or more. Though awed by the destructive power of an earth gone mad, we’re impressed but not awed by the immediacy of our news links.

How different the world was in 1968; an eternity away from 1584 when Sir Walter Raleigh sailed the high seas and named the new colony Virginia for his virgin queen. In PERSEPHONE IN HELL, teenage Glory experiences the world more like Queen Elizabeth I than like any modern girl today.

“There are idiots and savages all around. And no one to defend me from them. It was no wonder Queen Elizabeth sent scouts to the new world while she herself stayed home. It’s boring being safe, but probably, better than being abused. I thought idiot jerks were only in my backwater town, but in fact, they’re everywhere. Even a queen has to wait, sometimes for years, for news from across the sea. Savages are everywhere. And the new world I’m longing for is oceans away.

Someday, I’ll be free to go wherever I want, whenever I want. It will be a new world, and no dumb creeps will stop me from getting there. She took some small comfort in her thoughts.”

For Glory, there is no immediate news, no quick cure, nothing to do but hold on tight. Accept the disasters and difficulties of her life. Wait for events to unfold.

Sometimes it hits me like a shock wave, how fundamentally altered from 1968 our lives are today. It’s almost an eternity, a sea of time away.






The Queen of the Nile. A goddess beholden to no one. Left to float down the river on her own if she so commands, or to read sci-fi novels in bed with a pack of cigarettes. Joyce is Glory’s mother in PERSEPHONE IN HELL, my novel set in 1968. Glory has stayed up late, waiting for her mother to come home from work. It’s hard to gain Ma’s attention. And Glory’s lonely. She despises her name, hates her life, wishes for an existence she can only imagine.

“Ma?” she wondered. “Have you ever wanted to be rich and famous, like a movie star? Have you ever wanted to be someone besides yourself? If you could be a queen, Ma, who would you be?”

Glory’s mother considered the exhausting day she had just finished. “I suppose Cleopatra,” she replied. “Why? Cleopatra floated down the Nile on her own barge. She could be alone anytime she wanted. She made rules to suit herself.”

Ma took a drag on her Chesterfield and flicked the ashes into the kitchen sink. “Oh, and she drank lovely coconut milk and ate figs dipped in honey. Egypt is hot but not ungodly humid like here in summer. She had the gentle breezes of the Nile to keep her cool. Yes, I’d be Cleopatra if I had a chance.”

Joyce scraped her scrambled eggs onto a plate and took a last drag of her cigarette. She looked for an empty ashtray. Every one of them overflowed. She dropped the butt into a coffee cup left on the table from breakfast. She closed her eyes for a moment and luxuriated in the notion of being all alone.”

Joyce doesn’t mean to neglect Glory. It’s just that she, like her daughter, is broken by the circumstances of her difficult life. And don’t we all wish at times that we could be someone else, anyone else?



Persephone in Hell: a novel by C.F. Joyce

Persephone in Hell by C.F. Joyce, Westport River Publishing August 2014. Find her on amazon. com.Only $2.99 for one of the best e-reads of your life. Or buy it in print paperback for only $14.95 @ PERSEPHONE IN HELL.

Troubled teenage Glory imagines herself a mighty queen, but discovers in her 1968 Massachusetts town that even queens have to watch their heads as savages await. Glory and her family move from Boston city life to rural cow country where people have heard of Jews but never seen a real one. A coming of age tale of a girl who doesn’t understand why her sister won’t talk to her and even Mother Nature seems out to get her. She cries out to the gods for help. But nobody sees her terrible self inflicted wounds. No one is paying attention. In this coming of age debut novel, C.F. Joyce explores the roles that family histories, clashing cultures, and dysfunctions play in the life of a young girl.


Under the working title “Memories of Glory”, the novel won a HarperCollins Top 5 Gold Medal award. Here are some of the reviewer’s comments:

“It is very difficult to approach a ‘coming of age’ story, and write in such a way as to not appear clichéd, but [the author] has made a remarkably strong case. In ‘Memories of Glory’, the journey from childhood to adulthood is dealt with in a unique way; the six children in Glory’s family are used to explore various different facets of growing up. The reader is also able to understand more about the pasts of Glory’s parents and their families, allowing adult tensions to be explored too. A compelling feminist take on life dominates, but the feelings of the important men in Glory’s life are not left uncovered. The memories she recalls do not depict a clear straightforward story, rather each is a part of a puzzle which in the end paints an often brutal but fair conclusion on life…Glory is set up well as a whimsical day-dreamer. She lives in an alter-world, and her intelligence and desire to be elsewhere helps build a strong picture of her imagination. Gradually it becomes clear that the world she fashions for herself is an escape from the harsh life that she has had to lead. As a protagonist she is wonderful; her suffering is a result of both her surroundings and of universal teenage trauma: I found her hugely accessible…The use of dialogue, and the focus on different characters in each recollection, allows the reader to build a strong concept of each family member, and their relationships with one another. This is a vibrant read, and no connection is left unexplored. Friendship, as well as sibling rivalry, is beautifully drawn out…The author clearly has a gift for wit and charm, illustrated in the passage where the family go blueberry picking…The role of “Mother Nature”, of fate and fortune, is an interesting theme and one that gives an interesting dimension to the family’s attitude.”