Cliche as it may be, the saying “happiness is on the inside” couldn’t be more true. Although all three of my novels explore this theme, my forthcoming novel, A Very Rich Poor Man is all about the joy to be had from living on the inside. The Greco family matriarch, Donna, is the protagonist of this novel and we meet her at age thirteen in 1970, while she and her older brother, Vincent are listening to the Beatles last album, Let It Be. She sits listening to the music, gazing at Vincent’s paintings which cover his walls, admiring her older brother who taught her everything she knows about music. “It’s because of him that I know so much about cool music…. I’m pretty sure I’m the coolest eighth grade girl in the whole town, possibly the whole state of New Jersey.”
Vincent is someone who is truly able to live on the inside–a sort of Renaissance man, who paints and plays several musical instruments and studies philosophy and astronomy and loves Tolkien so much that when he meets a woman on the bus who claims to be an elf, he believes her! As a young girl, Donna recognizes and admires her brother but as time moves on, she begins to see him as unpragmatic and incapable of achieving happiness. Like so many people, she equates happiness with monetary success, with being married with children and pursuing a dignified career. She spends so much of her time and energy trying to get him to change and conform to the society in which we live. But in the end, he ends up saving her and giving her the insight and fortitude to seek a different path.