Mary Adler is an accomplished author, member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writer's International Society of Authors. She is a retired teacher and lawyer, now happily retired in northern California where her garden is a habitat for bees, butterflies, and birds.
That statement took me back to that most bewildering of days—the
day we received our report cards in grade school. My classmates jumped for joy because they had only gotten one D, or hadn't failed anything, or because they finally had gotten an A. They anticipated rewards and praise from parents who would be happy with their less-than-perfect grades. I didn't realize until I was much older, that their parents loved them for being who they were, and that affection was not based on their academic achievements. It was given, not earned.
We can argue that every living creature has the right to be loved, and they do, but in a real world, the world that isn't fair, too many living beings are not loved---no matter how talented or giving or worthy they are.
We see Corbett's assertion play out in memoirs. The stories of a wife struggling to build a life with a narcissistic husband; or the child vowing that today she will be perfect, and they will love her; or the teenager denying his own uniqueness and struggling to be accepted by a peer group not known for being inclusive.
We recognize this truth in books. When we see a fictional character devoting herself to an abusive man who will never change, we say no, no, don't go there, the way we warn characters in thrillers not to go into the cellar. But in she goes, into a relationship that might destroy her as completely as that monster in the dark.
I believe we love certain mystery series, like Louise Penny's Gamache books, or Fred Vargas' Adamsberg books, because although the continuing characters are realistically flawed and sometimes at odds with each other, in the end they will resolve their differences without ugliness. We can count on it, and that assurance creates an environment that is comforting. For however long we are in those characters' company, we vicariously enjoy the warmth and respect they have for each other, something we might be missing in our own lives.