Esther Paul

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In Spite Of All That



Esther’s second published book, In Spite of All That, is a novel about a twentieth-century woman's journey though adult life to late middle age.
Born in the Depression years in rural Manitoba into a strictly religious middle-class family, Mary by all outward appearances enjoyed a successful and comfortable life. However, on the brink of suicide at 58, she looks back over her life as she writes farewell letters to those close to her. In doing so, she is impelled to re-evaluate her relationships and the decisions she made in her life.


Read excerpts from the book:

Chapter 1


She counted and recounted the blue capsules. Is 56 enough? Will they just make me sick? When shall I do it? This weekend? If I wait too long I might lose my courage. Or I might spill the beans to Donalda. She might read my misery on my face – she’s good at that – and I don’t want her to try to talk me out of it. Mary’s inner voices jumped from thought to thought. Or today – while I am still so determined? I might chicken out if I wait till Saturday! No, not yet – first I must write to those people who matter to me. I owe them that much.

As if they were dynamite, Mary carefully swept the capsules off the bathroom counter into her hand, funnelled them back into the bottle, snapped on the lid and set it back into the medicine cabinet. Unable to move for several seconds, she stared at her face in the cabinet mirror, her large grey eyes so sad and generous mouth so down-turned. Her dishevelled pepper-and-salt hair (more pepper than salt) stuck out from her head at all angles from the constant raking of her fingers. For the past hour she had restlessly paced her apartment floor trying vainly to escape the ache in her solar plexus. . . .

Chapter 15


Rob Sullivan was 33 and Mary was 21 when they met. She noticed him first at the bowling and curling leagues of Deer Lodge Hospital where she was the newest and youngest member of the staff.

“Who is that?” Mary asked Vic, captain of her bowling team. “Ah. That’s Rob Sullivan, our Fire Prevention Officer, a recent member of the staff and the only eligible bachelor at the hospital – can’t you tell, the way the nurses make eyes at him? All the old maids see him as a last chance at a meal ticket!” He laughed.

Over the next few weeks Mary observed him and she liked what she saw: his easy-going manner, his infectious laughter, his apparent self-confidence, his good looks, Irish features – sandy-red curly hair and freckles – rather opposite to Edward with his dark hair and flashing dark eyes. Rob was neat and slim, 5’9″ or 5’10″ – shorter than Edward by at least two or three inches, she thought. She also saw with her own eyes the coy looks and warm smiles bestowed upon him by the single nurses, whose average age was around 40. He’s a bit old for me, maybe mid-thirties, but he looks like fun. As a lark, she decided to capture him and steal him away from those eager nurses who so obviously vied for his attention; she had no intention of marrying him – at first. . . .

Chapter 29


Mary felt again the frigid cold of that February night in 1979, as she emerged stealthily from the front door of their suburban bungalow, arms full of clothes, and headed down the driveway to her car. The air crackled with cold and overhead the wide black sky was filled with icy stars. Thank goodness my car is parked behind Rob’s tonight. She slipped on the ice and nearly fell but managed to recover. I should’ve worn my boots. Throwing the clothes into the back seat, she decided she must go back for the boots and more of her belongings. He might not let me back into the house once when he finds out I’ve gone.

The note she left for Rob said, “I’m going to Tess’s. Will call you tomorrow.”

Driving through the nearly empty streets to her friend’s apartment in the east end of Ottawa, Mary had second thoughts. A sudden attack of nerves made her pull over to the curb, where she rested her head on the steering wheel for several moments. Am I really doing this? Leaving Rob after, what, nearly twenty-four years of marriage?

Maybe I should go back, but he might hear me coming back into the house and then there’ll be hell to pay. He’ll be furious. I won’t be able to explain . . . With a sick feeling she set the car in motion again. “I’ve got to do this,” she said aloud through gritted teeth. . . .

 ISBN 978-0-88887-449-8































Copyright 2012 © Esther Paul. All rights reserved.