Divorce After Death. A Widow’s Memoir is gaining a lot of attention for its warmth, honesty and humor. We have a Q & A with Concha Alborg where she talks about her reasons for writing this memoir and what she hopes readers will take from it.
Tell us about Concha Alborg?
I was born and raised in Spain. My father was also an academic and a writer, and he brought his family to the United States when he came with the Fulbright Program. It was love at first sight with this country for me, and I stayed. I married very young and didn’t finish my undergraduate degree at Georgia State University, until I already had two small daughters. Once I completed that degree, I never stopped. I did my Masters at Emory University and my Ph.D. at Temple University, both in Spanish Literature. I taught at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. I retired to so that I could be a full-time writer five years ago. I have published two books since then, American in Translation. A Novel in Three Novellas and Divorce After Death. A Widow’s Memoir. My second marriage to classical guitarist, Peter Segal, is the basis for this memoir.
I am fortunate that my two daughters have settled in the Philadelphia suburbs and I have them and my three grandchildren close by.
How do you think your bi-cultural background influences your daily life and attitudes?
More than anything else, my Spanish upbringing determines who I am. I feel perfectly comfortable in Spain and in the United States, but I’m a little different in both. A tell-tale accent marks my language as well as my writing. I’m always looking at events from a different point of view. I’m always comparing and contrasting. Consequently, I’m very open to other cultures and languages and I love to travel. I’m probably one of the few people who love airports. In fact, I think that I’m most comfortable when I’m in an airplane flying to Spain or coming back. That’s the only place where I seem to belong, in transit, like so many other immigrants.
Writing about widowhood is becoming more common, but your memoir brings a new perspective. How do you think readers will respond to your book?
I think readers will relate to my memoir on many levels. It can be because of their own experiences in marriage, divorce or losing someone dear. Anyone who has loved could see themselves in my book; they don’t need to be widows. Hopefully, everyone will be able to smile and enjoy the journey. Despite the seriousness of the topic, the style of the book is full of humor and irony. I’d like to think that it’s similar to Nora Ephron’s style, since she also had to deal with betrayal.
Your memoir shows no bitterness on your part. Did you ever harbor anger or bitterness and if so, how did you eliminate them from your life?
This is not a self-help book, but we all know that anger is not good for the body or the soul. The sooner we can forgive and forget, so to speak, the better off we are. I was angry at first, of course, but I don’t want to think that the twenty-five years I knew my husband were a waste. They are an important part of my life, and they have shaped who I am today.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that my situation, as painful as it was, is so unique. Many people have secrets when they die which are left for the family to deal with. I read a book, shortly after I discovered the truth about my late husband’s life, Anatomy of a Secret Life. The Psychology of Living a Lie by Gail Saltz, and it helped me tremendously.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book? What brought you the most joy?
The most difficult part was writing the letter that titles the book. My therapist asked me to write it, since I could no longer speak with my dead husband. Once I saw myself on the page, I started to heal. The most fun has been dating again and writing about it.
What do you hope readers will take away from your memoir?
Hopefully my readers will think that, like so many other women, they can be strong, they can thrive and be at peace, whether it’s after a divorce, betrayal or even the death of a spouse.