In the movie La La Land, Mia (played by Emma Stone) auditions with a song called “The Fools Who Dream.” The song describes her aunt who lived in Paris and jumped in the river barefooted during the winter. The lyrics go: “Leapt, without looking, and tumbled into the Seine. The water was freezing, she spent a month sneezing, but said she would do it again.”
This is the cinematic backdrop for the theme of Gervais Hagerty’s new book, In Polite Company. It is the jewel one NY Times best-selling author described this way: “Here is the captivating story of a contemporary young woman navigating the expectations of family, the traditions of Charleston’s elite, and the fierce pull of her own heart. This is a beautiful debut novel.”
Gervais will present her new book live on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at 7 p.m. at the “Meet the Author” event at Georgia Writers Museum. The museum will serve heavy low-country hors d’oeuvres prepared Charleston style. Tickets are $45 per person ($40 for two or more). Contact Georgia Writers Museum for reservations, or visit www.georgiawritersmuseum.org.
The first 25 people to register will be eligible for a drawing to win a signed poster of one of Hagerty’s “destined to be famous” cartoons. Move over, Flannery! Author Flannery O’Connor started her career as a satirical cartoonist!
Now, back to the book. In Polite Company focuses on Simons Smythe, a born-of-wealth woman in upscale Charleston who is expected to live the life of a debutante. It includes marrying Mr. Bigshot and settling for a life of manners, parties, and being Mrs. Bigshot. It is a life that demands she quash her real personality and safeguard her privileged family’s reputation.
Simons, on the other hand, wants to jump in the Seine River, so to speak, that is, pursue purpose beyond her position of privilege. As a news producer with a local TV station, she can boldly espouse the truth, even to the point of getting the station in trouble. But what about living a life true to herself, not one that others expect? This fast page-turning book races through her triumphs and crashes. Bolstered by her encouraging grandmother, she learns the most important life to live is not through acquiescence, but through bravery.
Born in Georgia, Gervais Hagerty and her family were close friends with Georgia Writers Hall of Fame honoree Anne Rivers Siddons. Gervais spent much of her childhood in Charleston, SC, and earned her B.A. in Psychology from Vanderbilt. She also earned an M.B.A. from The Citadel, where she soon became a professor and she taught Leadership Communications.