Georgann Rea and Betty Draper

The heat in Los Angeles, whether seasonally warm summer heat or dry electrically charged Santa Ana wind heat, makes me think of my mother.  You feel confined by the LA heat–trapped in your air conditioning, behind shades or sheets or blinds; constricted by the air as the yellow sky clamps a lid on the city.  Joan Didion called it “Knife Sharpening Weather” referring to Raymond Chandler’s description of the Santa Anas as a time when normally meek housewives would sharpen their kitchen knives with an eye on the back of their husbands’ necks.   Knives, the threat of violence, out-sized inappropriate responses to external conditions all remind me of my mother, Georgann Rea.  Mother thought harrassing phone calls, baseball bats and getting someone fired were appropriate responses to teenage heartbreak.  It was a mothering instinct like Medea’s — ultimately all about my mother.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Betty Draper for the first time on Mad Men. They were/are both constricted by their time, society, roles but also psychology. Betty shares many of Mother’s qualities, and her actions and reactions–like the shooting of her neighbor’s birds in her nightgown, smoking a cigarette–are straight from Mother’s playbook. I don’t know if Betty will turn out to be completely psychotic but… stranger things have happened.


2 thoughts on “Georgann Rea and Betty Draper

  1. Ms. Lawless, I’ve just finished reading Chanel Bonfire and felt compelled to Google you to see what came up. I am delighted to see that you have a blog! I, too, love to write but I’ve never done anything with it other than to journal and write letters to friends (I’m called The Last of the Letter Writers). Your book was so very good. I had to “parcel” it out to myself while I read it–it was such a great read that I didn’t want it to end–as a way of making it last longer. I know that probably sounds strange. I mean it in the most complimentary way.

    What you endured through your childhood was horrific. How you managed to come through it without major emotional problems is remarkable. Your resilience is inspiring! There is a ton of mental illness in my family, both maternal and paternal, and I’ve had two breakdowns myself. The last breakdown taught me to stop wallowing in my depression, get help and stick with it. So I take my meds, practice yoga, mindfulness, see a psychiatrist every couple months and a therapist biweekly. Your story has vindicated what I feel: we can fight the craziness with all the strength we have and not succumb to it. I still don’t know how you and your sister did it, but I admire both of you so much. Your telling of it all has been such an absorbing read! I can’t wait to get my hands on your newest book, Heart of Glass. Yours sincerely, Kathleen Arof

    1. Hello Kathleen,
      Thanks so much for reading my book and for reaching out. I’m sorry for everything you have been through – but I also understand and am glad my book touched you. It is true that your past need not define you, as I see you have realized!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.