“Victoria: A Love Story”

By William C. Hammond

Tasora Books, Minneapolis, Minn., 2014

156 pages, trade paperback, $8.95

This little memoir by William Hammond — recommended to me by longtime Down East literary provocateur Sandy Phippen — tells the story of the first few years of the author’s life with his wife, Victoria. Families with brides-to-be may want to put it on their list of pre-wedding words of uplifted spirit because, really, it’s an extended prose encomium to a “soul mate.”

Addressing the couple’s grown sons some years after their mother’s departure from this life, Hammond brings to life the fundamental hopes many people hold for life, love and marriage. The narrative takes us from the pair’s first meeting — which is love at first sight, even though the author (in possibly the only disingenuous passage in the whole book) denies believing in such a thing — through their courtship, marriage, honeymoon, domestic life and his tribulations as a high-end publisher’s salesman.

The unabashed thread of the narrative is his admiration and love for Victoria, plain and simple. Right upfront he tells his sons: “On the day I married your mother, when I saw that beautiful woman walking down the aisle toward me on the arm of her father, I would have sworn on everything that is holy that I could not ever love her more than I did at that moment. … But I was wrong.”

From then through the birth of their sons a few years later, it is all flights of angels and difficulties surmounted. There’s “an enchanted evening” of dancing; a classic marriage proposal scene; awkward meetings with skeptical parents; numerous sumptuous meals, usually including “our favorite Bordeaux” or some other delight of the vine; marriage at the Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City; honeymoon with kooky disruptions; trips to the summer place on Mount Desert Island; adventures setting up housekeeping in Washington and Massachusetts; Victoria’s feisty, adventurous, winning personality; and, very chastely stated, the intimacies of a loving life.

It’s all so innocent-sounding in detail and sentiment (“truly loving another human being is a process that never ends. Because love never ends. Love never dies”) that you might think it was a modern day fairy tale — a phrase the author acknowledges could arise. You might think so, except for the fact that it is all apparently true to life. Bill and Victoria called each other “Dearheart.” A certain kind of nuptial hope and enthusiasm could really make you a fan of this book.

Into every life some rain must fall, and the occasion of the writing seems to be the author’s determination to preserve his beloved wife’s memory following her heartbreaking fight with cancer, to which she finally succumbed. The book makes dual pitches for donations to the Victoria K. Hammond Scholarship at the Kansas City Art Institute, Victoria’s alma mater.

William Hammond, a summer resident of Hancock Point, is retired from a career as a book salesman and publishing executive. His historical seafaring novels include “A Matter of Honor,” “For Love of Country” and “A Call to Arms.”

“Victoria: A Love Story” is available from the publisher and online booksellers.

Off Radar appears about twice a month in the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel’s What’s Happening? Contact Dana Wilde at [email protected].

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