“The consequences for me … well, I never considered them at all. Years later – the hospital … the kind doctor, Henry – I saw the truth.” The Velveteen Daughter, pg.25
At four years old, Pablo Picasso declared Pamela Bianco’s drawings, “incredible … such commanding for one so young.” Picasso wouldn’t believe the work had been done by a child, until he sat with Pamela and watched her draw.
Laurel Davis, Huber’s novel, THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER (SheWritesPress) tells the story of Pamela Bianco, child prodigy and daughter of Margery Williams Bianco, best known for writing the classic story, THE VELVETEEN RABBIT.
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. …” “Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you’re Real you don’t mind being hurt.” THE VELVETEEN RABBIT
When I’m asked what my favorite book is, I always answer THE VELVETEEN RABBIT. The simplicity and profundity of its message, never ceases to touch my soul. It made Margery Williams Bianco an international celebrity, but at one time, her young daughter’s talent overshadowed Margery.
Young Pamela was thrown into the Art World at a young age by her father, Francesco Bianco who recognized her brilliance. Margery was more hesitant, she worried about the stress of international fame could inflict upon her daughter.
“She gave my shoulder a squeeze as she passed by. But I didn’t look up. I find every way to avoid it, but the truth will look me right in the face: there is madness in my daughter’s eyes.” The Velveteen Daughter, pg.5
Pamela began suffering from depression at the beginning, always anxious and afraid she wasn’t living up to the expectations of her overbearing father. She pursued an obssessive love affair with a family friend, which never was consummated and went on to be hospitalized several times.
The narrative of THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER tells the complete story, alternating between Margery, Pamela and Francesco. The Biancos traveled in a very glamorous circle in the early 20th century. Margery’s niece, Agnes married playwrite, Eugene O’Neill, and the famous art benefactress, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney insisted on bringing Pamela to New York from Europe. Pamela eventually marries, has a son named Lorenzo but suffers heartache her whole life, never really experiencing true love.
While reading THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER, I had this constant feeling of how ironic it was for Margery to write about “what’s real” and for her only daughter to live a life of intense real pain and suffering, only to be institutionalized at the time of her death in 1944.
I was left with a sad feeling that Margery and Pamela were never able to honestly communicate. Margery constantly worried about her daughter, but her husband and Pamela’s father, Francesco created a barrier between the two women. I wonder what would have happened, had Margery stood up to Francesco and had been the mother Pamela needed.
Author, Laurel Davis Huber’s research is extensive and provides a novel, I hope all readers will take the time to immerse themselves in. They won’t regret it.
In Laurel’s own words:
Personal stuff, in a nutshell:
I grew up in Rhode Island and Oklahoma. I’ve been married more than once. My most recent marriage is twenty years old, and so I think it’s not too much wishful thinking to say that it seems to be working. I was a single mother for fourteen years, and have a stellar, marathon-running son and two awesome grandchildren. I am also a proud stepmother and step-grandmother of four daughters and six grandchildren.
I take very long walks. I carry a pen and notepaper with me as I seem to get a lot of creative ideas and writing problems worked out along the way.
I have a thing about cemeteries. Always have. Drove my son crazy on road trips, though once I showed him how to find military graves from the Revolutionary War (spurred by my Benedict Arnold work-in-progress obsession), he could look at it as a treasure hunt and then it was sort of fun.
I think that’s enough.
For more information on Laurel, check out her incredibly interesting website http://www.LaurelDavisHuber.com
Thanks to Laurel, we have one copy of her novel, THE VELVETEEN DAUGHTER to giveaway. Just tell us your thoughts of how madness and genius relate. We’ll announce a winner next week.