Synopses & Reviews
Green Vanilla Tea is a true story of love and courage in the face of a deadly and little understood illness. With literary finesse, compassion, and a powerful gift of storytelling, Marie Williams writes poignantly of her husband Dominics struggles with early onset dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 40, and how their family found hope amidst the wreckage of a mysterious neurological condition.
As the condition develops and progresses, the normally devoted family man and loving partner seems to disappear beneath an expressionless facade, erratic behavior, and a relentless desire to wander that often leaves him lost. The road to diagnosis is long and confusing, and what starts off as perplexing for the family then becomes frightening. The man they love is changing, and no one seems to know why. He no longer turns up to his sons high school events. He falls and bumps into things. He becomes verbally disinhibited, emotionally disengaged, and, at times, belligerent. He doesnt seem to be able to read the social cues of other people. He gets lost in familiar places, as well as on obsessive work trips overseas. He recklessly spends the family money, leaving them in near financial ruin. Despite this, Williams and her children strive to find new ways to keep him safe and to connect with the husband and father they love so dearly.
While the family learns to cope with Dominics illnesswhich they call the Green GoblinWilliams is determined that her children reclaim the dad of their memories. She finds creative ways to make visible the stories of the man beyond the illness, and helps them remember him as the engaged, healthy, and loving man she fell in love with. She humanizes the experience through storytelling and assembling a quilt made up of transferred photographs, painted artwork, family footprints, and personal inscriptions from family and friends. This, along with tea rituals, music, and stories of fatherhood, love and value, support them as fierce advocates for Dominics dignity and give the family new ways to be together as they journey through his decline. Spanning between moments of intense joy and incredible sadness, this book is a passionate testament to one familys unconditional love for one another. It is, a tale of a strange placethe real world in which green goblins and hope find a way to live together.”
Above all, it is a love story.
I dare you to read Green Vanilla Tea
and not fall in love with this family. Marie Williams has written a beautiful memoir about facing illness and loss with love and hope. She has opened her familys life and experiences to us in a way that will help us stay in touch with the richness of life and relationships, even in times of heartbreak and the loss of dreams. Thank you, Marie Williams, for this extraordinary love story.”
Jill Freedman, MSW, family therapist and director of Evanston Family Therapy Center in Evanston, Illinois, as well as coauthor of Symbol, Story, and Ceremony; Narrative Therapy; and Narrative Therapy with Couples
This beautifully written memoir of a husband and father who suffers a premature death is also a story about how families and communities cope with the ambiguous loss that precedes the physical death of a loved one. In the words of a young child who was part of the nurturing community that surrounded Dominic, we will crowd you with our love. Insightful, heart-rending, and inspiring, this book offers the details of a family's life shattered by Dom's years of decline and death from a rare neurological condition. While particular about these people, Green Vanilla Tea
provides lessons about love, care, generosity, and sadness. With unflinching descriptions of the darkness and despair the family faced, the book also shows their path toward solace and hope. Movingly, it shows how they were able to repair and restore a sense of wholeness to their interrupted lives. I highly recommend this brave book.”
Kaethe Weingarten, PhD, associate clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School (1981-2013) and director of the Witnessing Project at www.witnessingproject.org
Heartbreaking, compelling, warm and compassionate. Its a knockout book that hits so many of the right notes and is completely relevant in todays world. And its unbelievablyconsidering the tragedyuplifting. An inspiring read.”
Susan Duncan, author of Salvation Creek
"[I was] moved by the tragedy of the story, and the love and trust and care and kindness everybody showed.”
Jacqui Kent, editor and author of The Making of Julia Gillard
Nobody has the right to have the last word on a book as beautiful as this. There would be few who have loved and cared for a person with dementia who will not be able to relate to the many moments of acute sadness, laughter, and joy in this book.”
Ita Buttrose, AO, OBE
Green Vanilla Tea
is the winner of the 2013 Finch Memoir Prize and its easy to see why. Williams has written a powerful and heartbreaking account of her husbands illness, and the challenges faced by the family, which never loses sight of the immense love that binds this family together. This is an inspiring and important memoir.”
Sarina Gale, Books + Publishing
The standard of the entries we receive improves every year. Marie won against some fierce competition including finalist Heath Landers book The Bouncer,
which we will publish later in 2013. However, the judges agreed that Green Vanilla Tea
was the standout entry this year, making us laugh, cry, and above all, reflect on the value of love and family.”
Rex Finch, Finch Publishing
“Vulnerable and vivacious, Wide Open
is a deeply personal, beautifully written tale of one woman’s erotic journey to find herself and keep her family together. Gracie X bares her soul in this gripping memoir filled with pain and pleasure, growth, endings, and new beginnings. I couldn’t put it down!”
—Elisabeth Sheff, author of The Polyamorists Next Door: Inside Multiple-Partner Relationships and Families (2014), and editor of Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families (2015)
“Gracie X has written an honest and engaging memoir about taking one of the biggest risks of her life—opening up her marriage despite warnings from friends and loved ones to not ‘rock the boat’ and her own fears. While honoring both her deep commitment to her husband and children and her reawakened sexuality, she shows us that, yes, we are capable of loving many people and receiving love back, as well as creating a marriage that is unique to our needs—a valuable lesson for all of us, whether polyamorous, monogamous, or monogamish.”
—Vicki Larson, award-winning journalist and coauthor of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels
“For anyone who’s curious about how to approach polyamory or open relationships with your partner, Wide Open
is a must-read. Gracie X graciously lays out her complicated journey in a funny, honest, and relatable way that will inspire others to follow their heart. Redefining the family and relationship model is not an easy task; however, Wide Open
gives you hope that through honest communication, emotional maturity, and patience, anything is possible.”
—Natalia Garcia, director and creator of Showtime’s Polyamory: Married & Dating
“I was moved by Gracie X as she shared a tender, passionate, and vulnerable memoir that inspires as it warns. This book is a must-read, authentic addition to the literature on open relationships and polyamory. As an intimacy counselor, I recommend her book for those who wish to experience the real-life joys, sorrows, challenges, and gifts of alternative relationship.”
—Francesca Gentille, contributing author of The Marriage of Sex and Spirit, radio host of “Sex: Tantra and Kama Sutra,” and relationship and intimacy counselor
“This is a remarkable book. At a time when liberals and conservatives alike are embracing marriage and the nuclear family, Gracie X sends us a life raft—the bold chronicle of her quest to create a family configuration that works for her, her husband, new lover, and children. Gracie X is not only creative and brave—she is also a consummate storyteller. Be prepared for a riveting tale of her journey into intense new love while her marriage simultaneously evolves and realigns itself. For anyone weary from the dry, didactic tone of poly how-to books, this memoir provides a wealth of information about the triumphs and tribulations of exploring polyamory. And it is an indispensable resource for those seeking to forge a new way with their partners and families, expanding the bounds of even polyamory itself.”
—Ann E. Tweedy, poet and author of Beleaguered Oases (CreativePress 2010) and White Out (Green Fuse Poetic Arts 2013)
“To open her kimono and share how one woman and two families made sense of the paradox that is love, sex, family, intimacy, and honesty in our modern lives, is an act of tremendous courage and generosity. Her sassy, relatable, sexy truth-telling burns away the tarnish that convention can leave on our hearts. Even if our journeys look different than Gracie X’s (as indeed they should), let us stand up and shout out: Viva the moxie of Gracie X to open her heart and her mouth. Say it, sister!”
— LiYana Silver, mentor for Women’s Embodiment: Bringing Your Feminine Genius to Life (http://liyanasilver.com)
Green Vanilla Tea is a true story of love and courage in the face of a deadly and little understood illness. With literary finesse, compassion, and a powerful gift of storytelling, Marie Williams writes poignantly of her husband Dominics struggles with early onset dementia at the age of 40, and how their family found hope amidst the wreckage of a mysterious neurological condition. Spanning between moments of intense joy and incredible sadness, this book is a passionate testament to one familys unconditional love for one another.
This is the funny, sexy, and provocative memoir of one womans journey to find sexual fulfillment and create a new family model that includes herself, her lover, her husband and his lover, and their kids. In a world where women often feel pressured to be everything to everyone, Gracie X courageously strives to have it all. From dabbling in polyamory to adopting an open marriage, X eventually discovers how to have the family she wants, the love she needs, and the sexual freedom she has been craving. At once revealing, poignant, and controversial, Walcott shines light on life outside the traditional marriage box.
A funny, sexy, and provocative memoir of one womans journey to find sexual fulfillment and create a new and unconventional family model that really works. From exploring polyamory to adopting an open marriage, Gracie X shines a fascinating light on life outside the marriage box.
When Gracie met her husband at the age of twenty-three, she fell deeply in love. Their relationship was based on making art and meeting each others emotional needs. Their life together was stable and loving, but after twenty-five years and two kids, Gracie simply wanted more sex.
Thats when she met Oz. Gracie wasnt looking for another manshe was committed to making her marriage work. But as her friendship with Oz grew, she became increasingly attracted to him, and found herself yearning to stretch the boundaries of her life. What if there was a way to be with Oz and not destroy her marriage? Was polyamorythe practice of having more than one lover with all parties consentthe answer? Or would Gracie have to look beyond relationship labels and simple definitions of sexuality?
In a world where women often feel pressured to be everything to everyone, Gracie courageously strives to have it all. This is the true story a woman who learns how to finally put herself first, while still holding together the family she deeply loves. Its the story of a woman who felt sexually frustrated by marriage, and who had the courage to form a new relationship dynamic and create a chosen family that included herself, her new lover, her husband, his lover, and their kids.
At a time when society no longer imposes many sexual taboos, why is open marriage still considered beyond the pale? Written by Gracie X, Wide Open is an enthusiastic, honest, and sometimes raw account of one womans experience living polyamorously within the context of her average American family.
Gracie Xa suburban mother of twohas been married to her loving husband, Hank, for 25 years. The problem is that their once-vibrant sex life has shriveled to nothing. Meanwhile, she has fallen in love with another man, for whom she has an overwhelming physical yearning. Frustrated and conflicted but determined not to give up her hard-won home life and wonderful husband, she is desperate for a creative solution. Can she somehow keep both men in her life without resorting to divorce or dishonesty?
A friend introduces Gracie to polyamory: loving and being faithful to more than one person at a time. Poly,” it turns out, is a whole new world, with dedicated counselors, parties, and dating sites. Convincing Hank ended up being the easy part: he quickly found a girlfriend and accepted Gracies terms. Their children, although upset at first, adjusted to having their parents special friends” around, and having Hank and his girlfriend in one duplex, with Gracie and her new boyfriend, Oz, next-door, seemed like an inspired solution. But would trying to go poly create as many problems as it was trying to solve?
In her candid and provocative memoir, Wide Open, Gracie details the years she has spent exploring the poly lifestyle and creating her chosen family.” A fiercely intelligent feminist, she challenges traditional ideas about monogamy, fidelity, and sexuality. From swinger parties and strip clubs to sex toys and pornography, this is an edgy and thought-provoking read. Yet erotica and tenderness share space here, with Gracies true love for both Hank and Ozas well as her two childrencoming through very clearly.
Wide Open revealswith humor, integrity and hearthow one woman blended love, sex and marriage in unconventional ways and found the fulfillment she was looking for.
About the Author
is a writer, actress, and director. She lives in Northern California with her former husband Hank, her current husband Oz, and their children.
Foreword writer Carol Queen, PhD, cofounded the Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco with her partner, Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence. Queen is also staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, and author of Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture.