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There are some stories that must be told, and told again, in an everlasting rehearsal of love, and betrayal, and regret.
-- Jeanne Larsen, Silk Road
My father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light
And he slept with a mermaid one fine night
--"The Eddystone Light"
Elizabeth Sidney, Oscar-winning actress and grande dame of Hollywood, known to all her friends as Liza Jane, is eighty. She “isn’t ready to go. She doubts that she ever will be, but she feels the tug as if someone is trying to hand her a rail ticket and the crowd is pushing her down the platform. So she’s making her will again, because this time she knows what she wants to say. . .”
An assortment of family and friends assemble for the funeral in a small town an hour from Los Angeles, leading to the spontaneous combustion that only the forced gathering of movie actors, actresses, directors, old and new flames, a rock star, and post-divorce combatants can produce. What follow, in this tragicomedy, are discoveries that will leave them all changed forever.
Among those who are most affected is Liza Jane’s neice, Libby Novak, who leaves her “normal” life in the East and returns to the turbulent and ephemeral world that encompassed her youth. Alex Murray, a Pittsburg undercover cop, finds his life upended when he is summoned to California as one of Liza Jane’s heirs. Producer-director Ben Zenovich and screenwriter Mike Rosen arrive to mourn the passing of their greatest star—and closest friend. The entanglement of their lives with Liza Jane’s produces consequences they could never have forseen.
Liza Jane is revealed through reminiscence and in a series of flashbacks that are as deft and as surely grounded as the character's indomitable spirit. From the days of silent film through the “blacklisting” of the McCarthy era, and beyond, the characters are richly portrayed, the setting vibrant, and the story poignant and familiar. For Liza Jane is, after all, a passenger on our train.
"...She sat moodily, trying to let herself mourn, and torn between sadness and aggravation at being hurled back into the maelstrom again. Hordes of people would begin arriving tomorrow from Hollywood, and probably from New York, flickering in and out, flamboyant and quarrelsome, moving from camaraderie to feuds to maudlin sentimentality with the ease of long practice, each on their own private stage.
[Pomegranate Seed is set in a thinly disguised version of Ojai, California, the author's home town...]
"There would be a steady parade of people from Ayala as well. Ayala was a small town only in the sense of geographic size. Otherwise it had seemed to Libby rather like living in a Fellini film, into the script of which a few hapless normal people had wandered by accident. Sixty miles from Los Angeles, it was a bedroom community for Hollywood, a colony of screenwriters and actors; a resort town whose Ayala Inn generally had a billionaire or two on the golf course; and a haven since the twenties for religious and philosophical movements whose followers had founded a number of interesting private schools. The one Libby had attended had felt that competitive sports were injurious to spiritual balance, and had fielded an exhibition folk dance team instead. Ayala was also small enough for Liza Jane to have had a finger in nearly all of its pies."
Tryon Publishing Company, 2002