‘Portsmouth’ fuses local history with new love story
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
Books that contain significant amounts of local history often fall into one of two categories: boring and tedious, written for the few old-timers who enjoy reading about the landscape of their childhoods, or excessively trivial and cute, pasting in local history as the backdrop for a predictable dime novel.
“Portsmouth: A Love Story” written by R. Ann Rousseau, avoids both categories. It traces the lives of two main characters, both New Hampshire-natives, who are crossing over into what seems like a typical love story between two young people, Peter Nicholas and Severine Champagne, using Portsmouth and nearby towns as its setting.
The twists and turns that follow create a novel that will leave the reader cliff hanging. The barriers against the lovers are many, from young attractive women, “gold diggers,” who would love to entrap Peter into premature marriage, to Severine’s unstable employment that forces her to move almost across the country.
Rousseau, who said she has many connections between her own life and that of the female protagonist, has lived in New Hampshire since the early ’80s. As an accountant for big-name firms in Boston, she found herself unemployed during the 2008 financial crisis and had nothing to turn to. With the encouragement of friends, she set out to write, first starting a blog. Soon, ideas for a book emerged.
Fiction was unfamiliar territory for Rousseau, who had always written non-fiction and book reviews. Drawing on support and criticism from both local and national groups, her novel slowly emerged. It was published in August 2012.
According to Rousseau, her inspiration for using Portsmouth as the setting for the novel came from her love for the city.
“I have lived here since 1982 and have really fallen in love with the city,” Rousseau said. “I wanted to write something that [would] take the reader to a better place at the end, a sort of feel-good story.”
“Portsmouth” shows how unexpected turns in people’s lives can play out for the better. According to Rousseau, this same idea impacted her life; had Rousseau not lost her job, she would have missed her calling as a writer.
Readers familiar with the Seacoast area will be thrilled by the references to familiar locales and Rousseau said she hopes outsiders will gain a better understanding of area and fall in love with it.