Cohoes author Pauline Gray’s “fictional memoir” is not always what it appears to be.
On the surface, “On Eagles Wings: A Story of Love, Loss and Survival” seems to be a pretty straightforward story. But tucked into this story is a mystery novel.
Gray, 79, a retired nutritional consultant and counselor, began writing the love story in 2003. She describes life in New York City and later New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Norfolk, Va., as a young Navy wife. She talks about buying a first car, having to find housing and combating rats and large cockroaches in San Juan.
She details throwing parties and looking to get everything just right, from decorations to the perfect menu. There are plenty of friends, get-togethers with family and adventures along the way.
The impetus for the book was to memorialize the life of a loved one.
‘On Eagles Wings: A Story of Love, Loss and Survival’
AUTHOR: Pauline Gray
PUBLISHED BY: Tate Publishing, 229 pages
HOW MUCH: $20
“There was something that was deep in the recesses of my heart that prompted me to put this life on paper,” Gray said. “I had fun writing the beginning because I was really deep in thought and reminiscing and pulling back all the fun times we had.”
But like any life, it wasn’t all laughter and happy times. It was comingled with sadness, too. The loss she thought she had dealt with well and healed from surfaced in the crafting of the novel.
“Writing the book dredged up the pain all over again,” Gray said.
Nevertheless, Gray was driven by love to put the story down on paper. Her book chronicles the lives of three generations of family members, including Gray’s parents and extended family. It explores family dynamics to which readers can relate. For instance, she shows how family members in the younger generation become spread out and less connected as they make their way on their own. Gray also describes how she needed to care for own parents, even expanding her parents’ home in Cohoes so that she could move in and care for them, a situation with which many can empathize.
She also shows the effects of loving and then losing a loved one, which is a universal experience.
“I realize that there are people on a daily basis, whether it be here or in some foreign land, who are losing their loved ones,” Gray said.
She details the heartache that she endured while at the same time encourages readers to pause and rise above the difficult times in their lives.
“If just for one brief moment you look beyond your pain, you’ll see yourself above the clouds,” she said.
“I think it presents a well-rounded reflection on love, life and everything that comes with it,” said Gray, who has been doing book signings around the Capital Region. “We all know that our life is filled with all sorts of emotions, happy times, testing times, sadness. I’ve tried to capture this on the pages to provide a thought-provoking read for anyone with an open mind.”
In between the happy times and the difficult ones Gray portrays in her book, she inserted a mystery, the answer to which isn’t revealed until the final chapter. She wanted to write it in a style reminiscent of Hitchcock: “You thought that you had the person all figured out, and then there was this complete and utter switch at the very end,” she said.
Gray gives clues to the mystery throughout “On Eagles Wings,” but it just might require a second read through to catch them.