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THE CONFLUENCE OF HOPE – SUMMARY

Hope is a dedicated mother and sister, a faithful wife and a professionally accomplished woman. But, when she discovers that her “perfect” husband Ben has been unfaithful to her, her world is turned upside down. Her new life circumstances bring her to a re-examination: What is it that she wants from marriage? What can she agree to and is it worth sacrificing the chance of a new love for the sake of the illusion of marital happiness? Searching for answers, the heroine experiences a renaissance and realizes that she has been a slave to numerous prejudices. And the idea of love, as it usually happens, is waiting in the place where she least expects it…

This is not just a story about a family, friendship, adultery, and the crisis of middle age, but also about an unplanned pregnancy and a relationship with a younger man. The heroes of this novel are seemingly ordinary people in whose actions we can all recognize ourselves – in their mistakes, hopes, steps backwards and, even more, forwards, and in their desire to find happiness and love. You will cheer for them as you would cheer for yourself.

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When life closes one door on you, don’t force it – another one will open. And another.

About the author

About the author
About the author – Ljiljana Šarac

Ljiljana Šarac (née Lazić) was born in Smederevo in 1971, where she finished high school. She graduated from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, majoring in Serbian literature and language, with general literature.
For twelve years, she worked in the transport company “Lasta” as a journalist, editor of the Lasta Magazine and in PR. Today, she teaches the Serbian language at the Stephen Dečanski Elementary School in Belgrade.
She is married and has two sons, Đorđe and Vojin.
She has been writing and publishing poems for many years and is a past winner of the Smederevo Orpheus prize. In 1997, the Smederevo Literary Club published a collection of her poems: Puppet of a Cocooned Soul.
She is a member of the Čukarica Literary Club.
The publishing house Evro-Book has published her novels I Dreamed of You Again (2015), Where Did I Go Wrong? (2016) and Wall of Secrets (2017).
This is her fourth novel.

Interview with writer and professor Ljiljana Šarac

Ljiljana Šarac, professor of Serbian language and literature and writer

Sometimes one life is not enough for us to do all the jobs that interest us, to visit all the places that attract us, to meet new unusual people who could be our friends. Having become aware of this, I completely changed my life around. The moment I started writing, I outgrew both the journalistic job I had been doing for more than a decade, and the teaching job, which I truly loved, but which had started to have limitations. I was seriously afraid of getting caught in a trap of routine from which it is so difficult to escape. I helped myself because the written word makes you as light as a helium balloon. It lifts you above everyday life and leads you to unimaginable dizzying blue heights. For writers, the sky is not the limit either. That game is dangerous and seductive but, above all, it is liberating. Writing, and any other kind of creativity, is a cure for the worries, stress, resentment, anger and fears that keep us in thrall to the 21st century.

Whom did Ljiljana choose for her heroes in her new novel “The Confluence of Hope”?

Professor Ljiljana Šarac

It seems to me that no one cares about the ordinary little man. Those at the top close themselves off within some elite untouchable circles.Intellectuals dare to call themselves that, separating themselves from everyone else, patting each other on the back, and we, the hardworking, honest, diligent mass are thrown into a cocoon, left to look on at those who praise themselves and we shrug.

Sometimes we wave at them in front of their eyes, to remind them of what real life is, but we quickly give up because,no matter, there is never any reaction.

That is why I’m writing. I write what I believe in and I know that it will keep my reader’s attention and that, when she puts the book together after reading it, a smile will tremble on her face.

It is easy to upset someone, to wrap them in grey or black; let’s do what is much harder and share optimism, tenderness, joy, a smile, a hug with everyone!

My novels embrace their readers.

That is why in “The Confluence of Hope”,main characterslook like our relatives, neighbours, friends: in fact, just like us. They wrestle with life like we do, carrying on their shoulders the responsibility to preserve family, marital love, friendly relations,all of which have been devastatingly devalued in recent decades.

When I devised the structure of the story, the heroes emerged beforemy eyes. They were a mixture of fiction and dear faces from my life. They are so alive and realistic that many will recognize themselves in some part.

It’s all there. The husband and wife, who have been married for a full seventeen years, the son who is adapting to the fifth grade; the story of the protagonist’s sister who gets pregnantin sight of her fiftieth birthday, a challenge that occurs when everything is usually settled in life.So, we build a home and become materially stabilized.And then, beautiful young people appear in our environment, a world that ourprotagonists fail to ignore … Doesn’t it all sound too familiar?!

Is this a book that is in line with the present? The relationship between an older woman and a slightly younger man?

This Balkan, traditionally patriarchal, society of ours is both unusual and predictable. No one is bothered by a man’s relationship in adulthood with a younger partner, but everyone will comment, or at least raise an eyebrow, towards a woman who has a younger partner. In the novel “Elder”, I always ask: what’s the difference?!

In this story, you stick to the present.In some previous books, your heroes were from the past and you intertwined what was and what is through time and space.

The previous three novels, published by the renowned Euro Book Publishing House, gave a unique stamp and tone to my work. They were a mixture of long-gone times and the modern moment. In them, those two narratives alternated. I Dreamed of You Again enabled us to peek into the fourteenth century and the family tree of the despot Đurađ Brankovic, with an emphasis on the fate of his wife,DamnedJerina (Irina Brankovic). The second novel, Where Did I Go Wrong? draws onthe story of the unusual and misunderstood Serbian prince Đorđe Karađorđevic, the son of King Petar the First. The Wall of Secrets reveals the biography of the wonderful, beloved, noble and little-known Serbian princess Jelena Karađorđevic, Đorđe Karađorđevic’s sister. Jelena was married to Prince Ivan from the Russian royal imperial family, the Romanovs, and she was loved, respected and called, with affection, the Sorceress in St. Petersburg…

There are still untold stories that would fall into that model, but all my attention seemed to be occupied by this modern and intriguing one, so I decided to dedicate myself to it, even if it briefly betrayed the expectations of my readers. I hoped that the “Elder” would be refreshing, a surprise, which it has turned out to be.

Do you remember the moment when the inspiration came to write a new novel?

The situation, when I got the idea, was unusual, that’s why I remember it. I was sitting in a hair salon, getting prepared for the promotion of my novel in Andrićgrad. I was flipping through women’s magazines and came across an article about cougars. I read it twice, trying to remember it as best I could, and realized that the topic had found me.

Who are cougars or predators?

The name wants us to think that these women are hunters who are stalking young prey. A cougar is a cat that is a predator, a hunter. In the modern world, this name has been used to describe a very different phenomenon. Cougars are ladies accomplished in their careers, financially secure, moving in influential circles and socialising with famous and important people. They enter into relationships with younger partners unencumbered, relaxed, without high expectations or great demands.

Their relationship reminds me of Pygmalion. A young man can learn a lot from such a partner. He is not burdened, has no obligations, and is not bound in any way. The relationship lasts as long as they are nice to each other. His world, thanks to her is broadened and it offers him many important and useful contacts.

The end of the relationship is by agreement, without great drama, division of property or worries about to whomthe child will belong. The paths diverge in an instant, and everyone continues on their own way…

How did you create the main character?

It was clear to me that I should, first of all, characterize Hope’s psychological wellbeing and put her in a wider family and social context. To understand her, we must look into her world. I made an effort to tell a story that would intrigue us, and invite us to follow it with impatience and excitement to the very end.

Where is love found?

She who is open and ready to give love will find it. There is no point in sitting at home and complaining, consumed by loneliness and resentment. Socializing, going out, travelling, all create opportunities for love to occur. For this wonderful miracle to happen, when Cupid’s arrow hits us, a little effort is needed! You have to spread your arms and say: I’m here. Ready to love and be loved!

(RYL  MAGAZINE)