By Cindy Mindell
AVON – Marcy Hammer’s life has been turned upside down. Her husband, the head of a global brassiere empire, didn’t think twice about leaving her after 33 years of marriage for a 32DD lingerie model. Now “Harvey the Home-Wrecker” is missing in action, but Marcy’s through thinking about what a cliché he is. What she needs now is a party-size bag of potato chips, a good support system, and a new dress.
Striking out on her own is difficult at first, but Marcy manages to find traces of humor in her heartbreak. Even while devastated by Harvey’s departure, she still has her indomitable spirit and her self-respect. She has no intention of falling apart, either, even when her adult children drop a few bombshells of their own and she discovers a secret about her new, once-in-a-lifetime friend. Life may be full of setbacks, but by lifting herself up by her own lacy straps, Marcy just may be able to handle them all.
This is the premise of Lift and Separate by first-time novelist Marilyn Simon Rothstein, issued earlier this month by Lake Union Publishing. The milestone fulfills a life-long dream for the 63-year-old Avon resident and grandmother of three.
Rothstein will introduce her novel on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Beth El Temple in West Hartford, at an event sponsored by the Beth El Women’s Network.
Rothstein is no stranger to the writing life. Raised in New York City, she graduated with a journalism degree from New York University and worked for Seventeen magazine until 1978, when she moved to Avon with her husband, Alan. There, she launched an advertising agency, which she ran for more than 25 years while raising her two daughters.
All the while, Rothstein continued to write fiction. She earned a master of arts in liberal studies degree from Wesleyan University, and instead of a thesis, wrote a novel that was nearly published, “but no cigar!” she says.
“After I retired from the agency business, I decided to go back to fiction-writing and began what became Lift and Separate, the story of a Jewish woman forced to re-start her life after her husband, the bra king, leaves her for a perkier fit,” she says. The manuscript led to a two-book deal, with a second novel about protagonist Marcy Hammer slated for publication in January 2018.
Raised in an Orthodox community, Rothstein says, “Judaism is integral to who I am, and who I am is in the book I wrote.” She recently earned a master’s degree in Judaic Studies at UConn and has long been a “proud member” of Beth El Temple, which she calls her “home away from home.”
On Shabbat, she can be found sitting on the left side of the sanctuary in an end seat. She enrolled in the first-ever adult bat mitzvah class at the temple, where she met some of her closest friends. Recently, she became involved in the Women’s Network, helping to plan weekend retreats.
Rothstein is known in the West Hartford Jewish community for her work with youth. She is past president of the board of Yachad Greater Hartford Jewish Community High School (now Jewish Teen Learning Connection). For more than 10 years, Rothstein and her husband were co-advisors of the United Synagogue Youth (USY) group at Beth El Temple in West Hartford.
“It was a volunteer job but one of my favorite things to do ever,” she says. “We spent many Saturday nights making peanut-butter sandwiches for homeless shelters, and supervising mini-golf, laser-tag, and bowling parties. I got the biggest kicks out of our weekend camping excursions and I loved the bus trips to Boston and New York. It makes me very happy when I run into or hear about the teens I worked with in USY, who are all in their 30s now.” Both Rothstein daughters, Sharyn and Marisa, are past presidents of Beth El Temple USY.
Rothstein is not the only writer in the family; her daughter, Sharyn, is a New York-based playwright and a writer for the USA cable-network series, Suits. “So I guess you can say that I followed in my daughter’s footsteps,” she says.
Lift and Separate was born of the author’s longtime fascination with relationships: families in crisis, mother-daughter rapports, friendship between women.
“As for the brassiere theme, I wear one!” she says. “I love to make people laugh and hopefully, the new book will do just that.”
Lift and Separate with author Marilyn Simon Rothstein: Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 PM, Beth El Temple 2626 Albany Ave., West Hartford | Free and open to the community; RSVP required: firstname.lastname@example.org / (860) 233-9696.