MR. CHARTWELL ON SALE TODAY!
A Letter From the Author: Rebecca Hunt
The central premise of Mr. Chartwell is that Winston Churchill’s ‘black dog’ of depression is imagined as an independent character, free to walk, talk, and stalk others as he did with Churchill. The book follows the charismatic but menacing black dog – called Mr. Chartwell, but known as Black Pat by his closer acquaintances – as he weaves his devious influence into the lives of Churchill and Esther Hammerhans, a young widow. In different ways, both Esther and Churchill are approaching the end of deeply significant relationships, and the dog arrives to plague them as they face their challenges.
Depression is an intensely personal affliction, and I felt personifying it as Black Pat provided me with an opportunity to translate the emotions of the characters affected by his presence as dialogue, engaging them in conversation about their situations. It may be an unusual way to broach such a difficult topic, but I was immediately struck by the possibilities this opened up to me. There is no such thing as a definitive description of depression, I believe it varies with the individual, but I wanted to create a version of depression which was honest and true to my personal understanding of it. Using the dark and dynamic character of Mr Chartwell gave me a vehicle to explore Churchill and Esther’s circumstances in greater detail, and in many ways, with a more accessible expression of the sensitivity I felt towards the subject and characters.
I was also struck by how perfectly the ‘black dog’ description can be used to capture the nature of depression. It takes the typical characteristics of a dog – the loyalty and attachment, along with the predatory and instinctual aspects – and converts them into something corruptive. This dog takes the image of man’s best friend and reverses it, becoming a jealously devoted companion who works against you from within you. However, for all this, Mr Chartwell isn’t just a book about depression. It is equally about redemption, courage and love. And, for me, it is predominantly and most importantly about hope.