Susan said, Cliff said
August 27, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
Accomplished novelist Susan Branch’s latest work, a memoir very thinly disguised as fiction, provides readers a rare look under the covers and into the marriage and divorce of one of San Luis Obispo’s former prominent couples. Though the names of many of their friends, colleagues, and companions have been changed, some Central Coast residents will be able to easily discern the characters’ real identities.
“The names have not been changed to protect the innocent since there was very little innocence going on, except, of course, for me,” Susan Branch writes.
“The Fairy Tale Girl” is a memoir about romance, infidelity, and starting over based on her tumultuous marriage to — and inevitable divorce — from entrepreneur Cliff Branch. Sue’s 15 novels and cookbooks have sold more than 3.5 million copies.
In her current book, Susan describes the 70s version of Cliff as young, handsome and successful — but a wayward husband.
“Girls threw themselves at him everywhere he went, but not quite as enthusiastically, it seemed to me, as he threw himself at them,” Susan writes in her novel.
In those days, Susan said, women sought monogamy, while their husbands wanted subservient wives. And with the sexual revolution and the woman’s movement, neither sex was getting what they wanted.
In his second book published in May 2015, “American Made,” Cliff is vague about the cause of his breakup from Susan. “All I can say about our breakup is that we were young, and the matrimonial part of my brain had not fully developed.”
Susan is much more forthcoming.
“Sooner or later I’d see the situation for what it was, and what it was, was usually blond,” Sue writes.
In his book, Cliff said he was the “inspiration Susan needed to move across the country to Martha’s Vineyard.” Sue, however, talks about the heartache motivating her move.
“Of course – big fish, little pond – our breakups were fodder for the gossip mill in our little town and hard to escape,” Susan writes. “Everyone wanted to talk to me about him, asking me how I felt, and what was going to happen.
“How could I know? I wasn’t in charge. I would put on a fake brave face, cry buckets with my girlfriends, get a job as a waitress, go on fake dates and out fake dancing while Cliff romped around SLO with his new girlfriend in his Lamborghini or whatever zippity-doo-dah car du jour he had at the time.”
While Cliff and Susan may not have been the best match as a married couple, they have remained good friends for the past 30 years. Nevertheless, Cliff admits he remains a bit nervous about Susan’s latest book, which will be released next week in book stores and on Amazon. The book can also be order now at SusanBranch.com and Cliff’s book can be ordered on Amazon.