Winner of the Royal Palm Award!
As a child, Leini stands ready to do anything to win her mother Mira’s love. This effort costs her the sight in one eye and as a result, causes her to endure bullying from kids her own age. As a teenager, with her Grandpa’s help, she undergoes one more surgery to straighten her eye, but the psychological scar of the events of her childhood remain.
Leini struggles to break free of Mira’s tyranny by leaving her native Helsinki to study psychology at Geneva University. A few years later, married, herself about to become a mother, she is determined with her own children not to repeat Mira’s behavior. With the help of a psychiatrist, she labors through the pains of past hurts to become a nurturing and loving mother and wife, as well as a successful professional, as she grows from victim to victor over adversity. Can her efforts lead her to the one thing she needs to discover the most - the ability to forgive her mother?
PRAISE FOR THE WOODEN CHAIR:
The Wooden Chair is a beautifully written period piece. When I began reading, I didn’t stop until I turned the last page. Ms. Golay’s descriptions are so powerful, the characters so true to life, they’re unforgettable. Leini’s journey from an emotionally abused child to a self-confident woman should be read by all who’ve suffered any form of abuse and persevered. Quite the most powerful novel I’ve read in years." --Suzanne Barr, Author of Fatal Kiss
The Wooden Chair took hold of me in the first paragraphs and never let go. I kept expecting—and wanting—someone to rescue Leini from her wildly unpredictable mother who told Leini she wasn’t wanted. Leini’s disappointments and longings as she faced serious issues for such a young girl kept me engrossed. I wept at Rayne Golay’s vivid descriptions of Leini coping in an unfair world, and I rejoiced at her remarkable quest to change, at her acceptance as she grew into adulthood. Rayne’s high quality writing in The Wooden Chair makes it an emotionally charged read, a compelling story of one woman’s valiant struggle to grow away from past hurts. A triumphant story! --Elizabeth (Bettie) Wailes, Author and Editor
Helsinki, Fall 1947
Somebody had turned off the wall light, so the long corridor to Leini’s suite of rooms was dark. She stumbled, but managed not to land on her knees by leaning against the wall. Must be Samy who’s switched off the lamp. For her sake the light was supposed to be on day and night, but Samy—the little beast—never missed an opportunity to cause her trouble. As she opened the door too the suite, she found him kneeling on her desk chair, his head with its shock of blue-black curls bent over some papers. As she approached, she discovered him busy doing artwork with crayons on her piano score.
Red dots flickered before her eyes. Her whole body shook from anger that Samy was in her room, handling her things.
“What do you think you’re doing in my room?” She couldn’t help but shout. Her loud voice made Samy jump. As she drew closer his guilty look turned sly.
“I can be here if I want to. Mamma says I can do anything I want.”
“No, you can’t. Papi’s told you over and over you’re not supposed to be in my rooms. Now you’ve ruined my piano score! And my crayons.” She held out her palm with a few mashed colorful batons. “Look at them! You’ve crushed them against the paper, now they’re useless.”
He stared at her out of large eyes, a smirk on his rosebud of a mouth. With his broad, stubby fingers Samy broke a crayon in half. “So what? It’s only paper and a few silly sticks of wax.”
“You stupid boy, they’re expensive. Papi bought them for me.”
Leini grabbed him by the arm. Almost six years his senior, she was taller and stronger. With a yank she pulled him from the chair. His behind hit the floor, and he started howling at the top of his voice. Kneeling next to him, she shook him.
“Keep quiet. Samy! Shut your mouth.”
He screamed even louder.
“What’s going on here?”
Rising to her feet, Leini faced Mamma as she advanced on her. Mamma pulled Leini by the ear and twisted it, a burning punishment that hurt for several hours. Gathering Samy in her arms, Mamma crooned to him tender words of comfort. Setting Samy on the couch by the window, Mamma rounded on Leini.
“You hateful brat. How many times do I have to tell you to leave Samy alone! You’re older and should have more sense, but you behave like the ungrateful snot-nosed twerp you are.”
“He’s ruined my piano score and crayons. Anyway, he’s not supposed to be in my rooms when I’m not here.” Staring at Mamma, she tried to catch her eye, but Mamma kept her gaze fixed at a point above Leini’s head.
Mamma took a step closer, her hand raised to strike. “Don’t you dare talk back at me. How many times do I have to tell you a good girl doesn’t have fits of temper? Very obviously you’re not a nice girl.”
Leini faced her. She stretched to her full height, head held high, back straight as if she’d swallowed a rod. With lips pursed, she stared Mamma full in the face.
“I am a nice girl. I am not a brat or a twerp. Don’t say that again, Mira. Ever!”
Her voice was strong and firm, but her heart hammer hard in her chest and echoed at the base of her skull. She found it difficult to believe she’d dared defy Mamma.
This was the first time Leini called her Mira.
On that very day, at that precise moment, she ceased to look upon Mira as her mother. Mira was a woman who was a painful part of her life, nothing more.
Rooted to the spot, Mira leaned forward from the waist. Leini saw her arm raised to strike. She looked at Mira, an intent, unwavering stare. Their eyes met, measuring, guarded, engaged in a battle of wills. Mira averted her eyes first. She let her arm drop to her side.
“You’re to stay in your rooms tonight.” Mira’s voice was flat. “You’ll get your dinner on a tray.”
Good! Papi isn’t home, so I don’t have to watch Mira play with her food, and Samy eat like a pig.
“And don’t forget the appointment with the eye doctor tomorrow morning. I want you clean and dressed at ten sharp. Don’t be late, because I have to be at work in the afternoon.”
Leini had forgotten about the doctor’s appointment. At the reminder an iron fist squeezed her insides; her mouth was so dry her tongue was like a piece of leather. There had been so many visits to ophthalmologists in the past. The outcome was always the same—her eye problem was serious. No cure existed. She wore corrective glasses, but they did little to improve her vision.
When Leini didn’t answer, Mira took a step closer. “Did you hear what I said?”
“I heard you.” She didn’t add “Mamma,” as Mira always demanded.
Mira took Samy in her arms and with heels clattering on the parquet she slammed the door as she left the room.
For a moment Leini stood motionless. Hopelessness and fear roiled inside. She leaned her back against the wall and slid to the floor, arms encircling her knees. As long as anger burned within her, she didn’t hesitate to defy Mira, but now that she was calm again, she knew she was no match for Mira. I’m still afraid of her. She has all the power. Hot tears burned Leini’s eyes. Although she was shaking inside, not a sound escaped her.