June 14, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
When I was a junior in college, I treated my creative writing seminar to a story that was, even by my standards, bizarre. (I don’t mean experimental, or particularly interesting, by the way—just peculiar.) It was a piece of—well, I guess you’d call it fan fiction, or maybe real person fiction, about the later life of Kay Thompson, the performer and author of Eloise. If memory serves, this opus was set in Portofino, and involved Thompson descending into madness. (There was also a gay companion.) It was completely fabricated and also terrible. That story is, not tragically, lost to the mists of time. But I was excited to see that I am not the only one indulging in speculative Eloise fiction! In a piece on “Five Spinoff Novels I’d Love to Read,” Edan Lepucki writes:
When I was younger, I didn’t wonder much about the parents of Eloise, the six-year-old heroine who lives with her British nanny in the Plaza Hotel, putting sunglasses on her dog Weenie and combing her hair with a fork. Now when I read the book to my son, I think about them a lot. It’s wealth that allows Eloise’s mother to neglect her daughter, and it’s the mother’s absence that haunts the book. What do we know of the woman? Eloise tells us that she is 30 and has “a charge account at Bergdorf’s.” Her mother knows Coco Chanel, and has AT&T stock and “knows an ad man whatever that is.” Sometimes she goes to Virginia with her lawyer. Eloise’s father is never mentioned. (Is the lawyer Eloise’s dad, and Eloise just doesn’t know it?) I’d love to read a novel narrated by Eloise’s mother. She’s a rich fuck-up, to be sure, maybe a functioning alcoholic with a penchant for Bloody Marys at breakfast and champagne every afternoon. She loves her daughter, but can’t stand to be around her for more than a few minutes. She jets off to Milan, to Paris, forgetting to remember her offspring back in Manhattan. There would definitely be a strange and/or degrading sex scene involving the owner of The Plaza.
We may be a match made in heaven!