Today, Sutherland House released A Perfect Nightmare: My Glittering Marriage and How It Almost Cost Me My Life, by Karen Gosbee. This one means a lot to me. Not only is it Karen’s deeply personal story covering important issues of abuse and addiction, but it was the last project I worked on with the late and wonderful Anne Kingston, who helped Karen with the manuscript.
Anne was the first person I approached for help with the book and she was into it immediately, not surprisingly given her interest in family dysfunction and feminist issues:
Anne and Karen spent a lot of time together, mostly in Banff, and produced a terrific first draft before Anne became ill last year. We were just about to start the editing process when her condition took a turn for the worst and in an astonishingly short amount of time, we lost her. Both Karen and I are immensely appreciative of the work she did, and we both miss her greatly as a friend. For those unfamiliar with Anne and her work, we wrote about her in this newsletter.
The media attention for A Perfect Nightmare has been intense. The National Post, the Calgary Herald, the Calgary Sun, and the Globe & Mail all devoted big space to it last week. Here’s a bit of what the Globe said:
George Gosbee was the famous Calgary financier and philanthropist who made millions in oil patch deal-making before he turned 40. He founded two mid-size independent investment banks, AltaCorp and Tristone, and was the onetime co-owner of the Arizona Coyotes. He was a key character in the story of Alberta’s halcyon days, when oil prices were high and capital was plentiful, and a friend to billionaires and political leaders. Calgary was shocked when he died by suicide in November, 2017. It only emerged in the weeks and months afterward that the 48-year-old had long been suffering from a number of mental-health conditions, and addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Three years later, his widow Karen Gosbee is telling a detailed and harrowing account of the couple’s life together in her memoir, A Perfect Nightmare: My Glittering Marriage and How It Almost Cost Me My Life. The book was co-written by the late journalist Anne Kingston and will be published by Kenneth Whyte’s Sutherland House on Oct. 20.
In her book, she provides a rare glimpse into a world of extreme wealth – replete with fox hunts in the English countryside, luxury-goods shopping sprees and a calendar full of black-tie charity events. But beneath the well-manicured exterior, she says there were her husband’s crippling addictions and insecurities, and a boomtown culture that cultivated sexism and infidelities – where some women such as Ms. Gosbee were kept on a financial leash by their rich husbands. She started writing a journal because she wanted proof of her existence. “I was increasingly aware of how I was viewed as an extension of George.”
Ms. Gosbee also reveals for the first time the emotional abuse that led to several instances of physical abuse at the hands of her husband – that she feared for her life – and that he killed himself days after she asked for a divorce. Much of Mr. Gosbee’s business success came from the fact he was a born salesman. But that strength had a dark side, allowing him to manipulate personal situations to his advantage, like talking down the two police officers dispatched to the house that night in 2011.