> Zed Book Club / Singleton Christina Ford Goes ‘In Search of Mr. Darcy’ and Meets a Bunch of Duds

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Singleton Christina Ford Goes ‘In Search of Mr. Darcy’ and Meets a Bunch of Duds

In a Q&A with the former Toronto film executive about her memoir, she talks about her worst proposals, deadbeat exes and what comes next / BY Rosemary Counter / July 3rd, 2024


“Who are these men I’m attracting into my orbit? Was I deliberately looking to ruin my life?” former Toronto film executive Christina Ford writes about one of many rock-bottom dating moments detailed in her debut memoir, In Search of Mr. Darcy. This was in Barbados, where at least the scenery was nice – if not the boyfriend. Some personal lows include the ex who accidentally set her home on fire and being dumped by her decade-long boyfriend via text. Yes, text. 

Luckily, Ford has a great sense of humour. When I tell her she might have the worst taste in men of anyone I’ve ever met, she bursts into laughter. I know we’re good to go, as we’re about to get personal about a lifetime of horrible exes and terrible decisions. Here’s one: At 21, when a boyfriend proposed while driving, despite her internal voice screaming “Hell No!,” her regular voice said, “Of course I’ll marry you, Brandon.”

Brandon is a pseudonym, as are John, Jackson and Edward, all names Ford borrowed from Jane Austen; a major source of her misguided romantic ideals, along with Disney and Julia Roberts movies. Unlike an Austen novel, none of these fellows deliver, and there’s no happily ever after. Unless you count the single mom’s current surprise state as happily single. 

The 60ish (as she says, “old enough to know better and young enough to not give a damn”) former owner of Toronto’s Imported Artists Film Company moved to London for love in 2016, where she reinvented herself as a writer and started a popular blog, A-Broad in London, a survival guide to life, travel & being sensationally single.” 

In Search of Mr Darcy has been winning awards and garnering rave reviews since its 2023 publication in the U.K., where Ford lives when she’s not in Toronto. The morning after the Canadian book launch, I chatted with the author about becoming an accidental memoirist and to get a play-by-play of all her proposals, from bad to worse. 

 

Christina Ford

 

Rosemary Counter: Good morning. Sorry I missed the party last night, but how did it go?

Christina Ford: It was so much fun! It was a combination book party and this-is-your-life moment. I invited all the people who made it into the pages of the memoir, within reason. Then all these other people showed up, like this guy from high school, who told me, “I came to thank you personally for changing my life. I was so shy, with low self-esteem, and you were my first real kiss.” All I can remember is that he was in my theatre class. 

RC: Was he cute? Single? “The one who got away” would be a great addition to your boyfriend roster. 

CF: Maybe for the sequel. People have been asking if anyone got away, but literally no one did. Unless you count that guy, I guess. My 20-year-old niece said, “Aunt Christina, I think you’re a bad chooser.” I said, “Yeah, I think that too.” We only have this one lifetime, and I’ve learned so many lessons that are more important than finding a life partner. Nothing was a mistake, because it all brought me right here. If you took away even one of them, my life wouldn’t have worked. My last relationship, even though the breakup was so weird and colossal, brought me to London and to writing. 

RC: He broke up with you after 10 years with a text message. I’m angry on your behalf. 

CF: Yup, that’s how it happened. I was in Muskoka [Ont.] at the time; he was in London. So he sent the breakup text and then stopped talking to me for months. This is a grown-up man! We lived together! A few of his friends were there last night, actually. So it should be fun. If he does read it, he’ll never say anything. The moment he says something, he outs himself to the world. 

RC: How did you decide to write a memoir? Was there any hesitation there? 

CF: I moved to London not knowing what I was going to do next. I’d left a busy life in Toronto, where I’d been working full-time since high school, running a production company, being a single mom. I suddenly had a very small life in a very big city, and plenty of free time, so I decided to start a blog. I just assumed only people who loved me – or hated me – would read it, but a literary agent found it and reached out about writing a London guidebook. Then my relationship went sideways, and all that started coming out in my book whether I wanted it to or not. Before I came to London, I’d never written anything but angry emails.

RC: Your first proposal happened in a car, and it got worse from there. Any way you’ll walk me through them?

CF: I’d love to. I just wish for one time when someone proposes to me and I’m happy about it. I knew the first one was coming, and I was just trying to avoid it. I thought I’d been really smart by dodging him all day on Christmas Eve, then he got me in the Volvo. It was dark and dreary and cold. We were stopped at a stoplight, and I turned over to look at him, and he had the ring box in his hand. I’m thinking “Hell no!”…but I said yes. 

RC: If only you listened to that voice…

CF: Oh, I know. He was such a good human being, and I have nothing bad to say about him whatsoever except he was not my guy. But, I thought, he’s a good man and I could do worse. And I did! My next proposal came from Jackson, the alcoholic. This was shortly after he’d accidentally set the house on fire. That was the end, but you never leave then; you leave six things that happen after that. But first, on the night of my 30th birthday, he gathered all my friends. He’d made this lovely video of my life in photos and he sang You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby. All of a sudden he was down on one knee.

RC: That sounds like it’d be so great in a movie … and so bad in real life.

CF: Julia Roberts could make that moment work, but I was so awkward and it was awful for me. I think he chose that moment deliberately, because he knew I wouldn’t embarrass him in front of all those people. I don’t count this as a real engagement, by the way, although I did keep the ring. 

My next proposal was from John, who proposed to me over a hundred times. I’m not exaggerating. When I finally decided to accept, I had this idea to have “YES” printed on a T-shirt and pick him at the airport. Only he didn’t get it, because Canada was in the middle of the Quebec Referendum, and he thought it was a political statement. 

RC: And yet, still not your worst proposal. 

CF: Edward made a lot of money but was super, super cheap. I had a white witch feeling he was going to propose on Christmas so that he wouldn’t have to buy two presents. It was a Tiffany eternity band with diamonds all around, and he wanted me to wear it on my wedding finger like we were married, which was kind of a problem because he was already married. Why would I want to pretend to be married? He tried again the following year. We were under the Christmas tree when he presented this ring to me, and the first thing he said was, “So how are you with a prenup?” I knew right then that I’d never marry that man. 

RC: My God. You should just stay single. 

CF: You know what? I’m deliciously single right now, but also open to all sorts of things. The next person who comes into my life is going to be there because I want him to be, not because I need him. I don’t need him for money or validation or because I’m lonely or so I can travel. I can do all of those by myself, or with my friends, and I’m not lonely in the least. He’s got to be someone who adds to my life, and I will add to his. Maybe I’ll meet him today. You never know. 

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