The Good Life?

Their pursuit of a picture-perfect marriage nearly cost Susan and Mark Wheeler everything—including each other.
The Good Life?

Susan Wheeler, an artist, can tell you all about marital bliss, beginning with a couple known as Edmond and Victoria Rose Boxwood.

They begin the morning with a picnic breakfast in a country meadow. Then they bike into town and spend the afternoon browsing through quaint shops and buying flowers from sidewalk florists. Later, they enjoy dinner by candlelight at a romantic French bistro and complete the day with a stroll along the river and a kiss in the warm glow of the setting sun.

Nothing could be more romantic. The trouble is, the couple with this picture-perfect marriage are rabbits, not people. Susan's paintings of the Boxwoods and other charming animals have captured the imaginations of hundreds of thousands of greeting-card buyers. Her art also appears on journals, gift packaging, nursery bedding, stationery, balloons and other products. The world she creates, known as Holly Pond Hill, is an elegant, cheerful place where rabbits host tea parties and mice waltz in starlit ballrooms.

It's a world born out of Susan's dreams. And it's the same dreamlike place that, several years ago, became Susan's refuge from the turmoil of her real-life marriage. How could a creative, artistic woman who was so in love with romance get stuck in a marriage teetering on the brink of divorce?

Dream or Nightmare?

Susan first met Mark Wheeler when she was fresh out of high school, and theirs was a classic love-at-first-sight story. Their courtship and early years of marriage went smoothly, in keeping with Susan's dream of what romance should be.

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