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Friday, November 13, 2020

The Long Tail of Trauma by Elizabeth Wilcox

 #bookreview

From the book’s blurb: “The Long Tail of Trauma covers the lives of five generations of the author’s maternal ancestors from 1904-2018, through Europe and America. The long tail refers to multigenerational family trauma that begins near Liverpool before World War I and continues through Operation Pied Piper and the PTSD era in America.

The author’s journey becomes an exploration into attachment and the legacy of maternal trauma on intergenerational mental health and relationships. Through documenting her forebears’ stories, author Elizabeth Wilcox gives us a greater understanding of what a mother must overcome to erase the epigenetic stain of early childhood trauma.”

My reaction: This is a very hard book for me to review. All advance reading about the book led me to believe that the book was a straight memoir. Then I read the last sentence of the foreword which says, “So here follows an imagined history of maternal memoir that is my attempt to find truth.” Completely truthful or truthful to an extent? Truth as the author sees makes sense to me. It is the author’s memoir of her mother’s trauma brought on by her grandmother’s traumatic experience.

In any event it seems to me that there were many circumstances that were extremely traumatic, but there  were also many events and circumstances which I did not see as extremely traumatic but were described as if they were. So, there were many times I would say why can’t she let that particular event go and move on. It felt as though there was too much introspection and dramatization. 

Ultimately, I was drawn into the story and let go of my reservations and understood the depths of the agony better. The story tells of generations deeply affected by trauma that begins with the first generation and carries through to the next two. This is something many may see in their own lives, but, thankfully,  not with destructive background of two world wars among other things.

I see this book as more of a psychological family exploration than I do as historical fiction.

3.5 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars.




Sunday, October 18, 2020

Fannie Flagg’s The Wonder Boy of the Whistle Stop Cafe

#bookreview 

If you are a Fanny Flagg fan, you will probably love this book. If you are a reader who has never read Fanny Flagg but you’ve heard about her and her great writing, you may find the beginning of this book a little slow, and you might even start to wonder what all the Fannie excitement was about. There is a lot of background, told in snatches, catching us up with beloved characters which Fannie’s fans will love. But for others so much back story update makes for a slow beginning. Once we get into the story of Buddy in his older years, the book becomes very interesting and for many very relevant. At that point it moves right along and once again you care about families and characters. 

And of course, we all Would like to see The Whistle Stop Cafe restored to its unique glory. Is that possible?

For Fanny Flagg friends this book should be a five star but for those trying to get to know Fanny this book will probably be a low four-star so I am going to give it four stars.

Now available everywhere.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Only Gift...It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Dear friends, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We should strive to let victims know they ARE NOT ALONE!  During these Covid months there is a heightened concern for victims. Lets Encourage them to ask for help. 

In conjunction with the month I am releasing my latest novel, THE ONLY GIFT, a novel of abuse and survival in the early 20th Century.

This is a novel that I was encouraged NOT to write. It’s the story of spouse abuse. I was told that since I had no experience with abuse, I should not write about it. This made me stop and think and for a while I put the manuscript in a drawer and walked away from it.

As months passed, the story and the characters just kept calling to me, so I took it out of the drawer and finished the story. My mind kept repeating,  “I didn’t have first hand  knowledge of what it was like being in the 10th mountain division, or what it was like to grow up as a black woman in Alabama, but still I wrote those books.” 

Quite frankly The Only Gift is my favorite work of mine. I love the characters and how the main character overcomes her abuse, escapes, and becomes a strong, talented woman. Yes, it is a book about abuse! But it is more, it is a book about strength and survival. 

I researched, I studied, and I talked to many, many women who went through some kind of abuse. I had the book read by women who were abused and by women who were not abused. I have had good responses from all of those women. I was encouraged to finish the book and not to change the scenes of abuse which are very graphic and harsh. The setting is 1895–1952, the rural South and west coast Florida. It is a novella, not a full length novel, only 30,000 words. A shortread. 

Because I do not want anyone to read the book who will internalize the story and be upset by it, I have included a cautionary note on the back cover of the book, on the first page of the book, and on any advertising for the book. I will add a cautionary note every time I talk it. I tell such readers which two chapters to skip if they don’t want to read specifics about the abuse.

How it came about: I once heard the story of a woman who left her husband and children and disappeared for over 20 years. When she returned things did not go as she imagined they would and she ended up in a psychiatric hospital, know locally as the insane asylum or mental institution. When I thought about her life I wondered why she left her family for all those years. Where was she? What was she doing, etc? I made a list of reasons why she might have left, and the only reason that I could find that was strong enough for her to leave not only her husband but also her children was spouse abuse. 

I was awake day and night as my mind wrote one scenario after another. THE ONLY GIFT is the result of that feverish activity. Mallie, our main character, rightly fears for her life, but after a miraculous escape, she slowly begins to heal, grow and be stronger. Along the way, she discovers a talent she did not know she had. 

After years of healing, she returns home and is then admitted to the asylum. Her new found talent grows and saves her from becoming the kind of patient that we often imagine will be in a mental institution. The talent gives a purpose, gives her strength that she didn’t know she had, and helps her cope until she dies at the age of seventy-four. 

One of the early readers said she liked the way Mallie grows and the way her life develops while she is in the institution. She said she hoped that anyone who is abused and anyone in a mental hospital might finally have a life like Mallie’s for it was a positive life.

I wanted you to be aware that the book is now available, but that I don’t want you to read it if it will upset you. For those who will read it, I hope you will come to care about the characters as I https://www.amazon.com/Only-Gift-Julia-Faye-Smith/dp/1099608384/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-drs-ajax1_0?cv_ct_cx=The+only+gift




Kindle and paperback.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

No Place Too Far by Kay Bratt...grab it!

#bookreview 

From the book’s blurb: 

After a year on the move, single mom Maggie Dalton has found a safe haven with her    son In Maui. It’s the perfect spot to settle down now that her relentless stalker is finally behind Bars. Maggie finds a new job and a new life thanks to some help from her best friend, Quinn, who urged her to come start over in paradise. But when signals suggest her stalker Is back, Maggie realizes Maui might not be the safe oasis she thought.

 Quinn knows all about facing the past. Tenuously reunited with her biological family after     thirty years, she’s still coming to terms with her childhood—along with guilt, secrets, and      mysteries yet to be resolved. And just as she’s starting to figure out where she fits in with     her family, a name from the past threatens them all.

 With that fear comes a choice for both women: abandon the lives they’ve been building on     Maui, or find the courage to finally stop running and fight for the happiness they deserve.”

   MY THOUGHTS: 

Two good friends living in paradise. What could go wrong? Well, in No Place Too Far quite a bit goes wrong. This is the second book in the By The Sea Series. We meet old characters and new  as the book follows the stories we came to know in the first book and skillfully adds new characters and their adventures. Although part of a series, the book can stand alone,

In No Place Too Far, Maggie’s struggles take precedent over Quinn‘s. Maggie is running from a stalker trying to protect herself and her young son.  What better place to do it then on a Hawaiian island near her best bud, a quirky new neighbor, and a handsome, joke-loving, surfing boss? Her stalker is still in prison back on the mainland, isn't he? And who is that inappropriately dressed man approaching her son further down the beach?

Meanwhile, Quinn, who has reappeared on Maui after being out of the family loop for 30 years, is having a hard time coming back into the family dynamics without causing problems for others, and she does not want to cause problems. Should she leave her family and paradise again? 

Although I like both back stories, I actually liked Quinn‘s best, but I was happy to read about Maggie and her troubles in paradise. I love the life lessons that her brothers taught her and how  she used them to her advantage.

This is a well written, lovely story. So do yourself a favor grab a copy and enjoy. Published September 1, 2020. I was happy to have a pre-reading copy of this fine book.



                                     Available at all major outlets beginning September 1, 2020.

 

 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray...I'm waiting impatiently!

July 14... Flag Day in France. It is also cover reveal day for a new book by Stephanie Dray, author of My Dear Hamilton. I wanted to whet your appetite for her new book, Women of Chateau Lafayette with this blurb about the book and also share with you the cover. Book has three strong women heroines in three different difficult periods of history. Book not available until next year! Here's the blurb and cover. You can pre-order #stephaniedray


ABOUT THE BOOK

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in three of humanity's darkest hours.

Most castles are protected by powerful men. This one by women...

 A founding mother...

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband's political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must choose to renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary...

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Astor Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing--not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France and delivering war-relief over dangerous seas, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what's right.

 A reluctant resistor...

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan's self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together in honor of those who came before us.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Enjoy How Lulu Lost Her Mind

#bookreview

From the books blurb:
From New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson comes the story of a mother-daughter journey to rediscover the past before it disappears forever.

Lou Ann Hunter’s mother, Patricia, has always had a passionate nature, which explains why she’s been married and divorced five times and spooned enough male patients to be ousted from three elderly care facilities. She also has Alzheimer’s, which is why she wants to spend the rest of her life surrounded by childhood memories at Sutton Hall, her family’s decrepit plantation home in Louisiana.

Lou Ann, a.k.a. Lulu the Love Guru, has built an empire preaching sex, love, and relationship advice to the women of America—mostly by defying the example her mother has set for her. But with Patricia suddenly in need of a fulltime caretaker, Lou Ann reluctantly agrees to step out of the spotlight and indulge her mother’s wishes, even if it means trading in her Louboutins and Chanel N°5 for boots and mosquito repellant.

Upon her arrival at Sutton Hall, Lou Ann discovers that very little functions as it should—least of all Patricia’s mind. And as she adjusts to this new and inevitably temporary dynamic with the help of a local handyman and a live-in nurse, she is forced to confront the reality that neither her nor her mother’s future is going according to plan.

Heartrending at times and laugh-out-loud funny at others, How Lulu Lost Her Mind is the book for everyone and their mother. Fans of Emily Giffin, Kristan Higgins, and Jill Shalvis won’t be able to forget it.

#bookreview
 How Lulu Lost Her Mind was a delightful read that was not only full of humor but that also contained several important messages. Lulu, AKA the "love guru," has a decision to make, what to do about Mama. I found the colloquial situations and vocabulary interesting. I was moved by Lulu's plight, one many readers will face, and by her eventual acceptance of what she must do. Once she accepted the inevitable she was able to see what a treasure she had in her mother. This a book about love in its many forms.

Thank you netgalley for sending this delightful novel my way.


Available wherever books are sold.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Murder at Melrose Court proved to be a wonderful distraction.

#bookreview

From the book's blurb:
'Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie with a touch of Wodehouse and a dog of distinction.'
It's 1920 and Christmas is coming. Major Lennox finds a body on his doorstep - why on his doorstep? Was it to do with the Countess? Was it about the ruby necklace? Lennox goes to Melrose Court home to his uncle, Lord Melrose, to uncover the mystery. But then the murders begin and it snows and it all becomes very complicated....

Major Heathcliff Lennox, ex-WW1 war pilot, six feet 3 inches, unruly dark blond hair, age around 30 - named after the hero of Wuthering Heights by his romantically minded mother - much to his great annoyance. Murder at Melrose Court is the first book in the Lennox series.
My Review:
Murder at Melrose Court by Karen Baugh Menuhin proved to be a
wonderful distraction from WWII historical fiction, cozy "happily ever after" stories, and Coronavirus isolation. The characters were funny, and oh, so British gentry, at least to this American reader, and quite likeable.

Not one but two murders to solve and several suspects I wanted to find guilty. The resolution was complicated but realistic when explained.

The cold winter setting was portrayed effectively. I wanted to grab a cup of hot tea by a blazing fire and join the fun at Melrose Place.

This was a lighthearted, entertaining story. I recommend it as a change of pace and a pleasant escape.  I would add that the book is reminiscent of a Woody Allen, Pink Panther caper. Don't take the words murder mystery too seriously.

This is the first of four books in this series.  I bought my copy online.