Monday, September 9, 2013

Tragic Lives

The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Secrets and lies suffuse generations of one Pennsylvania family, creating a vicious cycle of cruelty in this historical novel that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s. Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all. There's his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian. For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. He finds a friend and mentor in Aidan Madsen, schoolmaster, local Revolutionary War historian, musician and keeper of the Grayson women's darkest secrets. In a skillful move by Fullbright, those secrets are revealed through the viewpoints of three different people-Aidan, Francis and Francis'stepdaughter, Elyse-adding layers of eloquent complexity to a story as powerful as it is troubling.

Review: A story of tragic lives, lies, abuse, depression, and deceit told through the eyes of three people.

The story of the Grayson family and those they are closed involved with is a tragic one. There is so much death, deceit, secrets, abuse, and fear. Everyone is flawed, some much more than others. The stories of each person: Francis, Aidan, and Elyse each take their own viewpoint and are told in different times. Each viewpoint added something to the overarching storyline although most of it is bad or depressing (the events, not the story writing). It does take a little bit to bring the three stories together, but when it does, it's certainly eventful.

The person I felt most sorry for was Elyse. She didn't do anything wrong to deserve her stepfather's abuse although she seems to be the most sane person in the whole story. I did feel a little sympathy for Francis because of what he had been through, but it doesn't excuse his actions. Aidan was a person who never wanted to see the truth and focused heavily on the past. I was amazed by the mental illness and sheer amount of personal denial and deceit that ran through the family.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to those that enjoy stories about tragic families.

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