Marta Bjornstad is the chillingly robotic narrator of Emma Chapman’s psychological thriller, How to Be a Good Wife, a disturbing portrait of a woman whose mind may be playing tricks on her. After twenty-five years of marriage, Marta’s existence is tightly regimented: She shops, cooks, cleans the house, does laundry, and tends to her husband, Hector’s, needs. The title is derived from a book of the same name filled with platitudes about how a perfect spouse should behave. Marta’s controlling and overbearing mother-in-law, Matilda, presented the book to her sons’ young bride as a wedding gift, expecting Marta to dutifully memorize every page. One example of the book’s contents: “Your husband belongs to the outside world. The house is your domain, and your responsibility.”
The simple plotting of Larry Watsonâ€™s Let Him Go â€“ the quest of Margaret and George Blackridge to reclaim their young grandson, who lives with his mother and rotten-to-the-core stepfather â€“ belies the strong emotional impact of this exquisitely powerful book.
December 31, 2013
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 2013 authors, Life's Moments, Milkweed, Motherhood, North Dakota Â· Posted in: 2013 Favorites, Character Driven, Contemporary, End-of-Life, Literary, Wild West
Koren Zailckas’ Mother, Mother is a tale of psychological horror–a savage portrayal of a narcissist, Josephine Hurst, who lies compulsively, shamelessly manipulates her family, and tries to destroy anyone who crosses her. This disturbing story is told in alternating chapters by twelve-year-old William Hurst and his sixteen-year-old sister, Violet. William is mommy’s prissy little boy whom Josephine home schools (he has been diagnosed with autism and epilepsy) and infantilizes; Will is completely dependent on his mother and will do anything to stay in her good graces. Violet, on the other hand, is a rebel. She chops off her hair, takes mind-altering substances, and refuses to be intimidated by Josephine’s sick behavior. Josephine’s husband, Douglas, is, for the most part, an ineffectual bystander who gives his wife free reign. Missing from the picture is twenty-year-old Rose, whom Josephine was grooming to be a famous actress. Rose left home abruptly and never returned.
December 28, 2013
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: Crown Publishing, Dysfunctional, Mental Health/Illness, Motherhood Â· Posted in: Debut Novel, Family Matters, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense
n a blog that she wrote for the Huffington Post, Lea Carpenter notes that eleven days was the period of truce negotiated between King Priam and Achilles in the Iliad after the death of Hector — an encounter movingly narrated by David Malouf in his novel Ransom. It is an appropriate reference for many reasons, not least the almost classical values that Carpenter both celebrates and espouses in her storytelling; this gripping debut novel is immediate in content, ample in moral perspective, rich and thoughtful in its human values.
Who is Ines, an illegal African migrant who embarks on a hazardous sea crossing to Italy and Germany in search of her stolen son? At first, she is a total enigma; we keep wishing there was, indeed, more of her to see. Slowly and painstakingly, her inner identity is revealed in this haunting new book by Lloyd Jones, author of the acclaimed MISTER PIP.
The quotation shows Margaret Leroy at her best, describing the ordinary routines of everyday life, in a strongly realized setting, and an acute emotional sensitivity. The place is Guernsey, one of the British Channel Islands nestling off the French coast between the arms of Normandy and Brittany. The time is 1940, when the islands came under German occupation, after being more or less abandoned by the British as indefensible. The sadness comes from the fact that man of this little farm has been one of the few inhabitants killed in the bombing that preceded the invasion. One of the very few, actually…