From Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, to Jonathan Franzen’s THE CORRECTIONS, and just recently, Jennifer Vanderbes’ STRANGERS AT THE FEAST, unhappy families have been a staple of literature all over the globe. What, or who, put the “y” in unhappy, in dysfunction? Canadian author Lee Kvern mines this question with a brutally honest sensitivity in her intimate family portrait of Lloyd and Jacqueline Burrows and their three children–“four, if you count Sylvie.”

September 5, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Canada, Contemporary, Family Matters, y Award Winning Author


At first I thought this book was not for me as a male reviewer, for its focus is so much upon its central female character and her roles as daughter, wife, and mother. But I soon found Dori Ostermiller gripping me with her writing, and her uncanny ability to plot the emotional seismograph of a woman on the brink of an affair. “I want to ask if she ever felt she was falling through her life, pulled down through dream and memory by a force larger than gravity. I want to know if she felt the splintering pain of it — a terrible, fruitful pain like birth, a pain you can’t stop because you have to know what’s on the other side.”

August 19, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, NE & New York, Reading Guide

A SCATTERED LIFE by Karen McQuestion

Motherhood gets explored in A SCATTERED LIFE, by Karen McQuestion. Skyla lost her own mother when she was a girl, and with that loss began a itinerant life with a father who had to move around to find work. Married for a few years, she has settled down to the suburban life she dreamed of as a child, and is the mother of a four-year-old daughter named Nora. Her orderly and more-than-a-decade-older husband, Thomas, and she were always in agreement that they would only have one child.

August 10, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters

MY WIFE’S AFFAIR by Nancy Woodruff

If you’ve got a hot work project with an overdue deadline, a soccer game that you simply must attend, or any “must do” commitments in the next couple of days, whatever you do, DON’T pick up this book. It will grip you, entice you, and place you under its spell. And in the end, it just may break your heart.

July 22, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, United Kingdom

THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE by Josephine Hart

What can one say about Irish writers? Deep into this book, here’s what Josephine Hart says: “A city that had produced Joyce and Beckett and Yeats, a country that produced poet-heroes and more priests and nuns per head of population than almost any on earth was not going to spawn boys who just wanted to stand before a packed hall of gyrating teenagers and strum their guitars and sing. They had to have a message. One of salvation; they were in it to save the world. Like I said, we’re teachers, missionaries.” And then, a few pages later, as a character summarizes a reading experience: “When I finished the book I thought, language–that’s his real subject, not history.” When you read sentences like these, in a book like this, you sense you’re on to something special. The Irish writers take themselves seriously. They are bent, as noted above, towards the mission–with style.

February 21, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Contemporary, Literary, World Lit

BLOODROOT by Amy Greene

Somewhere, in the darkest and most remote part of Tennessee, lie hollers, ridges, and knolls. Set among them is a place named Bloodroot Mountain, home to Myra and her granny. The mountain gets its name from the bloodroot flowers that grow there. These flowers are so toxic that they can cause death. They are also so curative that they have amazing healing powers

January 21, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Family Matters, Literary, US South