Sunday, 13 October 2013

Novel Publicity Blog Tour; Review: The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright

Publication date: March 10th, 2012
Publisher: Telemachus
Stars: 4/5
Links: Amazon|Goodreads
DISCOVERY AWARD 2012, FICTION

"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. While Francis realizes his dream of forming his own big band in the 1940s, his success is tempered by the inner monster of his childhood, one that roars to life when he marries Elyse's mother. Elyse becomes her stepfather's favorite target, and her bitterness becomes entwined with a desire to know the real Francis Grayson. For Aidan's part, his involvement with the Grayson family only deepens, and secrets carried for a lifetime begin to coalesce as he seeks to enlighten Francis-and subsequently Elyse-of why the events of so many years ago matter now. The ugliness of deceit. betrayal and resentment permeates the narrative, yet there are shining moments of hope, especially in the relationship between Elyse and her grandfather. Ultimately, as more of the past filters into the present, the question becomes: What is the truth, and whose version of the truth is correct? Fullbright never untangles this conundrum, and it only adds to the richness of this exemplary novel. A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy's sometimes excruciating embrace."-Kirkus Reviews

"The Angry Woman Suite is an unsettling and engrossing read, filled with dark twists and heartbreaking moments."-IndieReader

"There is something fascinating in labyrinthine plot twists, which is what we have here, and I must applaud Fullbright for her keen and magical ability to pull it off with such aplomb."- Norm Goldman, Montreal Books Examiner and Bookpleasures.com

"A very human story, 'The Angry Woman Suite' is a fine read focusing on the long lasting dysfunction of family."-Midwest Book Review

5 Stars ***** Reviewed by Joana James for Readers Favorite:
"The Angry Woman Suite is quite a ride . . . very cleverly written . . . an outstanding novel. I recommend it with no reservations."

REVIEW

I'm not going to pretend The Angry Woman Suite did not leave me feeling a little bit overwhelmed.

I dived into it, drinking in the bleakness of an uncontrollable illness, brief splashes of watercolors and jazz, World Wars and aftermaths, abuse and affection running a continuous loop through three generations of a Pennsylvania family. The themes of "resentment and freedom", "fame and intemperance" and "isolation and reparation" which defined the three narrators respectively and fit into their perspectives practically bit into my skin. 

If I had to identify the central point of The Angry Woman Suite, it would be the painting by Matthew Watterson, which was originally a part of his suite of paintings titled The Angry Woman Suite depicting "distant and beautiful" Magdalene Grayson as wondrously ethereal, with the image of a river overhead and a distant boy-man figure in vicinity. The mystery behind the context of this painting, the actions it inspired and the significance of the boy-man figure was something I couldn't stop thinking about till the end of the book. It enraptured me as much as the Mona-Lisa Smile does... and the fate of the painting left me thinking much after I was done reading the book. It has inspired me to have a chunk of my review summarised in portraits though my suite is more Microsoft-Word-inspired than a product of artistic brush strokes:

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE 
© On Books!

And yet, even when the pieces of the puzzle are meticulously laid out in front of you, The Angry Woman Suite manages to leave you feeling like there's still so much the characters have to tell you. Like you've perceived only one aspect of the Gestalt Vase-Face figure and perhaps there's more the narrators hadn't stumbled upon... I mean this in the best possible way. It's this precise quality, the imperviousness of many of the characters that made this a story I couldn't look away from.

Lee Fullbright's writing is definitely what made this story seamless despite the breadth of the misery, damage, history, longing, lust, apathy, "matter-of-fact" twists and downright chills the book is packed with. Even more laudable is the tightly-woven intricacy with which the conflicts of the narrators are handled; leading to a coming of age, the letting go and making peace spanning over all of the three generations! It takes an exemplary writer to be able to incorporate so much, and still leave us wanting more. I would've nearly thought it impossible before I read The Angry Woman Suite, so kudos to the writer for that!

One thing I must mention, though, is that The Angry Woman Suite is definitely not something you read when you're in the mood for something fast or flippant. It's going to demand every bit of your attention, suck you into the darkest corners of the human psyche and entrance you with its realness. It rewards the patient reader with its thoroughness and insights; with its re-readability and incredible writing... which definitely makes me want to recommend you make time for it!

Rating: ★★★★☆
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About the Book - About the Author - Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of The Angry Woman Suite! Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog.
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Angry Woman Suite tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: 

“They need to be exercised, hearts do … to keep them strong.”

Every family has skeletons, but the Grayson family has more than its share of secrets–and of portraits. Mystery portraits that incite and obscure. Portraits to die for. An unsolved celebrity double murder in Pennsylvania. A girl looking for autonomy. A young man in search of an identity. An older man’s quest for justice. A plot that pulls and twists. Get The Angry Woman Suite through Amazon.


About the author: 

Lee Fullbright, a lifelong San Diegan, lives on beautiful Point Loma with her Australian cattle dog, Baby Rae (owner of her heart). Her literary mystery, The Angry Woman Suite, was a Kirkus Critics’ Pick, and won a Discovery Award (for literary fiction), as well as a Royal Dragonfly HM, and the award for “Best Mystery” at the 2013 San Diego Book Awards. Lee Fullbright is also the recipient of the 2013 Geisel Award, for “best of the best” at the SDBA. Connect with Lee on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or GoodReads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

13 comments:

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    1. Thank *you*, Lee. I enjoyed reading The Angry Woman Suite :)

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  2. I LOVE the picture review! It's so different! And lol the Gest Vace-Face figure :D

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    1. Thanks, Fahima! I hope you read the book, it's fascinatingly written and plotted!

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  3. I completely agree with your feeling of "wanting more".

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    1. :) Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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  4. I love your "review in portraits"; so creative and perfect for this book. :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by :) Watterson's suite definitely intrigued me the most; especially the way it tied together so many aspects of the story.

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  5. Your review is wonderful. It tells all that I felt in a way I could not. The first thing that grabbed me was the prose. Fullbright did a magnificent job of stringing everyday words together to create unique and wonderful scenes.

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    1. I totally agree about the prose. Fullbright did such a beautiful job bringing all of those everyday elements together to, as you said, create scenes that stood out so distinctly! Thanks for stopping by my blog :)

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Angry Woman Suite! Sorry it took me so long to come and visit your blog, but I'd definitely like to thank you for joining us on this tour! When you have a spare moment, please don't forget to cross-post to Amazon and GoodReads.

    You rock!
    Em :-)

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    1. Thanks Emlyn! So glad I got to read The Angry Woman Suite :-) Cross-posted :-)

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  7. Thank you. I love reading your review. Its great. I am feeling very glad to read it. Keep posting. It would really help me.

    http://www.nooritravel.co.uk

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HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)