What does it say about a book when it continually reminds you of other books or of an author who reminds you of other authors? Let me see if I can clarify this a little. It’s not that The Angry Woman Suite is like another book. For example, Lee Fullbright’s book reminds me of Charles Dickens. It’s not that she writes like him but the complexity of her plots and the multiple narrators remind me of things of his I have read and enjoyed. At other times she reminded me of other books and writers. She even reminded me of a movie: Laura. In the movie the main obsession of the characters is a painting and its subject. This novel broadens that theme to include the artist who did the painting, in this case several paintings: a suite-
–The Angry Woman Suite. I have to say, since this book recalls to my mind other books and things I have enjoyed then it is doing something very few books are able to do.
The author uses three narrators, almost like reading three diaries of similar times. But they aren’t exactly recalling the same events from different perspectives but are instead travelling parallel lines that meander enough to touch and flow together from time to time.
Each narrator is responsible for swatches of history. Elyse is the youngest. A child really, at least at first. Her voice is very believable. She thinks and speaks like the child she is, which, in itself, is quite an accomplishment. The men in her life seem to be a burden to her. Even her beloved grandfather, who may be well-meaning but instructs her in the ways of the world in cryptic statements that confuse more than enlighten. I have to remember however that the grandfather’s character along with one of the narrators, Aidan, were born in the nineteenth century, when magic and mystery has a greater influence on thinking.
Francis, the third narrator, becomes Elyse’s step-father. Have you ever hears the expression, he’s his own worst enemy? This is an apt one sentence description of Francis. He is the most compelling character in the book. If I were asked which fictional character I’d least like to be it would be Francis Grayson. He is riddled with self-doubt and driven by compulsions that bring him to shame at nearly every turn. Each time he finds happiness or success he self-destructs. It’s not as though he doesn’t succeed or find happiness, or, that it lurks outside his grasp. He is enormously talented. He just can’t hold onto his hard-won victories. This makes his life more tragic for its twists and turns. His talent, combined with his self-doubt and compulsive actions make his life a living hell.
If you enjoy a good story well told The Angry Woman Suite is a book for you.
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