Gateway Gazette

From My Bookshelf: Featuring E.C. Diskin and Julianna Baggott

 

By Lynn Willoughby

Broken Grace ~ E.C. Diskin

There are a rash of books like this one – Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Start of Everything, Still Alice, to name a few. All are psychological thrillers. Some are better than this one, some are worse.

Grace is a survivor of a car crash and when she wakes up in the hospital, she has no memory, recognizes no one and doesn’t know where she is. She has had a traumatic brain injury and may or may not get her memory back, in days, or weeks or never. What is most terrifying to Grace is that her boyfriend has been murdered and she is the number one suspect. But she can’t even remember Michael and doesn’t know whether or not she would be capable of murder.

When she is able, Grace’s sister Lisa, takes Grace to recuperate at the family home. However, as Grace steps into the house, her gut tells her to RUN! Are there things so terrifying here that she doesn’t want to remember them? But usually none of us listens to our gut reaction, and neither does Grace.

The author does a good job of keeping us in suspense and planting enough doubts and red herrings, a lot of sinister characters, scenarios and back stories to keep one turning the pages. There is a lot of tension and it kept me reading.

There is lots of dysfunction to go around in this family with members both dead and alive. Things and lives are certainly not what Lisa is trying to convince Grace, and possibly herself, to be what they seem.

You may or may not see the end coming. There are twists, secrets, infidelities and unknown villains – something for everyone!

  • The Green Line

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders ~ Julianna Baggott

Talk about your dysfunctional family – this novel has four generations of them!! The four women of three generations, make up Harriet’s family and alternately tell their stories. It took the author eighteen years to write this book and that’s believable, given the scope of the content and the research involved. It reminded me somewhat of John Irving’s “Cider House Rules”.

Harriet was born at home and her father deemed her “unfit” and was bundled off by the doctor to Maryland’s Home For Feeble Minded Children. You can only begin to imagine the horrors there, but Harriet survives, makes a best friend, Epitt Clapp, learns to read and is eventually recognized as a “genius.” Of course the School makes much of this, and her father is shamed into picking her up and taking her home to a mother who thought she had died at birth. Harriet and her mother have four years together before her mother dies.

As is predictable, Harriet thrives, writes a series of books that become huge best sellers, with a seventh book rumored to be in manuscript form, and gives birth to a daughter, Elanor. “What’s hidden in Harriet’s saga is as important as what’s visible….promises, secrets, pacts and more than one case of agoraphobia.” Kirkus Review

Without spoilers I will only say that we are dealing with a lot of topics – autism, eugenics, agoraphobia, asthma, allergies, institutionalization and early twentieth century “cures” for madness. Mostly it is about mother-daughter relationships, love through the ages, dark secrets and how we learn acceptance. Harriet’s granddaughter Tilton – who is autistic, is no doubt the best of anyone for seeing things for what they are and literally accepting them.

This is a challenging read, and is well written, well researched, and makes my family look like saints!

  • Pure
  • My Husband’s Sweethearts

………..and others

Who Knew?

In 1918 vasectomies were called “Steinarching” and were performed to provide a hormone boost for the man, “proven” to increase intellect and sexual performance. Sigmund Freud and William Butler Yeats were amongst those “Steinarched.”

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