Review: Love at First Flight by Tess Woods

LoveAtFirstFlighteCover

 

Title: Love at First Flight

Author: Tess Woods

Published: HarperCollins Au April 2015

Status: Read from April 15 to 16, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Told from the first person perspectives of Mel and Matt, Love at First Flight is an unconventional love story which explores the motives for an illicit affair, and the damage left in its wake.

When Mel meets Matt during an interstate flight they recognise each other as soul mates. The problem is Mel is a married mother of two who lives in Perth, and Matt, who lives in Melbourne, is engaged to be married. Despite saying goodbye at the airport, they are both unable to forget their brief time together, and embark on a passionate affair that threatens to destroy them both.

Relationships are complicated things and Woods intelligently and compassionately explores the evolution of Matt and Mel’s affair from their first meeting, through their consuming affair, and to the messy, bitter end. It’s an emotional journey that draws the reader in with complex characterisation and a compelling narrative.

I was surprised to find I could relate to Mel in some ways, I found it difficult to blame her for reveling in the attention Matt gave her during the flight, but she definitely crossed the line for me when she chose to meet with him later. Her spiral into obsession was unsettling but I believed in it, as I did in her growing self awareness.

I particularly admired the way Mel eventually took responsibility for her failings with her husband. Mel’s shame and guilt, and Adam’s hurt and anger, in the aftermath is visceral. I’ve witnessed a similar situation among friends and feel that Woods portrayal of their struggle towards forgiveness and redemption is very well drawn.

Woods convinced me of the overwhelming chemistry between Mel and Matt, no mean feat considering I’m not sure I really believe in the idea of love at first sight. I wasn’t a fan of Matt, despite his sympathetic background he struck me as a weak man, but I thought he was a well rounded character.

Love at First Flight is a surprisingly thought provoking story about love, marriage, intimacy and honesty. An impressive debut from a new Australian author.

 

Learn more about Love at First Flight, Tess Woods and her road to publication in her guest post published earlier today

Love at First Flight is available to purchase from

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AWW Feature: Tess Woods, Love at First Flight and the road to publication

Tess Woods Author photo

I’m delighted to introduce Tess Woods to you today to celebrate the publication of her debut novel, Love at First Flight.

Tess Woods is a health professional who lives in Perth, Australia with one husband, two children, one dog and one cat who rules over all of them. When she isn’t working or being a personal assistant to her kids, Tess enjoys reading and all kinds of grannyish pleasures like knitting, baking, drinking tea, watching Downton Abbey and tending to the veggie patch.

Love at First Flight is her first novel, published by HarperCollins Australia

LoveAtFirstFlighteCover‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.
What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?
Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.
What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.”

My review of Love at First Flight can be seen HERE, in the meantime please read on to learn more about Tess Woods and her road to publication…

My road to publication was long with speed humps and detours!

I wrote the first draft in three days. I had a flash of inspiration, grabbed pen and paper, locked myself away and pumped out a novel. As I wrote, I imagined publishers tripping over themselves to get their hands on it. I pictured bidding wars and movie rights. Then I read over it. It was drivel.

It took me a month of writing every evening to get to draft two. It was still drivel. I called in back-up. I sent the manuscript to an assessment agency. The editor reported back after six weeks saying it was drivel. I already knew that! What I wanted was some help to point me in the right direction.

So I tried a different manuscript assessor. This time I struck gold. Meredith Whitford from Between Us was clever, insightful and she cut to the chase.
“It’s got X-factor,” she said. “But it needs lots of polish. You’ll get it published. It’s one of the best manuscripts I’ve seen.”
Along with her comments, Meredith had a forty point list of things to work on. I spent six months writing draft three and re-submitted it. “Getting there but not quite,” was her response so I spent the next six months working on draft four. Then I had Meredith’s tick of approval.

But what if she liked it and nobody else did? I decided to get a third opinion and sent the manuscript to Nikki Davies. She came up with four pages of suggestions. Three months later I had draft five and three months after that I had draft six. I felt ready to take on the literary world. Again I imagined bidding wars and movie deals.

Over the next two years I was rejected by all twenty-two literary agents in Australia who represented commercial fiction writers. Every last one of them. Some of them wrote ‘return to sender’ on the envelope without opening it, some read it and hated it, several of them read it and said they loved it but it would be impossible to find a publisher because I had no resume to speak of.

After opening the front door to find my manuscript sitting on the porch from the last remaining agent, I slid it under the spare bed, dusted myself off and forgot I had written a book. The submission process to agents had been exhausting and soul destroying. I couldn’t face beginning again with publishers. I figured I had no chance with publishers anyway if none of the agents wanted it. I was done.

“I’ll self publish it one day,” I thought. “One day but not now. I need to forget about it now and get on with my life.”

Then along came an email. It was from literary agent Jacinta Di Mase. Jacinta had considered Love at First Flight nearly two years earlier before deciding she didn’t want it. In her rejection letter, she’d said how hard it was to reject it because it was one of the best unsolicited works she’d seen. I was particularly devastated when Jacinta had initially turned it down, because I was convinced she would take it. It was just a strong gut feeling I had that she would be my agent. Always trust your gut!

Jacinta’s email now went something like this, “Hey, I still have that book of yours in my mind even though it’s been a couple of years since I read it. So, did you sell it yet? And if not, are you prepared to make the changes I want done? If you are, I’ll go in and bat for you with publishers.”

Excuse me, what? YES I would be prepared to make changes! I was prepared to sell her my next child if it meant she would go in to bat for me!

So I wrote draft seven. A year later, I resubmitted it to Jacinta. I hit send on the email and the next day headed off to Europe for the trip of a life-time with hubby and kids in tow and tried to put it out of my mind. If Jacinta wanted it, great, if not, I would self-publish it one day and sign the inside cover for my mum.

Four weeks later, we were in Cornwall on our “book tour of the UK”. We were visiting places based on books we loved. Cornwall was my choice because of my love of The Shellseekers by Rosamunde Pilcher which was set there. We had arrived the night before from London (where we did all things Harry Potter). I checked emails from home and wow! Jacinta loved the new version and she had already started the rounds of publishers. That this happened the day I was living out a long held dream to go shell-seeking just like a favourite character from a book was pure magic.

Fast forward eight months of nail-biting, finger crossing, acquisitions meetings after acquisitions meetings where it was rejected at the last minute, editors loving it and emailing us about just how much they loved it but then failing to convince the rest of their teams to love it. It was torture. And then along came an editor who was passionate enough to stand by the story until it had full approval from everyone in her publishing team. And that was Anna Valdinger at HarperCollins. Oh how I love her! Once I signed with HarperCollins, there were two more huge edits to do. But nine re-writes and almost six years from the day I first put pen to paper, I got there.

I had never written any fiction before this book. In fact I’d never planned on writing a book at all. But when this story came to me, I had to write it and keep writing it until others believed in it too. I’m so lucky that they did.

Love at First Light is available to purchase from

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Review: Missing You by Kylie Kaden

 

Title: Missing You

Author: Kylie Kaden

Published: Random House Au April 2015

Status: Read from April 05 to 07, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

“At what point did this become my fate? Did I ever control it? And if I’d chosen differently, would all the good parts dissolve along with the bad? Even if this is the end, I have no regrets. For giving into that magnetic pull we had, despite wanting different things….I didn’t think it was possible to love another human more…”

Aisha and Ryan fell in love the moment they met, and were certain would make it work, despite the differences between them. Five years later, struggling with the reality of their compromises and the relentless demands of parenting their autistic spectrum son, they fight and Ryan walks away.
A day later, Aisha receives a late night phone call, and promising to return in an hour or so, leaves her son, Eli, in her father’s care. Three days later Aisha has still not come home, Ryan can’t be reached, and while the police seem inclined to dismiss Patrick’s fears, he is certain something is wrong.

From the first page the reader is aware that wherever Aisha is, she is in trouble. The tension builds as the reader wonders why she is missing, has Aisha simply had enough, snapping under the strain, or is there a more sinister reason for her absence?

“I calmly wonder is this is how it feels to die: This strange lightness, drifting in zero gravity. I feel no pain, but I have no control. I command my brain to charge my limbs, to pry open my eyes, but it’s no use.”

Missing You unfolds through the perspectives of Aisha, Ryan and Patrick, shifting from the present, through the past, until the two timelines merge.

Over a period of seven days, Patrick worries about his missing daughter while caring for his grandson. Eli’s behaviour is a challenge for Patrick and Kaden explores the difficulties of catering to his needs.

“Seventy years I’ve made it, and never seen a boy like him.”

Aisha and Ryan’s narratives reveal their life together – their passionate romance, their feelings about marriage and parenthood, – and why the cracks had begun to appear, leading to the fight that separates them the day before Aisha goes missing. Kaden does a wonderful job of creating two interesting, well rounded characters and mapping a fairytale relationship complicated by reality.

“My life isn’t perfect, Gabe. We’re broke, tired, antisocial. The highlight of my week is more than four hours’ consecutive sleep. But we love each other. I love my son.”

Missing You held me in its thrall from the first page, and while I confess to being a little disappointed in one element of the ending, I found it to be a layered, absorbing tale of love and suspense.

 

 Learn more about Kyle Kaden and Missing You by clicking HERE

Missing You is available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Kylie Kaden

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AWW Feature: Kylie Kaden and Book Nerds Anonymous

Kaden, Kylie

 

I’m excited to welcome Kylie Kaden to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her second novel, Missing You.

Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, she shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids. Raised in Queensland, she lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Her debut novel, Losing Kate, was published in 2014 (Random House).

Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel.

‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .’
When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn’t want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them. But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility. Until Ryan can’t take it anymore.
Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick – and doesn’t come back. As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear. Particularly when blood is found in Aisha’s abandoned car . . .

My review of Missing You will be published later today, in the meantime please enjoy this guest post from Kyle Kaden.

Book Nerds Anonymous

Since I gouged teeth marks through The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without a book. They’ve been a constant. Just like my husband can recite who won the footy final each year for the last dozen or so and where he was for each, I can tell you that I bought Lovely Bones on Kamari Beach on Santorini (as it was one of the few books I could find in English). That I read Wuthering Heights in a converted barn in Tuscany (out loud). Like fire leaves its mark between growth rings of a tree, you can read my life by the books I’ve read, infer what stage of a relationship I was in, the life-phase, the mood – by the titles I chose. Like people we meet, some books are quickly forgotten, while others stay with us always. I’m a self-confessed book nerd, and here’s why.

I love movies, live music, theatre. But books – they are so approachable. Perennially available, they are ready when you are with no ad-breaks, no intermission. You can turn them down in bed one night, and they’ll wait patiently beside you ‘til you’re in the mood. The story unfolds at the pace you set, the characters look exactly like they should (with perfect accents). You can devour them on a train, on a beach, in a line. And there is a book for every taste. They offer a whole lot more than entertainment.

Books are like an update for your brain. They can enrich your soul, allow you to walk in the shoes of another human – all from the safety of your doona (and for the cost of a library card). Books are a friend for the lonely kid who’d rather fight dragons in dungeons during lunchbreaks than kick goals. They are a companion through post-divorce celibacy, a time-waster after a hysterectomy, a date on a Saturday night. For those that are believers, you shall never be bored. They can guide you through a diagnosis, a game of 500, a quilt project. Books are a tardis: there is always a book about to be released to transport you to another time and place. All you have to do is let it.

So I am humbled when the powers that be decided I was worthy to add the product of some of my mixed-up musings to the great big party of imaginary friends that literature has to offer the world. And everyone’s invited.

My latest romantic thriller Missing You, is about relationships tested by adversity and introduces Aisha: an offbeat-beauty struggling to be the mum she never had, Ryan – an opportunistic charmer coming to terms with being the dad he never knew he wanted to be, and Pat – a grumble-bum Grandpa lumbered with the care of a difficult four year old – Eli, who sees the world differently to the rest of us. When Aisha leaves her beloved son in the care of her elderly father and doesn’t come back, the family’s concern quickly turns to fear when a bloodstain is found in Aisha’s abandoned car…

Missing You is available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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Review: After Birth by Elisa Albert

 

Title: After Birth

Author: Elisa Albert

Published: Vintage Digital UK April 2015

Status: Read from April 02 to 03, 2015  – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

After Birth is a provocative story of new motherhood.

The narrative is almost a stream of consciousness with Ari’s unfiltered thoughts raging across each page. Ari is brutally honest about her experience, but abrasively so. She is angry, bitter and self pitying, however it’s fair to say that she is also lost, lonely and deeply conflicted.

” Sometimes I’m with the baby and I think: you’re my heart and my soul, and I would die for you. Other times I think: tiny moron, leave me the f**k alone…”

It seems likely Ari is experiencing some level of post natal depression, exacerbated by a birth she viewed as traumatic and her difficult relationship with her deceased mother. Motherhood is undoubtedly a huge period of change and adjustment.

“There’s before and there’s after. To live in your body before is one thing. To live in your body after is another. Some deal by attempting to micromanage; some go crazy; some zone right the hell on out. Or all of the above. A blessed few resist any of these…”

There were parts of the novel I connected with, I have four children (three of whom were born in three years) so I can relate somewhat to Ari’s experience. New motherhood can be a frustrating, exhausting, frightening and isolating period.

“Endless need. I did not understand how there could be no break. No rest. There was just no end to it. It went on and one and on. There was no end. And I couldn’t relinquish him….because he was mine. There was an agony that bordered on physical when he wasn’t in my arms.”

However I had a hard time dredging up a lot of sustained sympathy for Ari who wallows in negativity. She is so angry, and self-righteous and entitled. I found her rants about c-sections and bottle-feeding particularly off putting.

“The baby’s first birthday. Surgery day, I point out, because I have trouble calling it birth. Anniversary of the great failure.”

For all of the rage in After Birth, Albert raises some important issues about the experience of modern motherhood. It can be such an isolating experience for many women, especially for those who lack the close support of family and friends and it is often difficult for new mother’s to admit, and ask, for help.

“Two hundred years ago-hell, one hundred years ago- you’d have a child surrounded by other women: your mother, her mother, sisters, cousins, sisters -in-law, mother-in-law…. They’d help you, keep you company, show you how. Then you’d do the same. Not just people to share in the work of raising children, but people to share in the loving of children.”

Albert also speaks about friendship, and the way women relate to each other in both positive and negative ways. Ari has few female friends, and her closest friends essentially abandon her after her son is born. She latches onto to Mina, the pregnant tenant of friends, who offers her much of the validation she craves.

We set up camp at my house or hers. We listen to music. I like the music she likes….”We say ‘yes’, ‘exactly’, ‘poor thing’ and ‘I know’, ‘I know that’s the whole problem’ and ‘really, well of course!'”

I think the rage in this novel has the potential to both ameliorate and alienate women, I rolled my eyes in derision of what it had to say as often as I nodded my head in agreement. I didn’t enjoy After Birth, nor even really like it, but it is a thought provoking and powerful read.

 

Available to Purchase From

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Review: Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith

 

Title: Whiskey and Charlie

Author: Annabel Smith

Published: Sourcebooks Landmark April 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on April 02, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley)

My Thoughts:

First published in Australia as ‘Whisky, Charlie, Foxtrot’ in 2012, Whiskey and Charlie is a moving and poignant novel, the story of identical twin brothers, Charlie and William (aka Whiskey) Ferns. Inseparable as children, rivals as teenagers and estranged as adults, their relationship is unresolved when William is badly injured in a freak accident. As Whiskey lies comatose, Charlie struggles to deal with all the things that remain unsaid between them.

“He must not die.He must not die because he, Charlie, needs more time….He had always thought there would be time”

The narrative shifts between present events and Charlie’s memories of the past, gradually unraveling the reasons for the discord between the brothers. Each chapter is headed with a call sign from the International Phonetic Alphabet, with the designation woven cleverly into the story.

WHISKEY5Charlie is both a sympathetic and frustrating character. Having always felt inferior to his much more outgoing and confident twin, Charlie has allowed his envy and resentment to sour many aspects of his life. It isn’t until Whiskey’s accident that Charlie examines his own conscience and is forced to confront the ways in which he has failed not only his brother, but himself.

“Charlie had spent all those months trying to find evidence that Whiskey was to blame for their estrangement, looking for justifications for his refusal to forgive Whiskey, excavating the last twentyfive years of their lives in order to come to some sort of definitive conclusion – which of the them was guilty, which of them was not. At last he saw the truth was somewhere between those things, that it wasn’t all Whiskey’s fault or all his own, that at times they had both done the right thing by each other, and at other times the wrong thing, that they’d both made mistakes and both come come good in their own ways…”

Smith’s observations of the complicated relationships in her novel are astute and honest. her characters are believable, complex and vividly drawn. Emotion runs high as the characters sit vigil by Whiskey’s bedside, with the author capturing the dizzying eddy of hope, grief, guilt and fear.

A heartfelt, compelling story about love, redemption and family, the last pages brought a tear to my eye.

Available to Purchase From

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Via Booko

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Review: The Road To Hope by Rachael Johns

 

Title: The Road to Hope

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: Harlequin MIRA AU March 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on March 31, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In The Road to Hope, Rachael Johns revisits the small Western Australian town of Hope Springs featured in her debut novel, Jilted.

The Road to Hope opens at Flynn and Ellie’s marriage ceremony with Lauren Simpson watching jealously from the pews. Still bitter about losing the love of her life, and tired of being fodder for the town gossips, Lauren decides it’s time to start afresh, but the temptation of the locum doctor, Dr Tom Lewis, may be just too good for a bad girl to resist.

Lauren was cast as somewhat of a villain in Jilted, painted as petty and promiscuous, but Johns does an admirable job of redeeming her in The Road To Hope. We learn that Lauren’s behaviour in large part stemmed from her unrequited crush on Flynn, and her promiscuity has been driven by a real desire for true love. As a nurse, Lauren proves she is also kind, capable and dedicated and it’s these qualities that Johns draws out so that we find Lauren both a sympathetic and likeable heroine.

Tom Lewis is easy to like – a hot, surfing doctor traveling Australia in a vintage ute as a locum – but he has a devastating secret that complicates his life. He’s attracted to Lauren, but he feels he can’t consider anything more serious than a fling given his situation. Johns handles Lewis’s dilemma well without minimising the reality of the situation.

I really enjoyed the chemistry and slow burn romance between Lauren and Tom. Despite their immediate sexual attraction, both have good reasons for refusing to acknowledge it. They develop a friendship which is really sweet, even with the undercurrent of heat and I was delighted by the way their relationship worked itself out.

It’s not necessary to have read Jilted to read The Road to Hope but I enjoyed revisiting the town and people of Hope Springs. I read this in a matter of hours, enjoying the warmth, humour and romance of a this well written story.

Available to purchase from

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and all good bookstores.

 

Also by Rachael Johns

@ Goodreads

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Review: Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler

Title: Pretty Ugly

Author: Kirker Butler

Published: Thomas Dunne March 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 27 to 29, 2015  – I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Review to come

Available to Purchase From

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Review: The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman by Mamen Sánchez

Title: The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman

Author: Mamen Sánchez

Published: Doubleday UK March 2015

Status: Read from March 25 to 26, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman is a quirky tale of love, friendship, family and literature.

Heir of the Craftsman & Co publishing company, Atticus Craftsman, is sent by his father to close down their failing Spanish literary magazine. The staff of the ‘Librarte’, five close-knit women, are devastated and devise a plan to distract the Englishman from his mission, luring Atticus to Andalucía with the promise of an extraordinary literary find.

As Solea leads Atticus on a wild goose chase to her family home, Berta, Gabriela, Asuncion and Maria carry on, hoping to redeem the magazine. But when Marlow Craftsman realises his son is missing, and involves local police Inspector Manchego, the women are risking more than just their jobs.

Truthfully, farce is not really my thing so I didn’t really enjoy The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman the way some readers might. I found some parts amusing and I was charmed by several of the characters including Berta, the manager of Librarte, and the bumbling Inspector Manchego, but unfortunately overall I just wasn’t very interested.

Translated from her native Spanish, The Altogether Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman is Mamen Sanchez’s fifth novel.

 

Available to Purchase From

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 via Booko

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Review: The Wisdom of Perversity by Rafael Yglesias

 

Title: The Wisdom of Perversity

Author: Rafael Yglesias

Published: Algonquin Books March 2015

Status: Read from March 23 to 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In The Wisdom of Perversity, Rafael Yglesias tells the story of three childhood friends, reluctantly reunited as adults when the man who sexually abused them more than three decades earlier is finally exposed as a predator, yet seems likely to get away with it.

What Yglesias does well in The Wisdom of Perversity is illustrate the lingering feelings of shame and helplessness victims of abuse carry into adulthood. Despite their best efforts to move past the emotional trauma associated with Stein the memory never fades, ambushing them in their weakest moments. Yglesias also challenges the idea that one type of abuse is better or worse than another. Though Brian was ‘only diddled’ and Jeff was anally raped, their suffering all these years later is indistinguishable, it’s clear it is not so much about the physical act but the emotional repercussions.

Steins predatory nature is truly horrifying. He seduces the parents of his victims with bonhomie and largesse, so that the children feel unable to seek their help. The scene in which he abuses Julie while in the midst a roomful of adults, was incredibly distressing to read, and the powerlessness of the children is heartbreaking.

Unfortunately I didn’t relate to any of the characters as adults, though I was sympathetic to them. Brian is a successful screenwriter with intimacy issues, Julie is a unhappily married library archivist with a teenage son, and Jeff, on his third marriage, is a famous film director. Exposing Stein has the potential to devastate their personal and professional lives.

Said to be inspired by the molestation Yglesias suffered at age 8, The Wisdom of Perversity is a challenging read, especially in terms of the subject matter, but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.

Available to Purchase From

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Via Booko

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