Margaret Ann Spence Coming Home
shadow

Take the Long Way Home in Popular Fiction

BONNIE McCUNE’S TAKE ON COMING HOME

I had the pleasure of meeting Bonnie McCune at the Author U Conference in 2016, where my novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, then yet to be published, was a finalist in the “Draft to Dream” competition. Bonnie and I share a background in freelance journalism, and like me, she has won awards for her writing. Her third novel, Never Retreat, was published this week by Imajin Books, and I asked her if she’d be a guest blogger on my website. I’m committed to promoting the work of other women writers, so I’m pleased to offer Bonnie’s essay on women’s fiction in our very complicated world.

TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME IN POPULAR FICTION
By Bonnie McCune

Seems like life gets more complicated as the years pass. What toothpaste do I choose in the
supermarket out of the dozens of brands demanding my attention? How do I choose screen – time programs with thousands of stations, streaming videos, and DVDs at my fingertips? When election time rolls around, which candidates and political parties are worthy of support?

Just as convoluted are our concepts about traditions. Terms as basic as “home” and “family” aren’t simple. Nowadays, a family may have one parent, same-sex parents, one or more children with no genetic ties to the adults, assorted friends and hangers-on who give and receive emotional stability from one another, and an assortment of different ages. Ditto “home.” It might be an apartment, a separate house, a tent, a motel, even a box under a bridge.

Fortunately, we’re more flexible these days. We don’t need to be limited by words when we think about ‘family’ and ‘home.’ These terms are more easily defined by emotions than phrases, and I’m fascinated by the changes reflected in popular fiction. Whereas in romances, the happy ending used to always mean the hero and heroine got married, this is not as true today. The romance field has a term “happy for now” (HFN), meaning the reader can’t predict with  certainty that the main couple will wind up together. Probably they will, but maybe not.

Those of us living in the real world know every life has its share of knocks. Fiction, particularly the type described as “women’s fiction” now incorporates reality. In my new novel, Never Retreat, I wanted all my characters to have feet of clay. L believe there’s room in fiction to include writing unafraid to debate contemporary concerns. Heroine Raye, in addition to being half Latina and facing some kneejerk racism, is a single mom. Hero Des is an ex-military man who doesn’t necessarily agree with all the decisions leaders make. This type of fiction pulls no punches, while providing a fresh look at age-old issues.

The homecomings they experience range from survival in the wilderness to learning how to open up and depend upon each other. When we read fiction, we’re able to encounter many types of people and a multitude of homecomings. The plots of women’s fiction often take the long way home. They wind, tantalize, puzzle, enchant. But one thing they have in common, a truth we’ve long known, as always, home is where the heart is.

NEVER RETREAT – FACT SHEET
A feisty single mom clashes with an ex-military, macho corporate star at a business retreat in the wild Colorado mountains, where only one can win a huge prize. But when a massive flood imperils their love and survival, they learn the meaning of true partnership.

PUBLICATION INFO: PUBLISHING MARCH 15, 2018, 978-1- 77223-350- 6 Kindle ebook, 978-1- 77223-351- 3 Trade paperback, 240 pages. Amazon or Imajin Books. Ebook and paperback.

CONTACT: Bonnie’s writing has won several awards. Visit her at www.BonnieMcCune.com, Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.

This Life Is In Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, And A Family Undone – A Memoir

By Melissa Coleman
Harper Collins Publishers 2011

Eliot Coleman is a now famous organic gardener, one of the leading experts in his field, considered a father of the organic food movement. When he was twenty-six years old he and his wife Sue took up land in northern Maine. This memoir by their daughter Melissa tells of the ideals and broken dreams that awaited Eliot and Sue in their quest for utopia.

Though sometimes called hippies, Eliot and Sue were not drop-outs. They were extremely hardworking, dedicated to a goal of total vegetarian self-sufficiency. They moved next door to the legendary back-to- the-land advocates Scott and Helen Nearing. Tellingly, the Nearings chose not to have children and saw them as a distraction.

Living in cabins and a house they built themselves, the Colemans survived without running water, indoor toilets, electricity or telephone. They cooked and warmed themselves on an old
cast iron stove. They took on no debt. Working sixteen hours a day, Eliot Coleman was able to turn the acidic soil of Cape Rosier into productive farmland. He did it by rediscovering natural methods of unlocking the nitrogen stored in the forest floor. He used horse manure and compost instead of chemical fertilizer. He plowed and weeded and hoed until the family was able to produce vegetables they then sold at a roadside stand. They survived on less than $2,000 a year.

And in the meantime, Sue gave birth to three daughters.

Today, when cell phones and the internet keep us in constant touch with the outside world, it is hard to believe that in the nineteen seventies Sue Coleman, pregnant or not, would rise before dawn to carry heavy buckets of water from the well, balancing them from a rod on her shoulders. She milked goats, fed the hens and collected eggs and sewed and mended clothes. Before she could bake the daily bread she had to grind the grains by hand. She cooked three meals a day, first for the family, later for all the workers, and she did it without electricity. She had to care for three children on her own because the others were all in the fields. She endured the sight of nubile, athletic young women striding naked through the farm while she felt cast aside, housebound, unable even to smooth her chapped lips with face-cream. In the midst of her sense of unraveling and chaos, a true family tragedy occurred. The fall-out from this loss flows organically, to overuse that word. No other outcome was possible, in Melissa Coleman’s telling.

Melissa Coleman skillfully blends her present self, her adult knowledge, with her childhood memories. Now that she understands the stresses on the family’s life she is unsparing in the honesty with which she chronicles the breakdown of her parents’ marriage and the farm. Yet she does not judge them. Her father’s urge to succeed was unmatched and one imagines that whatever profession he chose, charismatic, driven Eliot Coleman would leave others far behind. Still, the fact remains that his first wife was his true partner in his first and most difficult endeavor to live self-sustainably. As is true for so many women, her contribution and the toll it took is not recognized in the world.

This book is full of wonderful prose pictures, the soft light of summer, fireflies, snow on the fields, the milking of the goats. The world of farming as it used to be several generations back is presented without sugar-coating. It’s a world that another generation of young people is trying to claw back in a valiant attempt to undo climate change and the ravages of industrialization.

It’s no accident that many visionaries follow their dreams single-mindedly, without the distraction of family. Coleman shows us how sticking to the dream without compromise can destroy the hopes of those closest to the dreamer. The title of this book has a triple meaning and is so very apt. It tells us that we, too, can choose to live an intentional life. It refers to the line in the palm of the hand that presumably augers a person’s years of life. And it also alludes to what we must do for the fragile children we bring into the world, that awesome responsibility. One of the unspoken truths in this book is that the modern world, for all its faults, allows children to grow to adulthood because their mothers have time to care for them, freed from unremitting, backbreaking labor.

An Unnecessary Woman

By Rabih Alameddine
Grove Press, New York, 2013

This is simply one of the most extraordinary novels I have ever read. It breaks all the rules we students of writing have been taught. For example, never write a scene with a person alone in a room. A single childless, 72-year old woman in a room, to make the story even more unpalatable to modern tastes. In this book, much of the “action” occurs in the narrator’s head as she recalls her past and tries to justify her refusal to bring her aged mother into her home. That she has a home of her own at all is an achievement in Beirut, where Aaliya, the narrator, has lived all her life. In her society she is an “unnecessary woman” who has not procreated, who does not even have a job (she’s retired from working in a bookshop). She’s a woman with few friends and a terrible relationship with her birth family.

Not a promising set up, you might say.

The book is absolutely riveting.

Its imagery is amazing. Aaliya keeps an AK47 on her nightstand because Beirut has been at war through much of her adulthood. Beirut, she tells us “is the Elizabeth Taylor of cities: insane, beautiful, tacky, falling apart, aging, and forever drama laden.”

In her own way, isolated as she is, Aaliya shares these qualities.

In writing in the voice of the opposite gender, Alameddine set himself a considerable challenge, the more so because he tackles the subject of loneliness in older women. But in creating Aaliya, Alameddine succeeds brilliantly. Aaliya is intelligent, funny, perceptive, unsentimental, and self-deprecating. In inhabiting his fictional Aaliya, Alameddine shows us the ultimate gift of literature – insight into someone else’s mind.

The author plays on this is another way, too. Aaliya’s passion is the written word, and self-educated, she’s incredibly widely read, in English and French as well as her native Arabic. She’s set herself the task of translating the Western canon into Arabic. Sometimes, as in the case of Dostoyevsky, she takes two translations from the Russian, one in French and one in English, to produce a third translation in Arabic. This task symbolizes Aaliyah’s apartness from typical human relationships as she takes on the Other – that other way of thinking that learning a different language gives us. Translation can never be a perfect rendition of another’s thoughts, but a skilled translator can produce a work of art in its own right.

Aaliyah has never tried to publish these translations, and they sit in boxes in the maid’s bathroom in her musty apartment. “Why bother” she says. Aaliya leads us to believe that she thinks, therefore, that even her work is unnecessary. But it is not. It is the essential expression of ego. Not in the sense that she is egotistical. She is the opposite. But her creation is essential because it justifies her existence as a human being. She describes “the flow” this way: “During these moments I am no longer my usual self, yet I am wholeheartedly myself, body and spirit. During these moments I am healed of all wounds. I’ll be sitting at my desk and suddenly I don’t wish my life to be any different. I am where I need to be. My heart distends with delight. I feel sacred.”

In this paean to literature, Alameddine also alerts us to the danger of self-absorption. Aaliya has a family whom she could choose to embrace, and a group of three women who live in her apartment building, who are kind to her and who would, if she let them, be her friends. Toward the end of the novel we see Aaliya making a late start on actual human engagement. To the extent that she believes her choices in life were utterly constrained by her culture, this story could be a sad one. But Aaliya’s inner life is proof of the uncrushable human spirit.

Throughout the book are scattered poems, phrases, and philosophic quotes, which Aaliya uses to make a point. In the hands of some authors the constant allusions to works of other writers would be intimidating. But Aaliya just made me itch to read the books I hadn’t read, and to reread the ones I had.

The Real Jane Austen: A Life In Small Things


By Paula Byrne

Harper Collins, 2013

Whenever I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I find myself turning to Jane Austen.

Often dismissed as a writer concerned only with domestic dramas, Austen’s work accurately depicts her times as well as universal human nature. That’s why she still fascinates after two hundred years. Over the Christmas holidays, I read The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Bryne. Taking an unusual approach, the biographer uses objects known to Jane Austen to create a rich picture of her life and the world she lived in.

That world was not quite as parochial as the fictional world she created.

After all, England was at war for Jane’s entire adult life. Two of her brothers were actively engaged in it as naval officers. Her family counted itself amongst the gentry, were related to minor nobility. Yet as Austen’s novels show, women, and to a lesser extent, men, were completely dependent upon a “good” i.e. financially comfortable, marriage for survival. The professional, who makes his or her way in the world through training, intelligence and experience, as opposed to birth, was a new type of person. Byrne points out that Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth, my favorite Austen hero, and possibly Jane’s as well, was just such a person. For women to earn their own living was a rare, even dangerous thing. To be a novelist was more respectable than to be an actress, but still, to live publicly was daring. Jane Austen published her novels anonymously.

Each chapter in this book is headed by an image of an object or a painting which scholarship has unearthed as being familiar to Jane Austen. Through these objects, “The Ivory Miniature” or “The Topaz Crosses” we learn about Austen’s attitude to slavery and to religion. In “The Marriage Banns,”, “The Royalty Cheque”, and “The Laptop”, we learn of her attitude to marriage and her work.

By describing her society so deftly, and with such humor, showing the bind women were in, Jane Austen can be seen as a proto-feminist. She chose not to marry, despite its financial costs, and tried to support herself through her writing. It is not exactly true to say her writing came before her family, but she wrote all the time, using a “laptop”, or portable writing desk, wherever she went. In this chapter Ms. Byrne describes Jane Austen’s attempts to get published, a struggle so familiar to authors.

Because most of her correspondence was burned after her death, she left no notebooks and because her books are so full of irony, “Jane Austen remains the most elusive of all our great writers with the exception of Shakespeare…” says Byrne. This book is an ingenious way to get inside Jane Austen’s world.

Little Gods

By Andrew Levkoff
Peacock Angel Publishing, 2017

Readers of this blog know how fascinated I am with the ancient world. In his trilogy, The Bow of Heaven, Andrew Levkoff introduces us to Alexandros, the Greek-born slave to Marcus Licinius Crassus, Rome’s richest man. Crassus, along with Pompey and Caesar, formed the first triumvirate. Naturally these three ambitious and competitive men were soon at odds. At the end of Levkoff’s trilogy Crassus undertakes a disastrous campaign against the Parthians and is killed. Levkoff ends the book by introducing us to a new character, Melyaket.

Little Gods is the story of the childhood and young adulthood of Melyaket and his rival, Scolotes. As children in the remote village of Sinjar in Parthia (modern day Iran) Scolotes and Melykalet play together. But Scolotes is always an outsider, regarded as being cursed because he was born with one gray and one brown eye. If the circumstances of Scolotes’ birth were unfortunate, Melykalet is blessed. He seems always to have the favor of the gods. How this plays out is the crux of this story. Because of Levkoff’s skilled writing, the reader feels empathy for both characters.

Today the Middle East is still mired in war. So the author does not miss the opportunity to bring the reader into the modern world too. In Little Gods, Andrew Levkoff harnesses his extraordinary story-telling powers to take the reader into the same place, two thousand years apart. In Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, helicopters circle the land inhabited by Kurds. Their aim seems to be to annihilate anything that moves. Two thousand years earlier, the same area was also a place of seemingly endless conflict.

The senselessness of war is an underlying theme of Levkoff’s work. Sadly, his book illuminates the fact that humans have not yet learned to live and let live, even two thousand years after the empires of Rome and Parthia fought for domination of this harsh desert.

This rather bleak view of human nature is mitigated by Levkoff’s compassion for human frailty. And by setting his story in a war-torn part of the world, he reminds us that our good fortune is just that -an accident of birth.

This is a fast-paced story you won’t put down.

My Favorite Books of the Year

When I launched this web page it was an exploration. As an unknown author myself, I began to notice how many really good books were published with very little attention. Many of them were by women. I also began to notice how many really famous women writers got their publishing start (which is different from starting to write) at a relatively advanced age. For all the wunderkind, there are many more writers for whom life experience forms the building blocks of a literary career.

So I began to review books by relatively unknown women. As a way to help this community,
and as a way to help my own writing. Writers are always avid readers.

Here are some of my favorite books from 2017, reviewed in these pages:

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. Reviewed in August, this book tells the story of the return of a Texan white child from her Kiowa captors from the point of view of the middle aged retired army officer who’s tasked with returning her to her family. Among the fascinations of this book is the author’s choice of point of view. By choosing that of a well-traveled adult who has experienced war and the rapid changes inflicted on the so-called Wild West, Jiles allows the reader to reflect on much more than the child’s experience.

Also in August, I reviewed The Summer Guest by Alison Anderson. In the summers of 1888 and 1889, the Lintvayov family, doctors, teachers, devoted to one another, rented out a guest cottage on their prosperous Ukrainian farm to the Chekhov family. One of the daughters, Zinaida, blinded by a brain tumor, fell in love with Anton Chekhov, and their daily conversations, recorded in Zinaida’s fictional diary, become the linchpin of the novel.

Addressing the translator’s difficulty of getting across meaning through the barrier of time and language, and the publisher’s task to disseminate the writer’s vision, this book is also an elegy for a moment in history, for a slower, more natural world, for the need for connection, for literature as the pathway to understanding our fellow human beings.

Feast of Sorrow by Crystal King. The ancient world happens to be a nerdy fascination of mine. I even have a book of recipes from imperial Rome. So it was with delight that I picked up Feast of Sorrow, a debut novel by Crystal King. King includes recipes (flamingo tongues anyone?) in this story of Thrasius, the celebrity chef of Marcus Gavius Apicius. A slave to the patrician Apicius, it could have been Thrasius who actually wrote the famous first cookbook. Reviewed in May.

My own literary highlight of the year was of course, the publication of my novel Lipstick on the Strawberry, in July. I’m so grateful for all the positive reviews and comments! On to the next book in 2018.

Wishing everyone a happy New Year!

The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book

By Carolyn Wyman
The Countryman Press, 2014

Camilla, my caterer heroine in my novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, loves to bake. So do I, and have been baking up a storm for the holidays.

However, squeezing artificially colored frosting over reindeer shaped cookies is not my thing. For gifts and just for eating at home, I prefer something easier to make and universally popular. What could be simpler than chocolate chip cookies? As it happens, the popular sweet “biscuit” (as English Camilla likes to call them), originated in her adopted home, Massachusetts, 79 years ago. Now Massachusetts has adopted this yummy treat as its “state cookie.”

I learned this from Carolyn Wyman’s The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book. It’s a book I turn to now when I need a particular variation on the theme. For example, her freeze-ahead dough bakes up beautifully when thawed. And she’s figured out how to approximate Mrs. Field’s huge cookies with macadamia nuts. That recipe is a closely held corporate secret.

But back to the original chocolate chip cookie.

Credit for the cookie and its name goes to a woman named Ruth Graves Wakefield. She bought the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, in 1930, and turned it into a popular eating establishment. The Nestle company has been associated with the cookie since its beginning. In one variation of the origin story, Mrs. Wakefield, experimenting with a cookie recipe, found to her surprise that the new Nestle chocolate chips did not melt into the batter but retained their shape. In another story, bars of Nestle chocolate held on a counter above the mixer in the kitchen fell into the batter, and the cook decided to bake the batter rather than remove the chips. The resulting sweet cookie, made with a mix of brown and white sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla, with its little triangular bits of chocolate poking through, became a favorite.

All that became a cute marketing story for Nestle, but some have questioned the “accidental
cookie” theory. After all, Mrs. Wakefield was a trained dietician and a restaurant owner.

Apparently she did receive as a gift a new kind of semi-sweet chocolate bar from Nestle, which
she incorporated into the cookie. But it seems likely to me her experimentation was as deliberate as the manufacturer’s. The official version peddles the myth that women invent things by accident rather than by design and therefore don’t deserve fair payment for their work. If you think about it, Mrs. Wakefield’s invention should have brought her a handsome share of Nestle’s chocolate chip profits. But while her recipe is on every package of the chips, Ruth Wakefield sold the rights to use her recipe to Toll House for a dollar. Some say she received for her efforts a lifetime of free chocolate. Or maybe that’s just another story. According to Carolyn Wyman, Mrs. Wakefield’s family remains mum about the financial arrangement between her and Nestle.

In The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book, the author suggests that the myths about the cookie’s “accidental” creation say more about us than about Nestle or the enterprising Ruth Wakefield.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. Notice how that phrase implies that creation is a woman’s business. But do women- especially in business – get the credit they deserve for invention?

Consolation


At Thanksgiving my friend Linda Larson sent me Annie Prouix’s National Book Awards Speech, given November 15. Some called it gloomy, with its lamentation about the present state of the world. But Prouix ended on a hopeful note. She read this poem by Wislawa Szymborska. As in the third stanza, maybe all of us who’ve lived long enough have “earned the right to happy endings, at least in fiction”.

That’s why I write romance, or rather, its sister, Women’s Fiction. I disagree with those who say it doesn’t deserve its own genre (but that’s another discussion). After all, it is women who must stay positive, as we’re the ones who bring forth the next generation.

Consolation
By Wislawa Szymborska
Translated by Clare Cavanagh

Darwin.
They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I’m ready to believe it.


Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.

Hence the indispensable
silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,
the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded,
fortunes regained, treasures uncovered,
stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways,
good names restored, greed daunted,
old maids married off to worthy parsons,
troublemakers banished to other hemispheres,
forgers of documents tossed down the stairs,
seducers scurrying to the altar,
orphans sheltered, widows comforted,
pride humbled, wounds healed over,
prodigal sons summoned home,
cups of sorrow thrown into the ocean,
hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation,
general merriment and celebration,
and the dog Fido,
gone astray in the first chapter,
turns up barking gladly
in the last.

The Miniaturist


By Jessie Burton

Harper Collins, Ecco Paperback Edition, 2015

Sometimes you read a debut novel and you think, this simply cannot be the work of a first-time author. The originality of the subject matter, the world building, and the believable growth of the characters are all marks of a very experienced writer. Yet all these characterize this book by English writer Jessie Burton.

No wonder it was a New York Times best-seller.

In the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is a “cabinet house” or large dollhouse, once owned by a woman name Petronella Oortman, who lived in the seventeenth century. As lovers of this historical period know, the late 1600’s was the apogee of the United Provinces of the Netherland’s influence in the world. The merchants of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company, brought wealth and fame to Holland. The comfortable lifestyle of its wealthy and middle classes have been conveyed to us through the paintings of the Dutch masters, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch, Judith Leyster and others.

In The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton imagines the life of Petronella, “Nella”, the bride of an Amsterdam merchant named Johannes Brandt. He gave the cabinet to his wife as a wedding gift. In Burton’s telling, the cabinet’s maker is not only an artistic virtuoso, but prescient as well. The tiny items created to be set inside the cabinet include uncanny likenesses of the house’s human and animal inhabitants. They also offer jarring portents of future events. Nella’s disturbance at these weird gifts mirrors her growing unease at secrets she fears are held by her husband and his sister, Marin.

As Nella uncovers the truth about the family she has married into, she grows in maturity and compassion. Burton’s skill in portraying this is remarkable. As the story progresses we learn much about the social repression that accompanied the commercial success of Calvinist Holland. At the same time, the quasi-democratic values held by the Dutch, their belief in capitalism rather than a class system based on aristocracy, and their emphasis on domestic cleanliness, order and financial security make this era more accessible to us than other periods of history.

When we look back at history, we can only imagine what it was like to live then and there. The novelist’s job is to bring the past to life. Burton has taken liberties in that the real Petronella Oortman was a wealthy widow by the time she married merchant Johannes Brandt, while in the book Nella is a naïve eighteen-year- old, and the fate of Brandt propels the book’s plot. Burton has taken an historical person and surrounded her with a dose of magic, both literally, as told in this story, and metaphorically, as in the skill of her writing.

This is a wonderful book.

The All-Americans

The All-Americans
By Angela Farley

Amazon Digital Services, 2017

We live in an age of terrorism. We live in an age of gun violence. When the two are combined on American soil, with innocent hostages slated for execution, our sense of safety unravels.

In this gripping story, twelve random strangers are kidnapped in movie theatres across the United States. They are imprisoned by operatives intent on punishing Americans for the violence they’ve inflicted in other parts of the world during the war on terror. Oddly, the terrorists themselves are for the most part not foreigners, but mercenaries hired to execute the victims one by one. And, foiling their plan to kill all-Americans, the victims are not all native-born citizens of the United States. This is the first twist this author introduces to her plot. It is a telling one, because it indicates the real nature of our diverse society. What truly, does it mean to be an American, she suggests. As the book progresses, it becomes a fascinating study of the relationships that develop between some of the captives and their captors. If the captor can begin to see his victim as a human being, then there is a possibility of hope. But that is not all. The captive too, can shape the narrative if given time to think, observe, and above all, have someone else to live for.

I had the pleasure of meeting Angela Farley when she shared an author event with me at Orinda Books, California, on October 21. She is a nurse by profession, and her knowledge of physiology gives her story a lot of credibility as she describes the reactions of the victims to their predicament. Angela also remarked during her reading of passages from The All-Americans that she reflected on her time in the Emergency Room. Patients would come in with life-altering illnesses or injuries, all of them shocked to find themselves in this situation. Some would fight for their lives and some would give up. The will to live is what enables some victims of threatened death to survive. In another twist on the expected, Angela Farley shows us that this will can change throughout the ordeal; a chance to live given up one moment may not be the end, and conversely, a determination to survive may be snuffed out by a captor’s quick trigger.

Angela Farley has written a movie-worthy thriller, as much a psychological study of captives and captors as an action-filled story. This book kept me up for hours as I read it in a single sitting.