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A Brief Lunacy

3.3  ·  Rating Details ·  148 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Jessie and Carl have made a terrible mistake. They should have been more careful. When Jonah came to their cabin in the Maine woods, asking to use the phone, they should never have let him in. But he told them his campsite had been robbed and he was stranded with no money and no gear. Jessie took pity on him. She was thinking about her own missing daughter, Sylvie, and ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 18th 2005 by Algonquin Books
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Nov 15, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
All I could think was, has this woman been watching Funny Games?
Nov 20, 2016 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audio
Would have been a 4-star rating, as I really enjoyed the story and its structure and characters, but there were just too many moments of, "Wait, where the hell did that comparison [thought, remark, metaphor] come from?"

For instance, at one point in the story the viewpoint character is "surprised" by (view spoiler) Hmm. The book is rife with remarks like this, t
Dec 01, 2008 David rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Immediately after finishing A Brief Lunacy I jumped online and gave it 1 star, as it was completely unrealistic, way too long and seemed to go nowhere. Jump ahead to three days later, and now it gets 3. It deserves 2.5 stars, but as that is not possible, I'll round up and give it three. Why the change in starage - simple, I couldn't put the put down. I had to find out what happened to Carl, Jessie and Jonas. Would they survive? Who would die? Would Sylvie rescue them. If I was wrapped up in ...more
Mar 06, 2010 Stacy rated it it was amazing
This book started as many for me, where I read the first few pages and thought, "Oh. Okay". Somewhere, lost in time, there was a knock at the door of Carl and Jesse's door.

Jesse and Carl, retired, living the life they have always dreamed, by turning their once summer cabin to their retirement home. They laughed, drank wine, painted and enjoyed spending their days watching the pine trees grow and the seagulls fly... Then there was a knock at the door.

Once the 'knock' occured, I was hooked. I sa
Nov 25, 2012 Ficie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
(3.5/5 stars)

An unusual hostage situation, involving an elderly couple, dredges up a husband's long-buried secrets. I thought the author did a good job of evoking the sense of confusion, fear, shock, and guilt a situation like this would engender. This novel also included beautiful imagery and historical connections that made it more rich and interesting.

For me the character development was fairly strong, but given that this was such a character-driven novel, I expected to feel a deeper connecti
Kathie Haley
Feb 21, 2011 Kathie Haley rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-2011
I was just reading through the reviews after finishing this book. Someone commented that it would have made a great short story, and that is exactly how I feel. There was enough tension to keep me reading, but
it could have easily been condensed. And it was just far too creepy for me to give a higher rating. I was uncomfortable the entire time I was reading it. I can't think of anyone I would recommend it to! It was the same feeling I had when I watched the movie Cape Fear. That said, I may check
Jun 05, 2015 Nikmaack rated it really liked it
It mostly takes place with a few characters in a single room, with flashbacks to other events and people. Action packed and nail biting enough to keep me reading, it also carried some literary pretensions that got in the way for me. It's hard to describe, but art that strives to look like art, instead of merely being art, bugs me.

Overall, a very readable book, that was perfect for my summer holidays. I couldn't put it down.
Aug 08, 2011 Jerry rated it really liked it
I broke from my habit of reading male novelists almost exclusively and, in the end, was glad I did. Yes this novel was "creepy" but the characters felt real and the relationships felt real and the themes felt real, no matter how unrealistic you might think the events to be. And if you're creeped out by the book, it's not going to be for long because it's the kind of book you don't want to put down.
Feb 15, 2011 Jane rated it liked it
This book, as advertised, is scary. Two plots unfold, one happening in the present, one from the past finally told. The mood is so well crafted that I had to stop once in a while to take a deep breath before going on. The main character, Jessie, is strong, just enough, to handle a situation her husband Carl, the problem solver of the family, cannot. The fear of madness in ourselves and others permeates each page. Read in daylight!
April Hochstrasser
Apr 03, 2009 April Hochstrasser rated it liked it
A very short book about an older couple who find themselves held hostage by a crazy person in their own home. The roles kind of reverse themselves as the man ( retired doctor) is found to be the weak link and the wife, who was always the dependent person, is found to be strong. However, her strength almost costs her her sanity in a twist at the end. Interestingly written from alternating viewpoints.
Mar 01, 2008 Ginny rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Not for the tender heart
Set in a cabin in Maine, this thiller takes place in about a 24 hour time period, about all my heart could handle. Fast paced, it is the story of Jessie and Carl and a visitor who is not what he appears to be. I skimmed thru parts of the story because it was too violent for me. I was relieved when it all came to an abrupt end; then wondered how anyone could ever survive such an ordeal. Excellent, concise writing. A book I could not put down.
Beth Gaston
Oct 11, 2010 Beth Gaston rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2010
Chilling and well-paced. Got to a point where I really could not put it down until I finished. Some
disturbing scenes may haunt me forever, however. This speaks to Thayer's writing but isn't entirely pleasant ...
Jan 23, 2010 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating. It explored many interesting elements including mental illness and World War II Nazi Germany. It was so compelling I completed it in one day. Also by Thayer: "A Certain Slant of Light" and "Strong for Potatoes."
Rowan MacBean
Jan 23, 2013 Rowan MacBean rated it liked it
In the wee hours of the morning, I picked up this book, planning to read myself to sleep. Well, now I'm done with it, and I haven't slept. It kept my attention so well I didn't even notice when the sun came up or when my stomach started growling.
Jul 18, 2012 Lms7214 rated it liked it
psychological thriller about couple held captive in their home by a disturbed young man who knows their mentally unstable daughter....good...many layers
Apr 08, 2010 Mom rated it it was amazing
This book caught me right away. A wonderful insight
into relationships and the secrets all of us have even from
loved ones.
Taut and tight, a wise tale of a weekend in which an aging woman and her husband face the troubling past and the hurling present.
Jun 21, 2009 Barb rated it really liked it
A very different Cynthia Thayer book. But, well written and interesting characters as usual. Disturbing plot.
Mar 03, 2013 Lindsey rated it really liked it
I loved the characters and the flow of the book. It hooked me quickly and never let go to the last page.
H rated it liked it
Jul 07, 2016
Kate Berry
Kate Berry rated it liked it
Apr 28, 2011
Emily rated it did not like it
Oct 21, 2010
Skyley rated it really liked it
Apr 20, 2015
Kooheli rated it it was ok
Feb 06, 2011
I read this book in a day... It was super easy to read and kept my interest, but nothing special.
Rebecca Hayes
Rebecca Hayes rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2012
Martha Couture
Martha Couture rated it really liked it
Feb 06, 2016
E rated it it was ok
Feb 05, 2016
Brian Wood
Brian Wood rated it liked it
Dec 24, 2011
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Cynthia Underwood Thayer was born in New York City in 1944, raised in Nova Scotia and migrated to Maine via Massachusetts in 1976 to farm organically. For many years she was a weaver, showing her work throughout Maine and the east coast. Seventeen years ago, at the age of 50, she wrote her first short story, which was published in the Antigonish Review, and was hooked on writing.

She earned her BA
More about Cynthia Thayer...

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