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Burning Marguerite

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  313 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
One winter morning James Jack Wright finds ninety-four-year-old Marguerite Deo—the woman he has always known as “Tante”—lying dead in the woods outside his cabin, clad only in a flowered nightgown. With this arresting scene, Elizabeth Inness-Brown ushers readers into her mysterious and lyrical narrative, the story of two closely braided lives that forces a reconsideration ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2002)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Jan 13, 2009 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette by: rosen
3 1/2 stars

With just a little more depth, this would have been a four-star book for me. There were some things left unexplained about certain characters that left their motivations a little fuzzy. However, this was still a very captivating story. I read all but the last 20 pages in one night!! The prose is very smooth and light, making it very easy to read. This kind of prose always makes me suspect an author of secretly being a poet.

This is a very different sort of mystery in that you don't re
...more
Jeanne
Apr 26, 2015 Jeanne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this book 3.5 stars.

The story centers on Marguerite's family history as told by her in segments throughout the book.
It a story of love, hate, denial, murder and forgiveness. It is the story of a woman who is able to reinvent herself for decades in order to survive and to protect her "son" Jack James. Marguerite is Jack's guardian. While her early life centers on her own survival, all that changes when Jack James enters her life. In this sense, it is a family love story. I loved Ma
...more
gaudeo
Jul 20, 2012 gaudeo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the very best books I've read in a long time. From the setting to the characterization to the plotting, this is an assured and moving novel. The relationship at its heart, that between a man and the woman who raised him, is rendered with great depth. I'll be recommending this book to anyone who will listen!
Melanie
Oct 13, 2015 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved the author's writing as well as the story.

From amazon:

One winter morning James Jack Wright finds ninety-four-year-old Marguerite Deo—the woman he has always known as “Tante”—lying dead in the woods outside his cabin, clad only in a flowered nightgown. With this arresting scene, Elizabeth Inness-Brown ushers readers into her mysterious and lyrical narrative, the story of two closely braided lives that forces a reconsideration of our notions of maternity, loyalty, love, and perhaps death it
...more
Jessica
Sep 16, 2015 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best book I've read in a while! Highly recommend!
Elizabeth
Feb 19, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully done but sad.
Nance
Aug 14, 2014 Nance rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved the characters
Graceann
Aug 24, 2010 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Jack wakes up one morning to find his 94-year-old guardian, the lady who raised him and loved him all his life, dead in the snow outside their home. From this grim start stems a layered, beautifully-written story of secrets and sacrifice.

The life of Marguerite Deo is told in her own voice, reaching back across the years. She reveals her story in her own time, and expects you to be patient and to trust that the information she imparts now will have meaning later. I loved Marguerite, and wa
...more
Rosemary
Sep 09, 2014 Rosemary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had the kind of journey I love. You sometimes feel like you are meandering down side streets, peaking around corners, and discovering interesting bits of the world to pocket away and bring out every once in a while to contemplate on. Loved it and cried when the journey was over, not because I was happy or sad, something in-between?

If you don't enjoy Literary Fiction this probably won't do anything for you but if you like to take that road sometimes I highly recommend.
Sandie
Dec 12, 2012 Sandie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A friend recommended this book. It is unclear where the book is set, but the author lives on an island in Lake Champlain, so I am thinking it might be Vermont. The main family is of French ancestry.

I liked the book, it was a bit of a slow start, but once you get into it it is riveting. I thought the plotting was mostly well done, but I had a problem with the denouement. If Daniel was a rapist, why is the couple holding hands? Wouldn't she be afraid of him? Or at least disliking him? Their frien
...more
Judy
Jan 25, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aging
Enough mystery and character development to keep me reading. I found myself caring about the people, but I did find the story development/ending predictable. Some good insights into children's reactions to losing parents, being raised by others, and into the mind of someone who, in turn, raises the children for others.
Natalie
Dec 01, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, this book left me very pleasantly surprised. It's been awhile since I've read a book that drew me in to the character's stories and left me wanting more. On the same note, though, it didn't go on too long or wear out its welcome. Even though I didn't care for the character of James Jack, I loved his story. Marguerite had such an convoluted, dramatic life that seemed to have roller coaster ups and downs on every page. I enjoyed the fact that it was told backwards. This made it more ...more
Priscilla
Sep 27, 2015 Priscilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burning Marguerite is a strong first novel, not without its flaws (italicized sections intrusions and change of narrator not always smooth), but still well written, even lyrical at times, and very good poignant story.
Christine
I would give this book 3.5 stars. Somewhere between liked it and really liked it.

I read this for my work book club. I read it quickly and enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't say I LOVED it. It's very well-written, but kind of weird. It was a good pick for October/Halloween.

During the majority of the book I enjoyed the backstory more than the mystery at the center of the novel until I realized they were the same thing. Innes-Brown does a good job of slowly unfolding the details of Marguerite Deo'
...more
Yvonne
Aug 28, 2010 Yvonne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that remind you that family is what you make of it. I was certainly saddened by the fact that Maurgurite's family was so easily able to turn her out for her youthful disgressions, to take a life so easily as though it would erase what happened.

It was just a pleasing to see her fortune turn around in finding a strong bond of love and her determination in raising James Jack, though I do wonder if it was her way of redeeming herself. Despite that, the bond between Marguer
...more
Wendy
Jul 08, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I wasn't sure about this book, but as you sink deeper into the story it unfolds from end to beginning. The characters are revealed through flashbacks that are well done. You think you understand a person and why they do things, but then family secrets and past heartaches slowly unfold giving much better insight. It's almost surprising that you don't see it before. I thought it was well written for a mature audience. I like the blending of the characters lives and think Inness-Brown is a ...more
Jennifer
Feb 08, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story of James Jack who finds his Tante Marguerite's body in the snow is told in backward style so it's not until the end that you really understand how everything came to be. It's so well told, with Tante's narration at the beginning of each chapter. When I finished and finally had the "Ah-ha!" I wanted to go back and re-read it.
Pdamon
Aug 26, 2015 Pdamon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was intelligently written. It ends when it should. Unfortunately, I have read too many books from the "live long and tragically" genre lately to truly appreciate this one.
Cynthia
Feb 25, 2014 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book when you want an interesting story and a quick read. Very character focused with a story that gets deeper and more complex as the story progresses and the main character opens up her world to the reader. Definitely enjoyed this novel.
Carrol
May 11, 2008 Carrol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me as a "favorite". I had neither heard of it or it's author. It is a haunting story that unfolds throughout the entire novel. The story is alternately narrated by (recently deceased) 94 year old Marguerite and James Jack, the 35 year old she raised from a child. Marguerite has many secrets which unfold throughout the story and ultimately explain motivation in raising James Jack. It is basically set on a barren New England island but also parts of it take place in New Orle ...more
Christine
Jan 17, 2016 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-book
I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the settings of this book, an exciting little read.
Jennifer
Jan 31, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I remember loving the tone of this. And the creepiness. That's all I remember.
Naomi
Mar 11, 2014 Naomi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely boring and it was too slow. the plot was dry for me,leaving my mind to wonder off in search of better books on my shelves.
Jenny K
This book was kind of choppy in the layout to me. I actually just picked it off the library shelf. It was ok entertainment wise, but would not recommend it.
Debby
Feb 13, 2014 Debby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
well done..rather depressing
anna
Sep 24, 2008 anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice read, thoroughly enjoyerd it... visited end of life, relationship, and family issues pretty deeply. I only wish a few more things were laid out, it seemed there were holes. like now, a week later, I am still wishing I had answers to certain questions about characters and events. I guess to me that is also what makes one book stand out more than another (if i am still thinking of it a week later) so maybe the missing pieces were a good thing.
Jennifer Schneider
I had the hardest time getting in to this book. I struggled through the first 70 pages or so. The writing felt awkward and overly flowery. But then, suddenly, it felt easier to read, and it was much more interesting. In the end, the story wasn't very exciting, and the big secret didn't feel all that shocking. And I hated the ending. Overall, I felt very ambivalent about this book.
Sharon
Oct 10, 2011 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I looked carefully for the first book I would be recommending to my new book group. I am pleased with this selection. The author creates a story of love, and the communities we make in our towns and our families. Fierce love, growing and healing interweave between stories going forward with James Jack and reflecting back with Tante. Looking forward to the discussion.
Elena
Sep 30, 2014 Elena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Burning Marguerite is an elegant little treasure that is both lyrical and engaging. The story unfolds from three distinct voices and the way the author weaves the three stories into one cohesive plot is extremely well done. Details about life on the island and depression era New Orleans are picturesque and the setting is an intricate part of the novel.
Lisa
Apr 04, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely, sad book set in both New England and New Orleans about family love and obligation, but especially what it means to be a mother. This book is full of secrets which reveal themselves slowly, in beautifully honed language. This book is for people who love literary fiction as well as those who just want a good yarn.
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