Secrets and lies suffuse generations of one Pennsylvania family, creating a vicious cycle of cruelty in this historical novel that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s. Raised in a crumbling New England mansion by four women with personalities as split as a cracked mirror, young Francis Grayson has an obsessive need to fix them all.
There's his mother, distant and beautiful Magdalene; his disfigured, suffocating Aunt Stella; his odious grandmother; and the bane of his existence, his abusive and delusional Aunt Lothian. For years, Francis plays a tricky game of duck and cover with the women, turning to music to stay sane. He finds a friend and mentor in Aidan Madsen, schoolmaster, local Revolutionary War historian, musician and keeper of the Grayson women's darkest secrets. In a skillful move by Fullbright, those secrets are revealed through the viewpoints of three different people-Aidan, Francis and Francis'stepdaughter, Elyse-adding layers of eloquent complexity to a story as powerful as it is troubling. While Francis realizes his dream of forming his own big band in the 1940s, his success is tempered by the inner monster of his childhood, one that roars to life when he marries Elyse's mother.
Elyse becomes her stepfather's favorite target, and her bitterness becomes entwined with a desire to know the real Francis Grayson. For Aidan's part, his involvement with the Grayson family only deepens, and secrets carried for a lifetime begin to coalesce as he seeks to enlighten Francis-and subsequently Elyse-of why the events of so many years ago matter now. The ugliness of deceit. betrayal and resentment permeates the narrative, yet there are shining moments of hope, especially in the relationship between Elyse and her grandfather.
Ultimately, as more of the past filters into the present, the question becomes: What is the truth, and whose version of the truth is correct? Fullbright never untangles this conundrum, and it only adds to the richness of this exemplary novel. A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy's sometimes excruciating embrace.
Lee Fullbright lives in San Diego, CA, on beautiful Point Loma, with her Australian cattle dog, Baby Rae (owner of her heart). Her historical psychological-suspense novel, The Angry Woman Suite, a Kirkus Critics’ Pick, won a Discovery Award, a Royal Dragonfly H.M., and the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, as well as the SD Geisel Award for "best of the best."
This is a family saga that is told from the Point of View of three very different characters. A tale that goes back into as early as the early 1900s and deals with different aspects of a dysfunctional family.
First is Elyse who is uprooted from her familiar surrounding when her mother marries a yesteryear rock star. When she hears her step father use a certain word, she takes it upon herself to find out who he was referring to. She is shown to be a 9 years old when the first chapter of the book and we later find out about the shocking childhood she has had. Second is that of Elyse’s step father – Francis as he narrates his story - his life hasn’t been all stars and shine either. He blames his mother and her sisters for everything that had gone wrong in his life and especially for the childhood he has had. As his days of glory are over, he is left to his addiction and slowly develops a problem. The third is that of Aiden, an outsider to the family, yet somehow he is equally important to the story. He is a family friend and mentor to Francis. His narration actually gives us an opinion on what an outsider would see if they cared to look into this family. Then there is Magdalene – though she is not a narrator of the story, I feel a certain amount of compulsion to mention her. She seems to be at the center of the story touching the lives of every other character and influencing almost all the events. She is the ‘angry woman’.
The plot of this story incorporates the many facets of dysfunctional family, family feud, murder, secrets and betrayal. So you see, no matter what the name suggests it is not just about a bunch of angry ladies. It is so much more. But it is really difficult to say much about the plot without giving up some spoilers. Let’s just say that the mystery lovers will get ample opportunity to play the ‘whodunit’ game. The contemporary lovers will find their fill as will the romance lovers. There’s a mix of various genres, bringing together a novel that will appeal to a wide number of readers.
It is really difficult for me to believe that this is a debut novel as Lee Fullbright has come across as a master storyteller. She has managed to bring different aspects of life together with a huge number of distinctive characters to tell the most fascinating story that I have read in recent times. Her research work and attention to detail has contributed hugely to bring vivid colours into the story.
I recommend this book to everyone with a word of caution – this is by no means a light read.
FIRST READS WIN: OMG! Where do I begin? I wanted to post regarding this book from the first day I began reading it and several, if not many, times as I read it; however, I forced (literally) myself to wait until I was finished so I could give it a much-deserved fair assessment.
The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright is a suspense novel that is told by three different narrators, Elyse, Francis, and Aiden in three different time frames. I honestly think that this suspense novel is in a category all its own as it is suspense, mystery, history, romance, and even a little comedy (I found myself laughing and saying, "No way!" or "OMG...too funny!") all rolled in to one.
We love books for so many reasons, one being that we can live vicariously through the characters...IF they are credible, and Fullbright has definitely developed characters that the reader learns to love...or hate! She developed characters that elicited both emotions within me, as well as anger, disbelief, compassion, confusion (regarding why certain characters would do what they did), and so much more.
One aspect of Fullbright's writing that I thoroughly enjoy is that she invites the reader to exercise brain power by giving him or her enough foreshadowing to make you THINK you know what's going to happen, but then she says, "No, it's not what you think." This author has a genuine ability to take you right to the edge of the cliff (or your seat) and make you think you are going over it, and then swerve in a different direction entirely.
Another aspect of her writing that I so value in this book is her use of vocabulary. She uses words in this book that are novel (pun intended), educating, and even fun. (Okay, I will divulge that I am an English teacher at the high school level and I learned some new expressions to try out on some unsuspecting colleagues! LOL)
It's difficult to write a review without discussing the characters that I have developed a fondness for or that I despise because I want others to develop their own opinions. I will say that my favorite characters are Elyse, Lothian, and Francis, but for completely different reasons. Some characters you love for their charm, innocence, grace; others you love (to hate) because they were so cleverly developed as the "bad guy"; and still others you simply loathe because they are so rotten to the core!
I highly recommend that you read this book if you like a novel that is engaging, one of its kind, and will make you think.
To the author: I absolutely love your style of writing. I loved thinking I knew what was happening next and then BAM! You switched it up! As a whodunit book, I didn't know "who done it" until the end! CLEVER!! PLEASE give us more!!
I originally agreed to read this book for three reasons: (1) It was described as literary fiction, and I ADORE litfic; (2) I sniff out good litfic like a crazed booksnob bloodhound; and (3) one of the characters is nicknamed "Bean," which is also my daughter's nickname (although I'm not so happy about that particular coincidence now).
I went into the book with elevated expectations, given what I already knew about it and the person who had recommended it to me. I started reading with the knowledge that I was very likely going to be amused, entertained, and impressed. I had very high hopes for The Angry Woman Suite.
Even with all that, the book absolutely blew me away.
I will not be recounting the plot in this review. I do this with good reason--anything I could say would likely give something away that you're better off reading in Fullbright's exceptional prose. Believe me, although this might be frustrating now (I'm taunting you, aren't I? The book is great, I crow. I won't tell you anything about it, though--neener-neener-neener!), you'll thank me later. Fullbright treats her story, and her characters, with such a masterful touch that just about anything I could say about them would give something away that shouldn't be given away until its precise moment in the story.
Fullbright is a master story-teller. She carefully places Easter eggs throughout the story, giving you just enough information to make you keep reading, and slipping innuendo and mystery in a manner that both delights and enrages. The tale is told from the perspective of three characters--Elyse, Francis, and Aidan--and the insight they each bring to the story both clarifies and obscures (I know! Maddening!) the driving forces and the truth of the story.
Perhaps best of all (to my litero-masochistic tastes) is that the end is murky and ambiguous--what exactly is the truth? Fullbright knows, but she's not telling. Who do you trust? Who do you believe? You'll find your allegiances shifting constantly as you read, identifying (oftentimes grudgingly) with flaws and actions that you can't believe you condone, much less understand.
Every single one of her characters is fully fleshed out. They're legitimately human. They jump, unbidden, from the page. The plot, even in its sometimes unbelievable, seemingly larger-than-life occurrences, drips with realism--you find yourself thinking, You know, I bet this has happened somewhere. However unlikely, I bet it has. Tragic heroes, heartwrenching situations, bittersweet moments, thwarted and misguided love--it's all there. All of it, in the gruesome, human, too-real world that Fullbright poignantly draws with her wordsmith's quill.
My only complaint? I wish the cover were different. I know what it represents, and I understand its significance, but I don't think it does the book justice. Had I seen it on a bookstore shelf, I wouldn't have picked it up, simply based on the cover (old adages about being a judgy booksnob be damned). I think the story deserves a more Jonathan Safran Foer treatment in its cover--more cryptic, starker, of a higher contrast. Much like the tale itself. (ETA: The cover, since I wrote my original review, has been revised--and this new, darker cover with the creepy mansion on it is PERFECT. Just PERFECT for the book.)
Despite my single reservation, though, I would heartily recommend The Angry Woman Suite to anyone, litfic aficionado or not, who wants to be wrapped up so tightly in a story that they forget to stop reading. You might even forget to eat. And sleep. It's THAT good.
The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright is an independent 2012 publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As I have only completed this book about ten minutes ago the effects are super fresh in my mind. I am just rocked by this novel. This stunning novel has left me with no words at the moment. I will think about this book all night and tomorrow and for a long time to come. Set in the 1900's all the way through to the 1960's the narrative switches back and forth between Francis, Aidan, and Elyse. A set of portraits of the beautiful Magdalene, one of the eccentric Grayson sisters will set off a chain of events that will follow them through decades of secrets, lies, extortion, murder, manipulations, and cruelty. Twisted, evil, diabolical minds and deeds, greed, lust, jealously, anger, frustration, sickness in the mind, sickness in the body, and the attempt to right wrongs or set things right based on guilty or a misplaced sense of duty all factor into the story. There are intense scenes of abuse both physical and mental. Your heart will ache for two innocent children who have the misfortune of bearing the brunt of all these machinations that have gone on for decades. The first voice you will hear is that of Elyse. The year is 1955 and the location is Sacramento. Elyse and her younger sister, Beatrice, who is only ever called “Bean” are the daughters of Diana whose first husband died young. Now remarried to Francis, the two girls lives will become a living nightmare. The only bright spot in Elyse's life is her grandfather who she will have to be separated from when her mother remarries. It will fall upon Elyse's shoulders to shield her sister from as much abuse as possible.
From here we are given the viewpoint of Francis and he tells a very different story from that of Elyse.
Then we hear from Aidan who tells his story going all the way back to 1900- 1916 in East Chester County in the community of Chadds Ford. Aiden is a school teacher just starting out with big ideals. Aiden was a bit of a mamma's boy for a long time and when his mother passed he still didn't have a lot of social skills. It never occurred to him at the time he was teaching the Grayson girls, Madalene and Lothian , and Elizabeth that one day he would become so embroiled in their lives as well as being involved in the life of one of his favorite students, Jamie Waterson. Through Jamie, Aiden seems to develop a “man crush” on Matthew Waterson, Jamie's father and a famous aritst. For some time he never sees or is introduced to Matthew's wife, but eventually she shows up in Chadds Ford as well and this is where things get complicated.
After we have been set up a little with all the main players, we are taken on a trip through the past from thirties, to the forties, to the sixties as we watch Magdeline become the model for a set of portraits by Matthew titled “The Angry Woman Suite”. These portraits will become a sensation and make a lot of money for the Grayson family, who by this time are in dire need of funds. They will also set off a string of heartbreaks and tragedies.
Each character is this book as been given an in depth voice and once I started reading these first person narratives I couldn't put this book down. This book is a fascinating study of small town eccentricities, unrequited love and the consequences people paid for their myraid of sins. Who do you believe? Which person is telling the real truth? The reader will ulitmately have to decide that but I think most will know the real truth even if there are alternate theories offered up. Even though these people have lived through a lot of grief and many trials we are still left the feeling that the stongest will survive and that good will triumph in the end.
I loved the idea of having more than one character give a first person narrative. I've said this before, but it's like having your cake and eating it too. All the benefits of first person story telling and the benefit of third person narrative too. We get to know the innermost thoughts of these characters and their personal perspective on events and how they view the secondary characters. Francis hated the family of women he was saddled with and veiwed them from a different perpective than Aidan. Aidan perhaps saw everything from the angle of “the big picture”, but his motives were not always pure and he didn't have the ability to see into the future because if he had he most certainly would never had taken the actions he did. Each person that reads this book will of course have his or her own opinion on these characters, but I think Aidan did try to do the right thing by everyone. Aidan was flawed in his love for some people, like Jamie and Francis. Despite their flaws he still loved them and at times it made me angry because he didn't step in and rescue Elyse when it was clear she was being practically tortured and poor Bean was flat out ingnored by a self absorbed mother and wicked, twisted, step-father. Not that it was Aidan's responsibility per se, but it appeared no one else was going to do it and Aidan was perhaps the most aware the situation.
This story was an amazing character study, a novel that I will want to read again someday. I love a novel that has so many complex angles. As a lover of the old Gothic type novels – especially Southern Gothic, I thought at times this book had that tone. The setting was maninly in Pennsylvania and the New England coast, California and Biloxi were also places the family traveled, so Southern Gothic couldn't apply really, but the tone was certainly there. There were certianly a few bats in the belfry as they say and a plethora of family secrets that will keep you wondering if one person could be held responsible for the way things worked out or if it was a chain of events and actions by several people that brought things to such a tragic point. This author certainly has a bright future if she can pull something like this off with a first novel. I recommend this book to book lovers- period. No matter what genre you tend to lean toward you really should treat yourself to this book .
This novel is very well-written with a strong voice. The voice overwhelms the three points of view from which the story is told: Elysse, the step-daughter; Francis, the step-father, and Aidan, Francis' school teacher and mentor who is friend to both. Each has a small group of significant companions--the wise and good grandfather, the damaged aunt, the lovers, and above all Magdalene, David's mother and the model for the Angry Woman Suite, a set of ten paintings. These paintings were intended, we are told, to represent a marriage, but we are also told, "there is nothing loving about them." The novel, like the paintings, is suffused with anger, hate and pain--"the hurting is always caused by someone who loves you and [whom] you love back."
Of Magdelene herself, it is said that she is "suspended between avoidance and obsession." Like one of the characters in an episode, the reader moves through the story as if striding through "corridors redolent of old urine and spent dreams." What love shows through in brief moments here and there in the novel appears when there is comfort that comes from "recognition of the beloved." Withall, this is a bleak and unsettling story; yet, it is nonetheless a compelling read.
Now we know--that the corollary of a Romantic piety is not true--that our saddest thoughts do not yield our sweetest songs. But they do yield novels that deserve to be read.
The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright Release Date: March 10th, 2012 Publisher: Telemachus Press Page Count: 366 Source: Complimentary copy provided by publicist, Little Bird Publicity, in exchange for an honest an unbiased review
What Stephanie Thinks: They say there are multiple sides to every story, but what do you do when you hear all of them at once? How do you know which one to believe?
The Angry Woman Suite introduces us to our three tragic heros: Elyse, a young girl who's always just wanted to know to love and be loved; Francis, her stepfather, who's always been too good, too good for even himself; and Aidan, confidante to both Elyse and Francis, the epitome of both wisdom and weakness. Readers are exposed to Elyse's terrifying and beseeching childhood, and the even-more disturbing upbringing of Francis, which allows us to understand how he has turned out the way he is, and just how that might affect his future. The different perspectives are fascinating to stick with and attempt to unravel. What makes this book stand out the most is that we don't only have an unreliable narrator; we've got three.
Elyse's story is the most believable just because her voice is so fresh, so wholesome, and it revolves around the confusion and uncertainty — and horror — she's felt ever since Francis came into her life. Francis's is even rawer and even more shocking, but it seems to be influenced greatly by his histrionics, which is plausible given how he is portrayed by both Elyse and Aidan. Aidan's is rather mellow, at least at first, but it ends up being the most deceitful, the most revealing, of all. He's such a sage, experienced character... or so we think. It was interesting to watch each character develop as time passed and memories faded.
Oftentimes I found the story's progression confusing because of the different situations and time periods of each narrator. Dates are included at the beginning of each chapter, but it still is hard to untangle the three separate storylines from each other. Too many characters are introduced in the beginning at once, which also contributes to the cloudiness of the plot initially. However, where The Angry Woman Suite is nebulous in structure, it is equally excellent in style. Fullbright has a tender, glimmering voice who knows how to portray each narrator differently, but still very vividly. I found myself being able to relate to each of the main characters, sympathizing with one, then contradicting myself by feeling for another.
A warning would be the book's heavy themes of child abuse. I personally found it tough reading through the more difficult scenes, but the topic is one I am intrigued by in fiction, and therefore could really appreciate. It may make some queasy.
The Angry Woman Suite would probably classify as a mystery, one that involves clandestine family histories, twisted relationships, pretense, ill timing, and a certain ironic sense of tragedy. The constantly swirling questions definitely made this one hard to put down, but at the same time, I was a bit turned off by the length (it dragged on at times) and the disorganized compilation. The characters however, are so real, so crude, that they, as well as their deepest of secrets and greatest of fears, will definitely resonate with readers who give them a try.
Stephanie Loves: "'They need to be exercised, hearts do ... to keep them strong.'"
Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended.
I love novels that span generations and focus on one family. Lee Fullbright delivers a suspenseful tale through the voices of characters in The Angry Woman Suite. Spanning history between the early 1900’s and into the 1960’s we get an inside look at a dysfunctional family and its secrets.
The story is told through the voices of Elyse, Francis’s stepdaughter, Francis himself and a friend of the family Aidan Madsen. The tale weaves back and forth from past to present as we learn the chilling story of Francis Grayson, his family and a painting known as the Angry Woman Suite. As we travel through the generations, and hear their story we begin to put together the mysteries and unravel the Grayson family’s dark secrets. The tale that unfolds is enthralling, filled with twists, painful memories and shocking discoveries.
The characters in Fullbright’s novel come to life in all of their flawed glory. The three main narrators were beautifully fleshed out and my emotions for them changed as the tale unfolded. Each is twisted or warped by the life they have led, each seeks something and felt genuine and believable. Elyse was my favorite voice, I just loved the voice the author gave her. My feelings for Francis changed as the tale progressed. His childhood was chilling and he is a very talented musician. Aidan provides a somewhat unbiased view of the family and his story was fascinating. The Grayson family is a colorful, dysfunctional bunch and I became completely engrossed in their twisted lives. All of the characters we meet in the novel impact the tale and steer the reader towards solving the mystery and I found them to be interesting.
When the novel first starts, I felt confused, and it took me a little while to get acclimated to the author’s writing style and the timeline. Thankfully each chapter has one narrator, and offers a perceptive from their memories. Once I got into the tale, I was able to follow the flow and the time travel weaved together well. Fullbright beautifully paints the world and the people residing in it. I felt like I stepped back in time to the 1900’s. A lot of the secrets and Francis childhood reflect the society they lived in and she accurately portrays this. The tale takes some dark turns and some made me uncomfortable. Some parts of the story and characters felt a little out of place for me, and I wondered if they were really needed. The characters have depth and the author does a wonderful job of fleshing them out. Fullbright shows the consequences of both reacting and not reacting to events throughout the novel. These decisions affected not only one generation but the generation of those to come. I read this novel in the span of about a week. For me I would read a few chapters and then reflect on them before moving forward.
Yes, I would recommend this book - in fact, I may put it on the list for book club next year, But that is a cautious recommendation. Fullbright's style is one that I adore when I'm reading Thomas Hardy, but one that I struggled with here. The "actors" in this play are multi-generational, but they don't relate generationally. So, I was left to question repeatedly Magdalene's relationship with Aidan and Elyse. How did they FIT together?? I felt that many critical characters were not clearly drawn - who they WERE and with what they ADDED to the tale. The speaker changed frequently, as did the era - and I often was lost and had to retrace my steps. The speakers alluded to knowledge they had and I was left to infer what this knowledge was (while literary types may enjoy being left to their own nuances in this way, too much of the story was left to interpretation for my ultimate enjoyment). I would like to discuss this book with others - a good sign - but I'm not sure I would like to reread in preparation for that discussion.
Lee Fullbright’s The Angry Woman Suite is a special read, not just for the multi-generational story line, but for the brilliance in which this very gifted writer writes, like a seasoned classic composer, master class quality, that makes it hard to believe this is her break out novel, her first. So great is the writing, that for that alone it is worth the read, but then she brings in story, rich in character, with all the aspects of the human condition playing out, like a well honed Shakespeare read, the drama and intensity well crafted with dialogue that works, descriptions that bring you home, scenes that flow one to the other, even in divergent times—decades apart, it all works, and works so well that I think I’m going to buy the book and read it again, put it on the shelf along with Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge and Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
The description of this novel made me think of The Thorn Birds, which was not my "usual" genre, but which I just LOVED once I picked it up. The settings are different (The Thorn Birds is set in Australia, whereas The Angry Woman Suite is set in America), but both are long-spanning family histories that cover the same time periods (roughly 1915-1970).
The story opens with Elyse sharing the story of her family and life in 1955, when she was five years old. I was immediately drawn into her tale of her early years in Sacramento with her loving extended family. Her father had passed away before the novel begins, so she and her mother and little sister share their home with Elyse's grandparents and aunt Rose. That is, until her mother remarries to Daddy Francis ("just Daddy," as her mother tells her, not wanting anyone to think that she might have been previously divorced) and moves with her daughters to Missouri. My heart broke for the young Elyse and her sister as they were ripped away from their beloved family and thrust into a nightmare.
The next section is told from Francis' point of view, as he provides his version of Elyse's childhood. He discusses his own early childhood and the experiences he had that molded him into the man he later became in 1933 Pennsylvania. The real mysteries of the novel begin here, from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who lives in the crumbling Grayson House with his brother, mother, grandmother, and two aunts. I was able to feel the confusion he felt as he starts trying to figure out his home life and the events of the past that had created his present.
When Aidan Madsen steps in to narrate the next section, the mystery deepens. All the primary characters have now been mentioned, with lots of hints of love and loss and betrayal, but the connections are still unclear.
Since the story is told from the point of view of these three very different characters, the reader gets three conflicting views of various events. Each narrator tells his/her tale from his/her own unique perspective, with personal prejudices and biases clearly expressed. Hints are dropped as to the various traumatic events that shape each character, which thickens the plot and keeps the reader flipping the pages to find out more about these various tragedies that plague the characters.
Having three narrators could be confusing, but the chapters are clearly titled with not only the narrator's name, but also the location and year in which the events that the narrator discusses occurred. There are no abrupt POV shifts. I do suggest using the list of Narrators and their circles found in the front of the book as a reference rather than trying to understand the connections at the beginning.
This book is an epic saga of a severely damaged family, told from the viewpoints of three people who lived through the events. This is not a feel-good book full of sunshine and happiness. The Angry Woman Suite is an intriguing page-turner full of lies, betrayals, and secrets that are slowly revealed throughout. Definitely a must-read, but make sure you have some free time lined up because you won't want to put this one down.
Elyse Bowden Grayson an abused girl by her stepfather, Francis Grayson, who although is a talented musician has a horrible temperament and a troubled past. Franci's past all begins with how he truhy believes someone in his family of the "women" he grew up with comitted murder. Francis has always held a certain grudge towards women in his family especially Lothian Grayson, his aunt, who would do horrible to him. All in the name of a person named Jamie. Francis though doesn't understand what Jamie has to do with him. Naturally Elyse finds this most fascinating for a chance to discover what is going on in Franci's mind. The chance presents itself when Aidan Madsen a man who is the embodiment of naivety and when Magdalene Grayson a woman of fierce ambition but forever distant show up in Elyse's life.
The Angry Woman Suite is what can be best described as a Psychological Mystery novel with some Romance. It's the story of family greed, ambition, and most of all how as humans we are flawed and because of that we make choices that affect not only ourselves but our future families. The narration style is masterfully crafted to make it read it read neatly with three different perspectives of Elyse, Francis, and Aidan. It makes reading enjoyable indeed and full of anticipation. The Angry Woman Suite has many, many characters yet even so they are all entirely full-bodied with their goals and feelings that can be seen in plain sight. In a novel such as this it is most important considering the immense intrigue within the whole story. Lee Fullbright has created a novel so incredibly rich and perfect for what is.
The Angry Woman Suite happened to be an "Amazing read!" which not too surprised in retrospect for the reason that Kirkus Reviews named it "SUPERB"..."EXEMPLARY "..."ELOQUENT". It also won the Indie Reader Discovery Awards but as a book blogger those recommending words by professional reviewers more often than not don't sell me on wanting to read a book. As a reader want to experience it for myself. Now have and it is pure artful genius. A really delicious reading experience. Overall: Amazing read! Genre: Psychological Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Amazing!!!! Totally stellar work by an amazing author. Complicated and well thought out plot, had me hooked from the first page. Great mix of history and story
In her Indie Reader Discovery Award winning book Lee Fullbright brings to us what I feel is essentially a book about secrets. The secrets the hold us together and tear us apart. The secrets that build lifetimes of regret and dysfunction, the secrets that define us.
Combining both historical elements and an engaging and complicated story line, Ms. Fullbright brings us literary fiction at it's best. This is not a book you delve into expecting a light read. To me the most engaging and captivating character in this book was Francis Grayson. He embodied brilliance and sorrow in a seamless mixture of of the character you love to hate. He had redeeming qualities, you just had to dig really deep to find them. His abusive and delusional upbringing brought him to his savior, and the central character of the book, Aiden Madsen. It is through Aiden we get the most information of just who Francis was and where he came from. It is thorough Aiden we form our opinions of his character. And we learn that Aiden's character can be just as suspect.
Using a technique that can be hard to sell, switching between the point of view of three main story tellers, Fullbright is able to give us a much broader look at her characters and their motives. Also important to note is the wide historical base Fullbright covers. From the Revolutionary War era, the first world war, the Great Depression and finally the turbulent 70's we can see how each moment in time effects the characters.
This book was impeccably researched and written. It's complicated story line flows smoothly and allows the reader to be immersed in it's world without feeling forced. It was in your face honest, had venomous characters,(characters you loved to hate), and I felt sorry for everyone of the main protagonists. I would recommend this book to both historical fiction fans and fans of literary fiction. I absolutely loved this book and it's certainly a keeper for my bookshelf.
Fullbright crafts an intricate narrative, layered with fear, deception, heartache, child abuse, and constant chaos. An aging mansion in Pennsylvania, and a missing suite of paintings, become the bones binding together this skeleton of a family. The story unravels dramatically in detailed, diary-like accounts, written by three main characters, each representing jagged pieces of the past, the present and the possible future of the Grayson legacy.
I found Fullbright’s writing style to be poetic and musical, engaging all of the senses. I also found it to be haunting, staying with me days after I had finished reading the book. In fact, the farther back I stood from the passages, the more depth and detail I saw. It’s as if the characters and the story line continued to present themselves, demanding my attention, reminding me of some basic life lessons that should not ever be forgotten.
“It’s a ludicrous expectation for women to have of men, thinking they live to fill their empty spaces.”
This book is not an easy read, it does require attention and the ability to be patient while the story unfolds. Although each chapter is beautifully written, they require one another for the full impact, much like the way a photo-mosaic requires a distance to see the whole picture. I would recommend this book for individual enjoyment, but I do believe it would be an excellent book for a book club. In fact, I will be recommending it to mine.
Sorry for late review have been sick the past few weeks.
I really enjoyed this book; but, not sure how to write the review.
There are 3 people who tell the story with lots of supporting members throughout their stories.
Starts with a small boy wanting to know how to change angry women; he should know about them as he lives with 3 women who each hates theother for reasons you find as you read the book. It has something to do with the boy but he doesn't understand that. Plus he has a brother who has a different father an doesn't really care for his younger step brother.
About 2 sisters (angry women) and their mom. The supporting members have problems of their own too. Some you don't see until the time comes; mental illness.
Then there is Elyse the little girl who tries to get through life without anyone hurting her little sister bean; when she gets hurt she crawls into her self.
It is about self preservation & how some know what to do to survive & how others never learn to cope.
If you like history mixed in; which I don't usually but I actually enjoyed what I learned as I did not know about the Brandwine war.
I would recommen d if you like a story that has intriuqe, history, hate, love, unknown. It is well worth the read.
Glad I won the book as I probably would not have read it other wise but it truly is a good book.
This novel has three main characters - Elyse, Aiden, and Francis - and the story jumps in time from the early 1900s to the mid 1900s based on who is telling their story. Basically, Elyse is the 5 year step-daughter of Francis who has quite a lot of emotional problems. He blames his upbringing of living in his family house surrounded by his mother, aunts, and grandmother who all tormented him in various ways. Aiden is Francis;s music mentor who also knows his family and then gets to know Elyse when she becomes Francis's stepdaughter. The book has a lot of different subplots involving other characters and to be honest, it was hard to keep track of all the players and their stories since the book jumped back and forth in time. At different points the book alluded to future events or gave foreshadowing to future events in the book but it was a but hard to keep track of it all. However, the main characters are well developed and the story is an interesting one. I was amazed though at how every woman in the novel seems to have serious problems. And I don't know if I totally got the meaning of the Angry Woman Suite of paintings that are part of the story. But I enjoyed it nevertheless.
I thought, after the first chapter, that I had a handle on the title and what it meant. I was totally and completely wrong! This mystery is told from three viewpoints: Elyse, Francis, and Aidan's. Aidan is the central figure and shows up in both Elyse's and Francis's viewpoints as well.
This historical fiction novel addresses the mystery of a celebrity double murder, that of a painter and his wife. It follows a family that is just dysfunction breeding dysfunction for generations. Highlighting some of the worst facets of humanity, you also get the glimmer of the best of humanity: hope and forgiveness.
It is hard to write a review on a book that was so thoroughly engrossing and compelling when all I want to do is bash a character. It wasn't that the character was poorly written; in fact, it was the opposite. He leaps off the page, often strangling me with disgust. I also despised Diana, Elyse's mother, but Francis was just appalling. The characters are SO vivid: Magdalene, Lothian, Aidan, Elyse, Francis, Papa, Aunt Rose, all of them. And you will find yourself engrossed in their twisted, interlaced stories, all tied to The Angry Woman Suite.
Received a copy from the author for a book tour, which asked for my honest review.
Ok. Where to start..... I will start will the positives. This book is told from three different perspectives from three different generations of people. The best way to describe the story is by saying that is the definition dysfunctional relationships in a small town. This book is very relatable, and almost so real. I thoroughly enjoyed these three stories that were all a part of one big story. I thought for sure I had figured out the meaning of the title of this book before I got half way through... Low and behold, I was completely wrong. The story took turns I definitely did not see coming. Nothing I predicted would happen, happened... nothing! The main downfall fell into the three perspectives. At a few points, Fullbright got stuck on a perspective (story) for a such a long period of time, I got lost when the perspective changed. For a short time, I forgot who some characters where because the story had gone so far away from them, I almost forgot they existed. Overall, this book is amazing! It is a MUST read, no matter what kind of genre you prefer to read.
First and foremost, a HUGE thank you to Lee Fullbright - Thank you for writing this amazing debut novel and Thank you for sending me a signed copy ! You are a most talented author and such a kind and giving person ;-)
Told by three inter-twined narrators , this story of dysfunction and craziness is so multi-faceted. The character portrayal brings all the characters to life in such a believable way ( I pray I never meet half of them in person ! ) The plot pulls and twists and turns and teaches and makes one think . The writing style is superb !
Reading The Angry Women Suite was like being on a week-end get away to one of my favorite destinations - hating the thought of it coming to an end , yet savoring every minute of it just the same ! I found it very deserving of a 5 star rating and I highly recommend it. This WILL be a re-read for me ;-)
Fantastic Book- I have found this review super hard to write..... I can not find the right words to express The Angry Woman Suite- I Love It* works for me :) The characters are superb in this story~ full of life and leave you thinking about them long after you've finished reading this book. I found this book extremely hard to put down- The Plot was excellent. The writing flowed well and the story engrossed me from beginning to end. This book has earned the reward received, and I look forward to reading more from Lee Fullbright in the future. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers and is worth the time and money. I'm glad to have read this book- it makes an awesome addition to my bookshelves :)
This family saga was well done and super intense. Not many happy moments, but redemption always seems possible. The Graysons include two lovely individuals, but the rest are insane. I think maybe Buster was one of my favorite characters. He and Aidan are overshadowed by the fabulous Papa, however. Papa, we could all use a grandpa like you. Meeting you was worth reading the whole book. Elyse, I feel you. I only hesitated to read this book because I didn't want my darling husband to think I was "an angry woman". The title is scary!
I realized after I wrote the review that the complex and finally insane paterfamilias was named Lear and he had three daughters. So obvious, yet I didn't make the connection. I don't like it when that happens.
LOVED this book! Fullbright does a remarkable job of developing the characters - you'll love them, loathe a few, and be utterly fascinated by them all. Their complex personalities and viewpoints weave a path through the history of one family that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time. The plot has more twists and turns than Lombard Street, and just as you think you've got it figured out everthing changes - again. This story about seeking truth reminds us that truth can be in the eye of the beholder. Do we ever really know the truth? You won't want to put this book down once you start it!
I found it a little hard to get into this book but am so glad I kept reading because once I did I found it hard to put down! The book is about a dysfunctional family and all the drama, deceit, anger and abuse in the family. The subject is not a light one and the discomfort I felt at times is proof of the skill of the author. Fullbright's characters as well as his plot are very well constructed and I was drawn in by both. While this family could certainly not be described as likable they made me think and were a reminder to beware of the impact the decisions we make can have. I definitely recommend this book and look forward to my next book by this author.
How can this be Fiction? The charecters are so real the story must have happened in actual fact, how could Lee make this stuff up going so deep into details of each person and making everything about the book so believable. I have to admit it had been years since I read a book cover to cover and before picking this one up and being so drawn into it, I was thinking "Now why would I want to read anything about an Angry Woman?"...I'm more into old cars or motorcycles but once I started reading I didn't want it to end.
One of those intense family sagas that skip from one characters view point to another as well as from a different time period that their view takes place. Incredible family secrets and history that had me quite glued to the story with a little mystery thrown in. There are a lot of characters that contribute greatly and I found more than once I was unable to keep track however the futher into the book I got a better grasp I had. It is well worth the effort to read.
I loved this book! Beautifully written- A memorable story filled with wonderfully developed characters who remain with you long after you finish the book! Match that with interesting historical tidbits and an intriguing plot and you've got a recipe for one great novel. Hope to read more from this author.
This was a great read. I loved the multiple narrators, the family dysfunction, the generational consequences of each character's actions, the mystery in figuring out who was related to who and how, and the historical backdrop of multiple American wars. Loved it!
Highly recommended! This book requires great focus because of all the characters and the timeline jumping around. My brain feels like mashed potatoes now...need to recover. I guess I'll find an easy read for my next book to give my brain a rest...
2.5 stars, I guess. I wavered between really kind of hating this book and being completely intrigued by it. I guess that's how I managed to finish it, even though I kept thinking that I didn't like it. I'm usually quite good at giving up on books I don't like. Life is too short.
I marked this as historic fiction, but in reality this story is purely fueled by the characters. It could have been set anywhen. The author cleverly uses interweaving narratives of three different characters to slowly reveal the drama and tragedies of a Pennsylvania family, from the early 1900s through the 1960s.
The bits of drama and intrigue alluded to so heavily in the beginning and gradually uncovered as the story progresses are what kept me going. I really wanted to know what "the murders" were about. (Though when they actually happened, I almost didn't realize that was what the characters had been referring to.) I wanted to know who Jamie was and how he got away. I wanted to know how Those Awful Women had ruined everything.
But the characters themselves? Tragically flawed (in the classical sense, I would argue), every single one. I like my characters a little flawed. Nothing worse than too much saccharine. But these folks had nearly no redeeming qualities, and I dislike that at least as much. I disliked Aidan for . I disliked Francis because he was . I even disliked Elyse, meant to be the most sympathetic character, I think, because .
On top of this, all three narrators were unreliable. I liked this, in that with three different perspectives, I the reader was allowed to make my own judgment call on what was ultimately "truth". I like that there wasn't a single truth, the theme that life is how we see it, that history must be interpreted. I liked that a lot. I didn't like the bits where, because I knew the narrators were unreliable, I occasionally had no idea what was going on. At the climax with Elyse and Francis,
So all in all, I have to give this book props for being clever and having very interesting perspectives, but I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy it very much.
(Setting-wise, it reminded me of The Archivist, another recent-history novel that I didn't really love.)
This intense novel tells a multigenerational story of a complicated family. It is told through different voices over various points in time. Each voice has its own viewpoint, differing greatly but equally important.
We are first introduced to Elyse. She tells the difficult story of her childhood. Much of her early years revolve around her stepfather, Francis. Francis is a renowned musician and very complicated man.
The second voice in this dark saga is Francis. Raised by women with strong, distinct personalities, Francis is at odds with his own childhood. This affects him on many levels. He becomes an angry, self-absorbed, complex man with numerous issues, including perhaps those of entitlement.
The third strong voice in this multilayered drama is Aidan, a trusted family friend and mentor to Francis. Aidan’s journal tries to explain events and relationships objectively. He knows many truths and has kept them for many years.
There are many other interesting characters in this heartbreaking novel, including the “Angry Woman”. Her role is another important layer, tying together many twists and turns.
Dysfunction runs deep in this mosaic of emotional characters. The author is detailed and thorough. She laces each entangled history with betrayal, feuds, secrets, and other dark facets of real life. As in real life, answers don’t always come easy and some secrets are better left alone.
Lee Fullbright has written a novel that will both haunt you and leave you thinking.