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Isabel's Daughter

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,043 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
The first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was at a party in Santa Fe.

After a childhood spent in an institution and a series of foster homes, Avery James has trained herself not to wonder about the mother who gave her up. But her safe, predictable life changes one night when she stumbles upon the portrait of a woman who is the mirror image of he
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 29th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2003)
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Kelsey Stewart
Jul 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
After I read this book I wanted to move to Santa Fe, wear lots of turquoise jewelry, unearth my natural talent in painting watercolors, and only cook authentic Latin American dishes for the rest of my life. In reality, I hate hot climates and the poisonous creatures that inhabit them. But Hendricks made me forget all of that in an instant, and I thank you for that Miss Judith.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women who love love stories that are not romances
Recommended to Relyn by: I love Judith Hendricks.
Shelves: 2017-reread
This was actually a reread for me. I don't know when I first read it or how I missed recording it here on GoodReads. Bummer. I love revisiting my years-old reviews after a reread.

Well just figured out the answer to that. I remember buying it brand new in the bookstore. That's memorable because I very rarely do that - too frugal. This book was published in 2003, which was before my GoodReads days. Anyway...

As I reflected on the new year, I noticed that I've been reading more and more online and
K. East
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it
I've now read three books by this author. While I enjoy her characters and their development throughout each novel,each book ends not with a bang but a whimper. The characters seem very realistic as they meander through the trials in their lives, but they never really seem to arrive. Perhaps the books feel too much like real life, to me, and not enough like focused fiction. I'm not really sure what point, if any, the author had in mind to show when she started these novels. They feel more like c ...more
Saleh MoonWalker
This is the story of Avery James, the daughter of an artist (Isabel) who was deposited in a Foundling home at birth. Avery grows up painfully and constantly at a distance from those around her. The novel is set in Santa Fe and other small towns in New Mexico and what wonderful, beautiful locales they are! The book offers just the perfect amount of mysticism that fits the locales and the characters. Judi Hendricks has a wonderful ability to make you feel strongly about her characters and their ac ...more
Nov 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a facinating story but frustrating to me to some extent. Avery is her own worse enemy - always moving on rather than embracing closeness with others. It is a great book for a foody who is also interested in human emotions, every scene is sprinkled with great references to southwest cuisine and the herbs and spices of the American desert. I felt the author did a good job embroidering the story with complexity and contraditions as Avery tries to find out more about her illusive late mother ...more
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Judi Hendricks creates characters who crackle with life. I loved her previous book Bread Alone, and hoped this one would be as good.

Avery James is an orphan who was abandoned at a state run orphanage days before Christmas. All of her life she has struggled to fit in, and to keep herself from caring about anyone. Avery leaves Colorado and finds solace with some unusual women and eventually finds out that she is Isabel's daughter.

Hendricks paints vivid scenes of Santa Fe and the New Mexico landsc
J Kropa
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually like books about teenagers, but I found myself so captivated by this book that I read right through these years and found myself captivated. The author just drew me in, and I found it a hard book to put down. I liked the description of this area of the country, and discussions about where fabric art fits into the general scheme of the art world. I worried it could have been a depressing book about losses, but instead found it a book about surviving losses, even surviving the know ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
"your absence has gone through me like a thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color"-w.s.merwin and the opening line of the book- "the first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was a party in Santa Fe" --Together ,these two quotes tell the story. It grabbed me and kept me interested. That is all that you can ask of a book.
Becky Giovagnoni
Mar 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Good writing, but the plot is moderately depressing. And there is a distinct lack of closure in one major storyline which left me wishing for a more definitive ending.
Mar 02, 2009 added it
set in New Mexico, my second favorite place in all the world ... I posted an entry on my book blog

next I bought another of her books, Laws of Harmony
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Maybe even 4.5 stars!
Heather Bergeron
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started slowly but got better!
Apr 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: family-drama, fiction
(This review also appears on

I really enjoyed Kendrick's other novel `The Baker's Apprentice' and am pleased to report that `Isabel's Daughter' is also a satisfying read, though it didn't quite grab my attention in the same way. This is the sort of novel you can keep dipping in and out of- in fact I found I had to whilst reading as the novel became quite flat in places.

Told in flashbacks in parts, the novel concentrates on Avery James, a `foundling' who was abandoned by her mother i
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookcrossing
This book had one of the best opening lines I've run across: "The first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was at a party in Santa Fe." I must say that it, and the quote of W.S Merwin ("Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle, Everything I do is stitched with its color") perked up my interest, attention, and curiosity. The book was satisfying enough, soothing my soul after a spate of deep, psychologically chilling mysteries. Avery's search for hers ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was incredible for so many reasons but failed to finish well! I was so disappointed that we didn't get to complete the "circle" of Avery learning to love and be loved in a reciprocal relationship with Will. I'm glad to see her reunite in that way briefly with Rita while she was in the hospital and the implication is definitely there that she's hopeful about a future with Will but this poor girl has struggled and been alone and unloved and unable to receive love since birth. She's final ...more
Apr 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
I had not read Judi Hendricks' other books, although I had read a lot about them. I recently found this book and since it takes place in New Mexico I decided to read it. The author did not let me down in her sense of place. She describes many locations in New Mexico and makes the enchanting ambiance a part of the story. I have been in many of the galleries in Santa Fe and I could just feel that presence in the story.

The emotional tale centers around Avery James, named for the central Texas jewe
A captivating tale of a young woman searching for the mother she never knew and in the process learning more not only about her mother, now deceased, but more about herself. The book starts off great. The opening line will grab you. "The first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was at a party in Santa Fe."
The characters are real, the setting in New Mexico is very vivid. You really get a sense of the area.

Avery, who was raised in foster homes, not surprisingly doesn't a
Linda Day
Amazon had this at Five Stars, but I think 3.5 is closer to my thinking. Although I liked the book, I did not love it; I could lay it down; But found I was quickly engaged when I came back to it.

It is a story about a girl, orphaned at birth and left in the basement of a foundling home. Discovered "just in the nick of time", she grows there until she is orphaned again when her best friend runs away. Later the cook who has befriended her, dies, and this time Avery James has had enough ! She flees
Julie Dickerson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I purchased this book at a thrift shop for 50 cents. I had zero expectations going into it and knew very little about the plot, so it turned out to be quite a lovely surprise for me.

The story follows Avery James, who was abandoned by her mother ...left in a basement at 4 weeks old. We follow her into adulthood as she uncovers who she really is and grows into the life she was meant to live.

The characters are wonderfully developed...I felt like I knew them and I was genuinely interested in what h
May 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-2011
Avery is a determined, sometimes outspoken, and intelligent young woman. We first meet her when she is in her mid-twenties, working for a catering company. Out of the blue, she sees a portrait which can only be of her mother... whom she never met.

This starts Avery on a journey into the past, where she was brought up in a children's home before running away at thirteen. As she thinks about people in the past, and learns more about her mother and her various friends, she is gradually able to acce
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book. It was the first one I've read by this author and I do plan to read more. I do hope that the author will write a sequel to this book...perhaps about Isabel herself. My only complaint about this book is all the profanity in it. I get that Avery lived a hard life, but I think a truly great author can convey this without all the profanity. I'm a Christian and I read both Christian and non-Christian fiction. I sometimes get a little bored with Christian fiction, but at l ...more
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
An exceptionally engaging second novel by Judith Hendricks! I think we have a GREAT new up and coming authoress. I was lost in this story from beginning to end.

From back cover:

"The first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was at a party in Santa Fe.

After a childhood spent in an institution and a series of foster homes, Avery James has trained herself not to wonder about the mother who gave her up. But her safe, predictable life changes one night when she stumbles upon t
Jan 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
I read this book several years ago, in January 2004 and enjoyed it so much that I have now made it into a ring which is travelling around the world.

Feb 2009 Am now rereading it for possible use with a class. This is still a terrific book, although I don't think the young man in my class will appreciate it so much and it would be the third book with a female main character ...I would definitely do with this with another group at some point.

October 2014... Still haven't used it with a class, but
I bought this book for $1 at my local used book store a few years ago and finally picked it up to read. It was slow at first and I almost put it aside but about one quarter of the way through I was hooked. The main character, Avery seems a bit too angry at times and detached from most relationships. This is because she was given up by her birth mom, put in an orphanage and was picked on by classmates for most of her first 18 years. There were a few people who loved her unconditionally but she co ...more
Jul 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty good "light" book for the spring/early summer. During finals from school and traveling around after, it definitely kept my attention!
This book was also good about bringing my attention to how much culture the New Mexico area has, it was kinda undiscovered in my opinion.
Above ^ is what I originally wrote in my review and I only gave it 3 stars then, but
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Isabel's Daughter
1. Best 1st sentence
"The first time I saw my mother was the night she died. The second time was at a party in Santa Fe."

2. Best Setting
New Mexico. Mostly Santa Fe area, but other places in New Mexico, also.

I keep this book just to read when I need a soft read. The plot has a bit of "chick-lit" thing going, but oh my, the setting just makes me happy. New Mexico, and Santa Fe specifically, are so perfectly written.
I can't say I remember the actual plot, but I remember t
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Avery James was a foundling. Brought up in institutions and foster homes she leaves at the age of 13 to find her own way. At first she stumbles upon Cassie who teaches her about herbs and healing.

She eventually finds her way to Sante Fe where she is an assistant to a caterer. Working at a wealthy art dealer's party she comes upon a painting of a woman who is her mirror image. Avery has found her mother. What follows is a search. Her mother died in a tragic accident 8 years ago. Avery initially d
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Isabel's Daughter is the first of Judith R. Hendricks' books that I have had the pleasure of reading and it inspired to read all of them. I'm admitting a weakness - I bought this book based on wholly the title. My own child being named Isabel - well, you get my reasoning...

...and I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that the story takes place in my homeland - Northern New Mexico.

This was an easy read - much as I dislike these types of novels - only a few hours of leisurely reading, but I f
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avery's eyes 4 3 Aug 26, 2014 12:07PM  
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Judith Ryan Hendricks was born in San Jose, California, when Silicon Valley was the Santa Clara Valley, better known for orchards than for computer chips.
Armed with a degree in journalism, she worked as a journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress and baker before turning to fiction writing. Her experiences at the McGraw Street Bakery in Seattle led to her first novel, Br
More about Judi Hendricks...

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