Wednesday, January 23, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: THE ANGRY WOMAN SUITE by Lee Fullbright


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lee will be giving away a $100 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.



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.—Kirkus Reviews


This book is a powerful, multi-layered, multi-generational book. Dark, rich, and intriguing like a sauce you want to go back and savor again and again. Those of you who know me know that I'm not that reader that rereads many books-- Gone with the Wind, Tolkien, Austen, and Gabaldon-- but that's about it. This book may have made it onto that list. I know I'll go back and reread it at least once. Now that I've read the ending, I want to go back and see what I might have missed.

The book has three POV characters... Aidan, Francis, and Elyse. None blood-related, but all intimately intwined in the mystery that is The Angry Woman Suite.

It's similar to a Southern Gothic--family secrets build up and build up until the reader discovers the truth. I pride myself on normally figuring out mysteries, but this time--I have to admit that Lee Fullbright kept me guessing. Kudos to the author for an intriguing debut novel. I'm anxious to see what she's going to do next.

About the Author:
Lee Fullbright, a medical practice consultant in her non-writing life, lives on San Diego’s beautiful peninsula with her writing partner, Baby Rae, a 12-year-old rescued Australian cattle dog with attitude.

The Angry Woman Suite, a Kirkus Critics’ pick, 5-starred Readers Favorite, and a Discovery Aware winner, is her first published novel.

23 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Anas said...

It sounds like a book after my heart. What is your favorite character or narrator from the books?

moonsurfer123(at)gmail(dot)com

Gala said...

Very promising excerpt, now I want to know more...

galaschick78 at gmail dot com

Ingeborg said...

The book sounds very intriguing.

Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

Emiliana25 said...

I imagine a lot of research went into this, how long did it take to finish this novel?

emiliana25ATwebDOTde

one of us said...

Thank you SO much for hosting, Judy!

one of us said...

Hi Anas, I am technically challenged this morning, and can’t seem to get signed in as “Lee” (I am technically challenged a LOT of mornings), so I’ll sign off my replies with an “L” … as to who my favorite character is … well, I identify most with Elyse. I loved writing her parts of the story. Loved, loved, loved. Even when she was being a snot, I loved her, because I got her. The male narrators were harder for me, because I wanted them to be as authentic as possible, but as I’m not a member of their club, how to think/act like a guy when I’m so obviously not one? Well, I chased down all the guys I know and made them read the male parts (for authenticity, till eyes glazed over), and then, unbelievably, I ended up falling in love with Aidan, faults and all. He fascinates me. Good guy, bad guy? Or, like many of us, a little of both? As for the third narrator, Francis … hardest one to write. He broke my heart so many times.

one of us said...

Hi Emiliana, Yes, a lot of research was called for, and I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how long the project took, from start to finish, in-between regular life and work, and even putting the ms away for over a year at one point … um, but nearly eight years, from the first imagining of Elyse to the last page. L

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the release!

vitajex(at)aol(dot)com

Emiliana25 said...

Hi Lee, I'm impressed you haven't given up on the book, but with so much work it must be fabulous. I'll see if I manage to start reading the book untill tomorrow and come back with more specific questions :)

emiliana25ATwebDOTde

Lena said...

I like complex characters but I'm not sure Francis is someone I'm going to like.


lennascloud(at)gmail(dot)com

one of us said...

Hi again Emiliana ... or I could just be a very slow writer :) Thanks for your interest in the book ... hope to talk again! L

one of us said...

I know what you mean, Lena … sometimes many memorable characters, for me, have turned out to be the ones I can’t stop watching—er, reading about. There’s just something about them, even if it’s not likeability per se—first one to come to mind is Ralph Truitt in A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick—was anybody likeable in that one? That’s a good one for rereading.... Lee

Ami said...

I get a bit frustrated with switching POV's, you want to read about what happens to the one character and then there is a change of view, but I will give this one a chance, since it's only 3 persons.

shadowrunner1987 at gmail dot com

bn100 said...

Very nice review.

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

Catherine Lee said...

I used to read a lot of Southern Gothic and was a big fan of Flannery O'Connor. Now, I usually go for lighter, rom-com fare.
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Lyra L7 said...

I like rom coms but the more remember worthy books I tend up to read end up to be books like The angry woman suite.

lyra.lucky7 at gmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

Having the three POV will give a complete picture. I like that. It's always rather special to find a treasure you want to re-read.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

MomJane said...

I really enjoyed the review. I am not certain i will like all.the charactors however.

Chelsea B. said...

This book sounds about 12 different kinds of awesome. I am looking forward to it!

justforswag(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

Karen H in NC said...

Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day!

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Emily said...

Thanks for the review, this sounds like a very intriguing book and I think I'll have to add it to my TBR.

tiger-chick-1(at)hotmail(dot)com

Lana A said...

Fantastic excerpt, thank you for sharing!

anzuazura AT yahoo DOT de