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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Family Ties

Behind Closed Doors
Susan R. Sloan

Warner Books, 2004

Raised in a large, loving Irish Catholic family, Valerie O'Connor is a sheltered and innocent young woman who comes of age in the 1950s. She falls head over heels in love at age 18 with Jack Marsh, a dashing veteran of the Air Force and marries him despite her father’s misgivings. Their marriage is doomed from the start, yet they stay married for more than 30 years.

Valerie learns rather quickly that her husband drinks too much and loses control of his emotions, thereby losing control of his actions. At first she thinks his rages are isolated incidents due to the stress of his job, or their marriage, or then, the babies. Valerie is Roman Catholic and wants as many children as possible. As each baby comes, though, Jack becomes more abusive – first towards her, and then towards the children. Valerie and the children attempt to cope with Jack’s volatile temper over the years until finally all the children grow up and move away, and Valerie and her youngest son are the only ones left to deal with the effects of a solitary and isolated existence.

By now you may be asking yourselves if I am drawn to sad and depressing books. The answer is no. I am drawn to books that have received good reviews from my friends or published sources. I can’t remember where I heard about this book, but it doesn’t matter because it deserves the praise despite the depressing bits. The characters are vivid and realistic; the plot moves at a pretty fast clip; the story is interesting and unpredictable. All in all, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others who like family dramas with psychological undertones. It’s not suspenseful or spectacular, but it will keep your interest rewarded with a well-deserved twist at the end.


Other books by this author:
Act of God, 2002

Other titles you may enjoy:

Sisters by Prue Leith, 2002
Two sisters share a terrible secret about a horrible accident that could ruin their lives in this novel of sibling rivalry, love, and betrayal.

Hidden by Paul Jaskunas, 2004
Six years after being assaulted, Maggie Wilson, having learned that her abusive ex-husband has been exonerated of the crime, wonders about a born-again convict who claims to be her attacker and struggles to reclaim missing pieces of her memory.

A Taste of Reality by Kimberla Lawson Roby, 2003
As her seemingly perfect life begins to crumble around her, both at home and at work, putting her job and marriage on the line, Anise is forced to muster all of her courage and faith to triumph over adversity and realize her dreams.

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