by Lee Fullbright
Publisher: Telemachus Press
Publication date: March 10, 2012
Genre: Adult Fiction
Purchase: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
When overbearing former big band star Francis Grayson mentions the “murdering bitches” who supposedly ruined his life, his resentful stepdaughter Elyse—always on the lookout for simple dirt on Francis—takes note. Intertwining narrative with Francis, Elyse stumbles across glimmers of big murder instead of simple dirt, while Francis moves perspective of his “bitches” back to the 1930s, to his childhood in Pennsylvania. His coming-of-age story centers on a mysterious painting and search for the artist who he believes can fix his feuding family. Aiding him in his quest is his mother’s lover, Aidan Madsen, who not only mentors Francis’ big band music career, but knows everything about two murders implicating the women in Francis’ family. The three narrators of The Angry Woman Suite—Elyse, Francis, and Aidan—weave together a picture of two disturbed families who meet their match in the young, determined to survive Elyse Grayson, and human to a fault hero, Aidan Madsen. (back cover)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.
I recommend The Angry Woman Suite to fans of novels about families spanning generations. Those who like realistic, historical mysteries, dark secrets and character driven novels should enjoy this one. I enjoyed this novel and the characters within its pages. This novel was awarded the 2012 Discovery Award and received first place for Literary Fiction.
I want to thank the author for providing a finished copy in exchange for my unbiased review. Purchases made thorough buy links on this site earn a small commission and help support giveaways.
I gave this novel 3.5 coffee cups out of 5.