| || Sugar Cage (1992)|
From Library Journal
This first novel explores the stickily enduring bonds of love. Nine characters speak in alternating chapters: a reluctant psychic; a selfish, philandering husband; a sensitive, eccentric one; a finicky undertaker; a young soldier; an unhappy little girl; a Haitian migrant; and two widows, one merry, one grief stricken. This unlikely cast inhabits a narrative spanning 30 years. Some, like Soleil Marie, a sugarcane laborer, or Inez, who can't avoid seeing the future, speak with startling vividness. Others, like the child Luella, are less convincing. All are trapped behind the sweetly poisoned bars of the "sugar cage"--a "sign" in the dregs of one character's glass. Inez spots it: "bars glistening like white sand," a sure sign "she was going to let love eat her up." Runaway emotions devour some, others struggle to both love and survive. A Southern gothic tale, magically imaginative, yet harshly real. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/91.
- Lenore Hart, Machipongo, Va.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || River of Hidden Dreams (1994)|
From Library Journal
Sadie Hunter earns her modest living taking tourists on boat trips around Key West. If she is in the mood, she will entertain them with fascinating stories learned from her mother and grandmother, who both perished in a storm when Sadie was a child. Over the course of many trips, she spins the romantic tale of her Plains Indian grandmother's doomed love for her grandfather, a mulatto in St. Augustine, and her eventual return to him late in life. Although Sadie's stories sing with passion and intrigue, Sadie herself, at 42, seems like an annoying, self-centered adolescent, endlessly trying to understand why she can't commit to her Cuban boyfriend. Read Fowler's ( Sugar Cage , LJ 10/15/91) novel for its lovely, graceful tales of a South now vanished, full of magic, charms, and folklore. Recommended for most collections.
- Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || Before Women Had Wings (1996)|
From Publishers Weekly
A nine-year-old narrator whose voice is heavy with sorrow, but who learns truths about the heart, is the focus of Fowler's deeply moving, triumphant third novel. The reader, too, learns lessons about a child's love for her parents, even when that child is the helpless victim of their physical and emotional abuse. Avocet Jackson, called Bird, lives with her parents, Billy and Glory Marie, and her older sister, Phoebe, in a roach-infested Florida shack. When Billy, a frustrated country music singer who has squandered his talent in booze, commits suicide, a desperate Glory Marie takes the girls to the outskirts of Tampa, where they move into a dilapidated trailer. Terrorized by her mother's alcohol-fueled rages, Bird is further confused by the fire-and-brimstone strictures of the Bible, which she takes literally. She feels that Jesus and the devil are battling for control over her life, and when her mother becomes more violent and calls her "a fat, lazy, lying sack of shit," she concludes that Jesus has spurned her. Fowler brilliantly conveys a child's bewilderment when the sources that should provide succor?parents and religion?instead inspire fear. Her depictions of physical violence?Glory Marie's beating at the hands of a man hired by her jealous husband, or her own brutal attacks on Bird and Phoebe?spare no harrowing details. Fowler sweeps the narrative along with plangent, lyrical prose. Mixing the squalid details of Bird's life with the child's magical dreams of hope and healing, she has fulfilled the promise of her highly praised debut, Sugar Cage, and established herself as a writer of formidable talent.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || Remembering Blue (2000)|
From Publishers Weekly
When starry-eyed Matilda Fiona O'Roarke (Mattie) meets burly, romantic Proteus Nicholas Blue (Nick), she's a clerk at a Tallahassee convenience store and he's working for a logging firm. He tells her he comes from a long line of rugged Greek-American fishermen who believe they're descended from dolphins and, as such, are destined to die at sea. Nick hopes to thwart fate, but when a fellow logger is killed on the job, Nick realizes that land is just as dangerous as water and returns with Mattie to his home on Lethe, the Florida coastal island his forebears settled. Initially, Mattie finds the extroverted Blue clan overwhelming, but her shyness disappears when Nick's widowed mother takes her under her wing. Soon Mattie is a fishmonger like Nick, and she learns more about the Blue family's heritage and their belief in mythANick is named for Poseidon's son, and the island recalls the mythological river of forgetfulness. Domestic traumas unfold, with Nick's black-sheep brother, Zeke, abandoning his teenage son to Mattie's care, while another brother, Demetrius, struggles with his infant son after his wife's desertion. Nick is strong and sensitive, a loving husband to Mattie, a man who cries when she reads him Hemingway and who saves the lives of stranded baby turtles and butterflies. Mattie is haunted by her own sad history of paternal abandonment and maternal neglect. She tries hard to be perfect, tending house, earning an accounting degree, harvesting vegetables and culling shrimp. When the inevitable Blue curse claims Nick, newly pregnant Mattie remains with the family she has come to love. Though much of the narrative is awash in nostalgia, and the allusions to Greek mythology are forced, Fowler writes lyrically of the Florida coast. The love story carries strong appeal, and Fowler's tender portrayal of Nick and Mattie's idyllic relationship will please romantics everywhere. BOMC selection; national author tour. (Feb.) FYI: Fowler's previous novel, Before Women Had Wings, was made into an Oprah Winfrey Presents TV movie and won the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || When Katie Wakes: A Memoir (2002)|
Connie May Fowler is known to the world as the author of bestselling novels and powerful essays—but no one knew that for years she was the victim of brutal abuse and relentless humiliation. Now in this harrowing, spellbinding memoir, Fowler finally tells her own story.
The daughter and grand-daughter of battered women, Fowler found herself irresistibly drawn to a man who was bent on destroying her, physically and emotionally. Despite her youth, spirit, education, and wonderful talent, she was trapped in a cycle of violence and despair with no way out. Until the day she adopted an incredible puppy she named Kateland.
With stunning candor, Connie May Fowler reveals how the unconditional love and loyalty of this dog helped her turn the corner, find a safe place, and reclaim her own life. A work of extraordinary passion and courage, When Katie Wakes holds out hope and inspiration to anyone who has ever dreamed of starting over.
| || The Problem with Murmur Lee (2005)|
From Publishers Weekly
This elegiac novel, chronicling the life and death of idiosyncratic Murmur Lee Harp, showcases Fowler's easy, loose-limbed prose and sympathetic eye for human fallibility. Murmur Lee, 35, owns a popular local rundown bar in a North Florida backwater called Iris Haven and is skilled in the use of potions and spells. After her only child dies and her husband runs away, she finally finds the man she thinks may be the love of her life, then mysteriously drowns in a local river. Fowler (Before Women Had Wings) beautifully crafts the story of this woman's life through the eyes of her motley bunch of friends and through the spirit of Murmur Lee as she looks back at her past life. After Murmur Lee's death, Charleston Rowena Mudd, Murmur's childhood friend and a "Self Loathing Southerner," finds herself back home in Iris Haven, having dropped out of Harvard Divinity School. Also in town is Billy Speare, Murmur's last love, a writer who believes he's on the verge of bestsellerdom; Lucinda Smith, an angry, chain-smoking yoga teacher; Dr. Zachary Klein, who's mourning his wife, dead of breast cancer; and former marine turned transsexual Edith Piaf, mesmerized by the singer of the same name. Somehow, Fowler makes the disparate viewpoints and characters work, and the singular life of Murmur Lee Harp engagingly unfolds, as does the mystery behind her early death.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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