A Review of Lee Fullbright’s The Angry Woman Suite

The Misfortune Of Knowing

Lee Fullbright’sThe Angry Woman Suite is a heartbreaking tale of historical fiction spanning six decades.  There are three storytellers:  Elyse, Aidan, and Francis, each offering a different perspective of a murder and its effect on one family over three generations.  There are many seemingly evil women, bordering on stereotypes at times. The real lesson, though, is that people are complicated, not all bad or all good, though perhaps more one than the other.  It’s worth reading.

I found many aspects of Fullbright’s novel intriguing, including her portrayal of the public perception of divorce, marriage, and disabilities and the cyclical nature of child abuse.  Diana Grayson declares in 1955, “divorce is unacceptable,” telling her daughter to stop talking about her “real daddy,” who had passed away, because “where we’re going, people might [mistakenly] think I’ve been divorced.”  Fear of divorce and/or marriage motivate several characters to remain in unhappy, unhealthy unions or…

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IndieReader feature: The Angry Woman Suite

All About the Book | IR Staff
Lee Fullbright on “The Angry Woman Suite”

An unsolved celebrity double murder in the early 1900’s, and the fallout on three generations of one fragile family, as told by three very different narrators: a young girl in search of autonomy; a young man in search of an identity, and an older man in search of justice.  Read On »

Lee Fullbright on “The Angry Woman Suite”

All About the Book, Homepage Sub  •  IR Staff  •  Oct 16, 2012

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What is the title of the book and when was it published?

The Angry Woman Suite was published March 10, 2012.

What’s the book’s first line?

“It is said that love is comfort, and that comfort comes from recognition of the beloved.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch.”

The elevator pitch is it’s about an unsolved celebrity double murder in Pennsylvania, in the early 1900’s, and the fallout on three generations of one fragile family, as told by three very different narrators: a young girl in search of autonomy; a young man in search of an identity, and an older man in search of justice.

What inspired you to write the book?

The autonomy slant was the inspiration. I was visiting Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, site of a Revolutionary War battle, exploring George Washington’s headquarters and the battleground. It was a warm, quiet day, and I considered how different it must’ve been the day of the battle; the noise and bloodshed—and that’s when it hit me: the idea of another story about a battle for freedom, but within family. I even knew, on that day, that my lead narrator would be a woman looking back on her life, and that I would include the Battle of Brandywine as background and as a metaphor for a story about family.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?

There are three narrators and they pretty much share equal billing. But the character who starts off the book, Elyse Grayson, is the novel’s glue—and she’s an understated rebel. As for who she reminds me of, she looks like a girl on my street, but other than appearance, Elyse is, for me, an original.

What’s the main reason someone would read this book?

The Angry Woman Suite can be an immersion and an adventure; a book to get lost in. And I think that’s why many of us read novels. To become lost and then found again.

The Angry Woman Suite Kirkus Review

 

Fullbright, Lee

Kirkus Review September, 2011

THE ANGRY WOMAN SUITE

Secrets and lies suffuse generations of one Pennsylvania family, creating a vicious cycle of cruelty in this historical novel that spans the early 1900s to the 1960s.

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.

 A superb debut that exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy’s sometimes excruciating embrace.

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