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1. Unfinished Desires: A Novel (Random
2. Evenings at Five: A Novel and
3. Mother and Two Daughters
4. Violet Clay: A Novel
5. A Southern Family
6. Evensong (Ballantine Reader's
7. The Making of a Writer: Journals,
8. The Finishing School (Ballantine
9. Queen of the Underworld: A Novel
10. Father Melancholy's Daughter
11. Heart : A Personal Journey Through
12. Glass People
13. Dream Children: Stories
14. The Good Husband (Ballantine Reader's
15. Heart: A Natural History of the
16. Gail Godwin (Twayne's United States
17. The Odd Woman: A Novel
18. The Evolving Self in the Novels
19. Escaping the Castle of Patriarchy:
20. Sawdust and Incense: World's That

1. Unfinished Desires: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 432 Pages (2010-07-27)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.67
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345483219
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.

It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel’s, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls’ young teacher and the school’s matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.

Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.  

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (59)

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting characters, scattered plot
Gail Godwin is certainly one of the queens of character development. She takes you deep into the minds and motivations of the people in a way few authors even attempt. In Unfinished Desires, Godwin is especially skillful in her presentation of the unlikeable characters who drive the events. Some of them you start out liking but end up hating after you compare their public persona with their real selves.
Having also read Father Melancholy's Daughter, I'd say this is Godwin's greatest strength as an author. She understands our psychological frailty as humans and the way we constantly replay past experiences in our minds, re-framing them to suit what we need to believe.

On to the story itself. It involves events in many different time frames, all centering on a Catholic boarding school for girls in North Carolina. So there are the nunsies, the girls in their various stages of adolescent awkwardness, and the townspeople who don't trust Catholicism but respect the school. In a nutshell: Teenage girls digging up dirt about youthful indiscretions of the nuns, and nuns trying to suppress information to maintain their pristine image.

There were certainly things I liked about the story. But overall impression? Scrambled eggs. Godwin was trying to tell too many people's stories, many of which were not essential to the primary plot. All the skipping around in time frames and points of view was distracting and made the whole thing feel rather muddy. I don't mind going back and forth in time, but there were too many minor threads to follow.

I am not a Catholic, nor even the slightest bit religious. So no doubt a lot of the subtleties went right past me. If you're a Catholic or a boarding school attendee, you'll probably relate to more of the story and find yourself alternately chuckling and cringing in recognition. I'd say it's definitely a book for a niche market.

5-0 out of 5 stars STIMULATING!
"Mother Mallory was vexed by the clumsiness that had come over her even as she descended the stairs of the train, taking caution with her long skirts when a nun wearing aviator sunglasses shot forward to claim her. Mother Ravenel was vigorous and handsome with a high coloured face and fine white teeth."

Gail Godwin's books are so wonderfully written and especially this one would make a great gift for any occasion.Stimulating and wrapped in mystery and wonder, the characters are so wonderfully and genuinely produced; like people we have already met. This book brings out the compassion in our hearts and causes us to empathize with these wonderful people.Well written, it held my attention until the last page and not to add any spoilers, I write highly recommending this great book.Hope there will be lots more to come.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Neghadar (Sugar-Cane- August 21st, 2010)

4-0 out of 5 stars intriguing character study
In 2001, Mother Suzanne Ravenel begins taping her memories of fifty plus years of teaching at Mount Saint Gabriel's School in Mountain City, North Carolina.Looking back at her time in Appalachian Mountains school, she has fond memories of some classes like that of '74 and the 1930s when she attended the school as a student.

However, the class that sticks out in her head was the most horrific, 1951-52.The year of toxicity started with the arrival of ninth-grader Chloe Starnes, who was grieving her mother who had just died.Young Mother Malloy was assigned to the freshman class.Chloe's cousin Tildy Stratton becomes her BFF.However, she is uninformed as to her manipulative cousin picking up her mom Cordelia's vendetta against Mother Suzanne.

This is an intriguing character study that uses the memories of Mother Suzanne to tell the story of feuding people.The engine that drives the story line is Cordelia rather than Mother Suzanne; which adds to the depth the audience sees of the prime cast; years after the two key events that shaped their animosity occurred.Although too many tertiary players crowd the stage at times, Gail Godwin provides an interesting drama.

Harriet Klausner

5-0 out of 5 stars Just a plain old great read.
An interesting story, populated with well developed characters whose actions make sense, which culminates in a satisfying conclusion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Catholic to Catholic
Excellent book- good story- well written!Unusually gentle treatment of the Catholic Church in this day and age. ... Read more

2. Evenings at Five: A Novel and Five New Stories (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 320 Pages (2004-03-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$0.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345461037
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Every evening at five o’clock, Christina and Rudy began the ritual commonly known as Happy Hour, sharing drinks along with a love of language and music (she is an author, he a composer, after all), a delight in intense conversation, a fascination with popes, and nearly thirty years of life together. Now, seven months after Rudy’s unexpected death, Christina reflects on their vibrant bond—with all its quirks, habits, and unguarded moments—as well as her passionate sorrow and her attempts to reposition herself and her new place in the very real world they shared. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful and beautifully written little gem
I can't say more than the previous reviews have said.This is one of those books that I would force myself to lay aside for a little while just so I wouldn't finish it too quickly.In the hands of numerous other writers, it would have come across as sentimental glop, but this was obviously the story of a woman who has lost her soul partner, lover and friend and there is nothing sentimental about it - just true.

I DO think someone should sue The Library Journal - on this page and several other places I have looked for this book to buy, I have seen their blurb:"Now that her composer husband is dead, Christina dreads "evenings at five"-the hour that the couple set aside for heart-to-hearts." and it really irritates me.It give no indication of the beauty of this book..."dreads"?"heart-to-hearts"?This isn't what I came away with...

An author and a composer have a daily ritual.Every evening at five o'clock, they begin with Happy Hour; they then share their love of language and music along with their cocktails.This tradition is so much a part of their lives that it's only natural that its absence would leave a huge hole in the author's heart when her companion dies.

Author Gail Godwin had similar experiences, and has commemorated these traditions and moments by fictionalizing an account, which she has added to a series of additional short stories about her alter-ego Christina.

In these stories, we meet Christina at various crossroads in her life, and woven in with these "flashback" type portrayals are more moments between "Christina and Rudy."

A provocative read, Evenings at Five: A Novel and Five New Stories (Ballantine Reader's Circle) is a reminder that we must cherish our moments with our loved ones, because when they are gone, the memories of those moments could sustain us.

I deducted one star, as sometimes the story's back and forth movements was confusing, and I had to stop a moment to figure out where the characters were--the past or the present.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sweeping Up The Heart
Gail Godwin's thin EVENINGS AT FIVE is a fictionalized tribute to her companion of thirty years, composer Robert Starer who died in 2001. The characters are Christina, a writer of fiction, a "cradle Episcopalian"; Rudy, who is Jewish, a composer, a polyglot, and tad arrogant; and Bud, whom this most gifted writer describes in one point in the narrative as a "neatly folded cat." Every evening-- hence the title-- at five sharp ("punctuality is the courtesy of kings") the couple-- she on the black leather sofa that the Siamese cats had destroyed and he in his Stickley chair-- had drinks and discussed how their respective days had gone. Seven months after his unexpected death-- even though Rudy was ill, they both believed they had more time together-- Christina is trying to put the pieces of her life back together as she answers letters of condolence, attends church, leans on friends, in short, the things that grieving persons do to get them through the period that Emily Dickinson described as that "awful leisure."

To say that Ms. Godwin writes about something universal is trite beyond words since all of us at some point will, again in Ms. Dickinson's beautifully sad words, be "sweeping up the heart." We expect someone of Godwin's talent to write eloquently about the loss of a companion, a subject that so many authors of her generation have written about recently: Calvin Trillin (ABOUT ALICE), John Bayley (ELEGY FOR IRIS) and Joan Didion (THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING). Then there are writers like Mark Doty (HEAVEN'S COAST) who did not have the luxury of even as long a time together as Ms. Godwin and Mr. Starer had since Doty lost his lover to AIDS before the advent of the new life-sustaining drugs.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deeply profound.
I can't say much more about this book. This book is probably way over my head but the point of the story touches me deeply. I mean we all have to face our loved ones leaving this world without us and to be with someone for many years and then to have that empty space is a bit harsh.

However Christina does, it just takes time. She goes over everything she can remember and I think she is feels a bit guilty about leaving him on the night he went, but perhaps it was better this way. I am not sure what way I would want it.

Great book, great author. Have plans to check out her other books. But pick up this book! It is a quick read, but really means a whole lot.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beatiful Tribue to Love
Gail Godwin, one of my all-time favorite authors, lost her long-time companion, composer Robert Starer, before writing this book as a tribute to him and their relationship. It is, in a word: Perfect.

For anyone who has ever felt unbearable grief, or for anyone who has felt the same measure of real love, this book is a tribute to the best of the human spirit. I was lucky enough to have listened to the Audio version, which is read by the author herself, and her lightly southern-tinged pleasant voice adds a measure of poignancy she may or may not have intended.

The fictional characters, Rudi and Christine, an author and a composer, live a life rich in every way, from their afternoon cocktail hour (preceded by a phone call from "Cope Paul," Rudi's fictional pontiff who urges them to have a drink) to their wide and wonderful collection of shared jokes, memories, people and most of all words...rich tapestries of words. Rudi is multi-lingual, and Christine is her willing foil.

It sounds like it was the perfect relationship we all want and need, and its loss it made all the more so by the way Christine's reaction to her unspeakable loss.

A truly beautiful book; I only wish I had seen the drawings that accompany the text, and will make sure I buy the book as well as the recording. ... Read more

3. Mother and Two Daughters
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 544 Pages (1994-08-09)
list price: US$27.00 -- used & new: US$7.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345389239
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
"A big, entertaining novel...Rich in character and place and humanity...Gail Godwin is a wonderful writer."
At the death of Leonard Strickland, beloved Southern gentleman, husband and father, his family is faced with the unknown. Nell always relied on the husband of her youth for security and friendship. Fiercely independent Cate and perfect Lydia have spent their lives vying for the love and approval their father generously gave. And as each woman begins to view her life, her past, and the possibilities of the future with new eyes, each belatedly discovers that life and death are impossible to plan, and that the past that has kept them apart can bring them closer to themselves and one another....
... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A national bestseller in 1983
A truly wonderful book, with realand rich characters. A Southern widow who is a good decent woman faces the daily ritual of Southern genteel life, but is challenged by the rivalry of her two daughters Cate and Lydia. Full of the flavor of Southern life and customs, and lush detail. You will be drawn into the story and will wish the story kept on going when it ends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth the read
A Southern writer, Godwin captures the family life of the titular characters after the father dies. The women are all very different, but this touching book shows how family is important and how being independent isn't a bad thing. After the father's death, each character examines her life and future. I found it very real and interesting. Though the epilogue was a bit blah.

4-0 out of 5 stars mother and two daughters

Mother and Two Daughters - After the death of their father, Cate, a woman with a crusading streak, and
and her more conventional sister Lydia must learn to come to terms with their differences. The three main characters: Cate, newly divorced Lydia, and their mother Nell are well-drawn and three dimensional. While Cate deals with the possible loss of her teaching job and a new boyfriend, Lydia faces life as a single woman; she goes back to college and gets a job.Well written and intriguing, though the last chapter felt too calculated.

3-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat interesting, but I don't miss the characters.
I read a review before I read the book.The reviewer claimed to actually miss the characters after reading the book.I enjoyed the book, that is, I finished it.But I don't think the characters were so complex--I thought they were predictable (and somewhat obnoxious).I also found the "wrapping up" of issues boring and over calculated at the end.This is my first Gail Godwin book, so I might try another.If it is the same, I probably won't read another.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
I don't understand the 1 star either.This is one of my favorite books of all time.You come to really care about the characters.The mother 'not true to herself'?I don't understand that at all.Self-sacrificing maybe .... in a way many mothers are.All in all, I've got nothing but good things to say. ... Read more

4. Violet Clay: A Novel
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-11-29)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 034538993X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Violet Clay had come to New York City from Charleston to take the art world by storm. But nine years, many affairs, and thousands of drinks later, the reality of her shadow life is made clear when she is fired from her job as a freelance illustrator. That same day, she hears that her beloved Uncle Ambrose, an unsuccessful writer, has shot himself.

As Violet collects the shattered pieces of her uncle's life, she is forced to face herself and her own tattered dreams. And what she discovers is that she has just been going through the motions of living. She's not even sure she can do anything else. But she's in her mid-thirties and knows she still has time to try again. If she succeeds, she will have broken from her family of dreamers forever and can deservedly claim both the rich rewards and frustrating adversities of the artist's life.... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Interior World of an Artist
The story of a young artist's coming of age, Violet Clay explores a woman's efforts to come to terms with a life that has turned out quite differently from her expectations. Violet Clay, orphaned as a small child, shuffled through boarding schools, finds her adult self with only one family member to speak of, her uncle Ambrose, a troubled writer. Ambrose has never managed to finish his second book, and Violet has failed to become an artist of note. A move to New York brings Violet little success. Eight years after her move she finds herself stagnating at art, life, and love. When Ambrose commits suicide, Violet takes the opportunity to move to her uncle's remote upstate cabin to try and reinvent her life. Godwin does an excellent job of creating complex worlds around her characters, and Violet Clay is no exception. Violet's history and psyche are richly drawn, and Godwin deftly recreates Charleston, New York City, and upstate New York. I did find some of Violet's relationships to be somewhat tiresome. Indeed, Violet herself is tiresome, the poster child for a navel-gazing artist's personality. Still, this is an intruiging book: more interesting than the story of an artist trying to figure herself out might seem. ... Read more

5. A Southern Family
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 544 Pages (1997-05-01)
list price: US$15.99 -- used & new: US$2.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380729873
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The novels of Gail Godwin are contemporary classics -- evocative, powerfully affecting, beautifully crafted fiction alive with endearing, unforgettable characters. Her critically acclaimed work has placed her among the ranks of Eudora Welty, Pat Conroy, and Carson McCullers, firmly establishing Godwin as a Southern literary novelist for the ages.

In A Southern Famiy, the celebrated author of A Mother and Two Daughters, The Finishing School, and Father Melancholy's Daughter once again explores the shattering dynamics of parents' relationships with their children and themselves. It is the story of the Quick family and the reunion that leads to tragedy -- a masterful tale of anger and pain, of love and hatred, and of the understanding that ultimately heals.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Navigating the Seas of This Family is a Definite Shipwreck
Claire, a middle-aged author, living in New York, returns to her home in the south, and attempts to come to terms with her brother's suicide and her alienation from her family.She both loves and hates them and can not extricate herself from the emotional turmoil that each visit brings.

The novel centers on her brother, Theo, who commits suicide. There is also Theo's ex-wife, Snow, a mountain hill-billy woman who sues Theo's parents for custody of her son, Jason.Lily Quick is an aging southern belle who must maintain a decorum of inner sanctity despite any emotional upheavals in her life, including a destroyed marriage.Ralph Quick, an outsider to himself and unable to relate to his wife, Lily, because of the guilt he has carried with him from an early love affair is well characterized.Claire tries to understand her family's patterns of circuitous communications and how they mislead one another, acting like characters in a play that they themselves are authoring.

"Oh what a charade.Each of them piling up points against the other - - for whose benefit?And yet, since they've become their own audience, for the most part, the game's ante seems to have risen.Wounding retorts are sharpened, their stings savored in advance.Each has become so cunningly vigilant, lying in wait forthe other to 'act in character'.Knowing someone all too well, without affection or charity, can be a vicious weapon". (P. 446)

As Claire tries to navigate the stormy seas of her family, it sometimes appears to be a recipe for a shipwreck.I am a fan of Gail Godwin and also recommend her other novels, The Finishing School (Ballantine Reader's Circle) and Violet Clay: A Novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth in words
Where has this book been hiding? I had the great fortune of finding it in a used bookstore and could not put it down. The prose is beautiful, characters seem real (all of them!), and the theme makes one think. Not your typical brain fluff kind of book - read this one to get in touch with feelings, exercise your mental skills, and enjoy reading. Highly recommend! I will be on the lookout for more by this author.

1-0 out of 5 stars Can't Keep Reading!
I'm sorry to say I just can't get into this book.I try toread at least 100 pages but nothing so far has sparked me to go even that far.It is very slow going and I just can't get interested in any of the characters.

4-0 out of 5 stars southern intrigue
When black sheep Theo Shaw is found shot to death, along with his girlfriend, the only survivor,his young son, his already quirky family is thrown into turmoil. Told from multiple perspectives, including the deceased's former girlfriend, his writer sister, his mother and his golden-boy guilt-stricken brother, A Southern Family is an intriguing meditation on family ties, present and those that exist from beyond the grave.

4-0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary writer
Not for those looking for a suspenseful thriller, Gail Godwin is one of our best modern day writers, who is interested in character driven novels as opposed to those focusing on plot.Here, Clare, Ralph, Lily, Theo, Snow and others are feeling and thinking human beings who have positive and negative traits -- in other words, they are real people, living through a tragic and uncertain event.Even though the book is rather long, I did not want to leave these people, even in their grief.

If you enjoyed this book, I would also recommend Stuart O'Nan's "Wish You Were Here," as well as three Susan Howatch books: "Wheel of Fortune," The Rich are Different," and "Sins of the Fathers," which are all excellent examples of rotating the first person in each chapter (as is done here). ... Read more

6. Evensong (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 432 Pages (2000-02-29)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345434773
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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To read Gail Godwin is to touch the very core of human experience. With inimitable grace and aching emotional precision, Godwin probes our own complexities in characters whose lives oscillate between success and struggle, stoic resolve and quixotic temptation, bitter disappointment and small, sacred joys. Now with Evensong, she again translates our everyday existence into soul-touching truths as she brings to brilliantly realized life the people of a small Smoky Mountain town--and a woman whose world is indelibly altered by them.Amazon.com Review
In the tight-knit Smoky Mountain town of High Balsam, several weeks beforethe new millennium,Margaret Bonner finds herself pondering the notion ofmarriage. "I was mystified anew by this whole thing we humans do when wetake it into our heads to love one particular person," she muses. At 33,she is the first woman pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church, and herhusband, Adrian, is the headmaster of a progressive high school. TheBonners are in a marital slump--Adrian's self-loathing exasperates hisyounger, more passionate wife and she can't resist imagining what lifewould be like without him. Yet as the end of the century approaches, theyare forced to turn their attention outward and respond to the escalatingneeds of their North Carolina community. The appearance of three colorfulmisfits brings matters to a head. Grace Munger, an aggressivefundamentalist Christian, is on a crusade to organize a "MillenniumBirthday March for Jesus"; Brother Tony, a chatty 80-year-old itinerantwho's taken up the life of a Benedictine monk, has a particular interest inAdrian; and Chase, a 16-year-old delinquent, harbors a thirst for liquor,with calamitous consequences. In her sequel to FatherMelancholy's Daughter,Gail Godwin expertly traces the contours offaith, compassion, and loyalty in an isolated community on the brink ofchange. --Rebecca Robinson ... Read more

Customer Reviews (42)

3-0 out of 5 stars Pleased, but not thrilled
I loved Father Melancholy's Daughter (the first Gail Godwin book I had ever read) and wanted more of the story--more of Margaret.I was thus excited to discover that Evensong was a sequel to Father Melancholy's Daughter, but in the end I found Evensong a bit of a disappointment. First and foremost, Margaret is not as appealing in this book.In Evensong she is too smug, too sure of herself.She never misspeaks a word, always knows exactly what to say and what to do. The image I had was of her walking through her life in her priestly garments, her hands clasped passively in front of her, giving a comment here, giving a blessing there. Another frustration--Adrian is sick almost throughout the entire novel and doesn't turn out to be a very enjoyable character (although the description of his childhood and early adulthood are fascinating).I found myself missing Ben's sharp mind and energy.I liked the characters who were introduced--Grace, Chase, Tony, Jennifer (Gus,unfortunately, was portrayed a little falsely--she and her relationship with Jennifer were too perfect), but only Tony was developed fully.Chase in particular is just a shadow of a character.I loved the portrayal of when Chase and Adrian meet and thought that the storyline with Chase would go somewhere, but it really didn't.Perhaps, as other viewers have alluded to, if Godwin would have taken only one or two themes and really developed the plot around those ideas and characters, this would have been a more complete novel.As it is, the reader is given nibbles of too many characters and their issues and is left with simply a taste rather than a rich, satisfying meal.

4-0 out of 5 stars Evenly paced
Evensong is a very quiet, almost passive book with a strong dose of dignity thrown in. The story revolves around a married Episcopalian clergy couple and the inner workings of their Parish and by extension their New England town. The pace is very slow and it's tone steady and sure and the book definitely knows where it is going so even when you begin to get sort of bored, stick it out. The major themes are: religion, love, family and friendship and it is a well rounded book. My only quip against this book is that as with any non-Catholic Christian novel, there is the customary jibe at Catholicism. I still recommend it.

2-0 out of 5 stars To Be Tasted
Finishing this book without being patted on the back for my achievement was a bit anticlimactic. I wanted to give up SO many times, and the fact that I actually made it all the way through (ok, with some ~serious~ skimming near the end, I confess) deserves some kind of recognition! How did I do it? When exactly did I start caring about the characters in the book? Did I ever really care at all? Not easy questions to answer, and not a particularly easy review for me to do tonight.

The book is about two priests - or pastors, or rectors, I'm still not sure - they are husband and wife. They are Episcopalian, I got that much. There was a lot of discussion of things I need to look up in order to properly understand: the Advent, the Eucharist, and many more such capitalized Episcopalian rites. I mean no disrespect, in fact, I was quite intrigued. As a convert to my religion, I appreciate how unusual religious observances can appear to the un(religiously)educated eye. Anyway, the wife is in charge of a congregation high in the mountains of North Carolina, the husband is the chaplain and acting headmaster at the town's alternative boarding school for wayward youth. He is about 20 years older than her and suffers from terrible bouts of depression. They are both orphans - he since being abandoned as a child, she since the death of her mother when she was 6 and her father when she was in her 20's. They are at best both damaged property.

There are some odd elements sprinkled into this book, which is largely a quiet, slow, microscopic evaluation of their religious training and beliefs, as well as their lives together. First, the book takes place at the close of 1999, and a major plot point is a discussion of the Millenium and the varying beliefs and odd behavior of people in their attempt to understand Y2K. There are also two characters introduced midway through the book - the 16yr Chase, a miscreant from the school, and Tony, a mysterious traveling monk. I think it may have been the injection of these two more interesting characters that saved me from closing down completely on the humdrum husband and wife.

The "pros" of this book are few, and would have been much more valuable if I had enjoyed the story more: there are only about 3 or 4 obscenities, and only a couple of vaguely referenced examples of sexual content. There is one uncomfortable discussion about self-flagellation, but in the context of the story, it fits. I should be shouting "hurrahs" for finding such a *clean* book. If only it weren't so dull! Ack!!

I am hesitantly putting this in the "To Be Tasted" section, although I'm considering adding a category entitled "Smell This - I Think It's Bad".

5-0 out of 5 stars Gentle as an Evensong
I agree with everything the reviewer "Birdwoman" from Bryn Mawr Pa May 06 said.This was a beautifully written book.I would say a more intellectual version of the Mitford books by Jan Karon.
Another reviewer mentioned that the story was overly religious but I didn't feel that at all.I did not agree with every point Ms. Godwin made regarding religious views but there were plenty I liked and took into my heart even further.
I like the idea she presented that God wanted to "make more of us". (her way of saying "God's plan for us"?)I found the situation with Tony the monk, and Chase amusing at times. The love between Margaret and Adrian so deep and tender was touching to read yet at times laced with emotional angry moments.The beginning of the book was a bit slow going but by page 60 or so I was getting real interested in the story then found myself looking forward to when I could settle in and begin reading it again.So don't get discouraged.
I loved that the author chose to write about faith and how it weaves its way in the daily lives and thoughts of the people in the book.I saw how Margaret, the pastor committed her day to God with prayer and devotion and wondered what better way to start the day?I ended up feeling nourished in my soul after reading this book and felt the message Pastor Margaret wanted us to hear was trust and faith in God first would teach us how to muddle through our lives, make more of ourselves and each other and learn to use the gift of love through kindness and patience.
If I read the ending correctly, there is a third book in this saga coming one of thesemonths.I hope anyway.

5-0 out of 5 stars A quiet yarn
This is a story told from the first person - the narrator is a priest, a young woman who's both in love with and loves her husband. It's a peaceful yet completely disrming stoty with flashbacks filling in the characters. There's a slight amount of small-town intrigue in the backdrop of the end of the millenium. Mostly though, there's a quiet definition of the narrator's faith - in people, in life, in God.

I adored this story and its quiet, slow pace. Perhaps it does pale in comparison to the prequel - I picked this up in the library and didn't realize it was a sequel. It stands alone well.

(*)> ... Read more

7. The Making of a Writer: Journals, 1961-1963
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 352 Pages (2007-01-30)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$8.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812974697
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Gail Godwin was twenty-four years old when she wrote: “I want to be everybody who is great; I want to create everything that has ever been created.” It is a declaration that only a wildly ambitious young writer would make in the privacy of her journal. Now, in The Making of a Writer, Godwin has distilled her early journals, which run from 1961 to 1963, to their brilliant and charming essence. She conveys the feverish period following the breakup of her first marriage; the fateful decision to move to Europe and the shock of her first encounters with Danish customs (and Danish men); the pleasures of soaking in the human drama on long rambles through the London streets and the torment of lonely Sundays spent wrestling these impressions into prose; and the determination to create despite rejection and a growing stack of debts. “I do not feel like a failure,” Godwin insists. “I will keep writing, harder than ever.”

Brimming with urgency and wit, Godwin’s inspiring tome opens a shining window into the life and craft of a great writer just coming into her own.

“A generous gift from a much-loved author to her readers.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Full of lively, entertaining observations on the literary life . . . [captures] the spirit of a young writer’s adventure into foreign lands and foreign realms of thought and creative endeavor.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“As cities and continents and men change, the entries are borne along by . . . the young Godwin’s fierce conviction that she is meant to write fiction and her desire to distract herself from this mission with any man who catches her eye.”
The New York Times Book Review

“[Godwin] describes a high-wire act of love and work. . . . She espouses fierce, uncompromising ideas about fiction.”
Los Angeles Times

“[Gail Godwin’s journals] are a gold mine.”
The Boston Globe ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Personal and Professional Journey
Gail Godwin's latest book is as much about the struggle of a female in her mid-twenties to find her life's work, as it is about writing.As her story unfolds over a two-year period, the reader can sense the author's growth, both as a person and as a writer.I recommend this book for anyone who wants to be a writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Raw and Revealing
I first read Gail Godwin's work in the mid-seventies, when in the midst of the women's movement, I was trying to find my way through the dilemma of being an independent woman who loved men. Godwin had been there before me, and I was attracted to her early novels--The Perfectionist, The Odd Woman and Violet Clay.

Now, reading her journal, I see that she was addressing of this dilemma nine years before shepublished her first novel in 1970. She's been one step ahead of me ever since. At first, this journal seems to be rather typically about a woman with a wealth of male lovers and friends who can't decide who's Mr. Right. Remember, this is pre-Second Wave feminism, on the early edge of the Sexual Revolution. She's so circumspect about her sexuality that you must read carefully to figure out who she's sleeping with, and who she's not. Although Britain must have been more open that North Carolina where she grew up, Gail scandalizes the people who run the boarding house where she lives by staying out all night. She struggles with developing her own moral compass just as diligently as she struggles with her affection for a variety of men.

She also forms one of her rare female friendships with an American woman of color, something that was uncommon for Southern white women as the Civil Rights movement gained momentum.

Meanwhile, she flogs herself about her writing and re-writing of various fictions, none of which makes it to publication during the course of this journal. She takes her vocation as a writer seriously, above anything else. Amazingly, she's only twenty-four when this journal begins, but she's already married and discarded one husband and one career as a journalist.

Beyond her determination to be a writer, two things intrigued me about these musings: the attraction she must have held for men and the absence of mention of her parents. I found explanations for both that satisfied me before I finished. The poet Sylvia Plath was about the same age as Godwin and lived in London at the same time. There is no indication that they encountered each other, but it's interesting to compare how the two women addressed very similar personal and vocational issues.

Now I want to return to the novels and see if they have the same power I felt when I first read them. Godwin was brave to publish this journal, because by spilling her guts on some very raw material, she reveals how her persistence led to a rich literary career.

4-0 out of 5 stars Of Zeitgeists and Interstices
On the face of it, this book seems to be pitched to aspiring writers, but I think that it holds greater value as a reflection of the early 1960's, and as a testimony to the human spirit.

In "The Making of a Writer" Gail Godwin describes her life in terms that echo the words of a heroine in her fictional work, "The Odd Woman".In that book, the character of Jane says, "Sometimes I think those persons raised in the interstices of Zeitgeists are the ones most punished."

At the beginning of the 1960's,America was not a country given over to self-examination. A resurgence of feminism was nothing more than a vague rumor that may have swirled in the air.Women in the early 60's were not well positioned for success. This was a generation in peril of falling through the cracks.The truest echo of this time may be Sylvia Plath's classic, "The Bell Jar".

For Gail Godwin, the 60's began with an abortive attempt at marraige and a short stint as a journalist with the Miami Herald which also ended disastrously.Focusingher indomitable will on her desire to become a writer, Godwin embarked on a personal odyssey, traveling to Denmark, Spain, and the Canary Islands before taking a job with the Travel Service and extended residence in London.

In her journals she depicts both the struggle to become a published fiction writer, and a deeper quest to understand herself and other human beings.As she records impressions of her life and the characters who populate it, she also strives to find the modern writers that most speak to her sensibilities and to discover the essences she most wants to informher own stories.

As a "twenty- something'',Godwin is possessed of a very acute intelligence--but the reader will also find hints of youthful callowness.To her credit, Godwin has not expurgated her journals.Their scrupulous honesty is part of their appeal.

As the book progresses,Godwin seems to shift her aims away from overly idealized characterizations and toward a new concern with "displaced persons". As this volume ends,she is beginning to investigate Carl Jung's psychological theories,something which seems to bode well for a young writer who views much of the world in black and white.

One thing that I didn't find endearing about this book was its use of an "explicator", in the form of editor Rob Neufeld.His italicized introductions and interjections often seem to be leading the reader like a rather stuffy tour guide through the Musee d' Godwin.I didn't really appreciate his presence, and I wish Godwin had done the honors (of "explication") herself.

Not every reader who comes to this book is going to buy into the idea, as Neufeld does, that Godwin is a writer of greatness deserving to join Faulkner, Steinbeck,or even Salinger in the firmament.The excerpts from the fiction Godwin was writing at the time of these memoirs reveal only a talented beginner---one who seems intimidated by the contemporary Beat writers ( her story about a Village girl seems lifeless ) and unsure about how to fully animate fiction drawing on her own backround.

It could be that in the future, nonetheless, these diaries (of which this volume is the first) may be regarded as Godwin's best work.I am not ready to compare her to Anais Nin or Lou Salome, but these journals do reveal an estimable intelligence possessed of great determination.In finally stepping out from behind the veil of fiction,it is here that Godwin may make her lasting mark.

5-0 out of 5 stars A private glimpse into Godwin's early life
Bestselling author Gail Godwin, a three-time National Book Award nominee, keeps a journal that her friend Joyce Carol Oates suggested she edit and share with readers. In this first installment, we eavesdrop on Godwin's life as she emerges as a writer during her travels to Europe as a young woman.

The journals open as Godwin is waitressing at a resort in North Carolina, saving money for her grand excursion. She is soon on a ship headed to Denmark --- and adventure. Humorous character sketches of her fellow passengers draw the reader in as we follow her to her destination.

Godwin struggles with self-doubt as a writer and her relationship with the man she loves in Denmark, as well as her perennial lack of money. She considers going home, but when she's offered a job in London, she takes it. First, though, she visits the Canary Islands for a blissful month. Afterward, she is torn between staying with a local love and going on to London. When she finally decides, her leave-taking is wrenching.

In London, her roller-coaster writer's life continues with the highs of doing good work and completing projects in which she takes pride. The lows are rejections and periods of writing inertia. She similarly experiences a roller-coaster relationship with 38-year-old never-married, "probably hopeless" James. She connects with other men and travels back to North Carolina to meet up with an old lover.

Back in London, Godwin struggles with co-workers, office politics, changing apartments, and writing or not writing. She yearns for a true relationship with a man, all the while despising herself for caring so much. At the same time, she celebrates her freedom.

Godwin constantly thinks about her writing. Even as she battles self-doubt she concocts rules to write by, such as: Don't be false. Trust in the story. Eliminate the dull parts. Forget second-best plots. Don't anticipate the reader's reaction. Start somewhere, anywhere. Let the ending be found in the beginning.

The reader of THE MAKING OF A WRITER is privileged to watch as Godwin composes a story, talking herself through each part and using her life experiences --- a fascinating process. She also includes advice on keeping a journal and the reflection that her journal entries seed writing that may come decades later. The book is also liberally peppered with footnotes; at the outset I found these distracting but soon came to relish them.

I've been a Gail Godwin fan for decades. After reading her journal, I feel that I now know her as a struggling author and as a person of moods and vulnerabilities. I constantly looked forward to my time reading it and discovering more about the author. It is particularly fascinating to read Godwin's latest novel, QUEEN OF THE UNDERWORLD, which was partially based on the author's experience as a young reporter in Miami, in order to discover echoes between the two books: a suicide, waitressing jobs, significant names, and more. An excellent read; highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) ... Read more

8. The Finishing School (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 352 Pages (1999-04-20)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345431901
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Justin Stokes would never forget the summer she turned fourteen, nor the woman who transformed her bleak adolescent life into a wondrous place of brilliant color. In the little pondside hut she called her "finishing school," eccentric, free-spirited Ursula DeVane opened up a world full of magical possibilities for Justin, teaching her valuable lessons of love and loyalty, encouraging her to change, to learn, to grow. But the lessons of the finishing school have their dark side as well, as Justin learns how deep friendship can be shattered by shocking, unforgivable betrayal.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Love Can Lead to Betrayal
This is a wonderful book.It is about young Justin Stokes' relationship with Ursula Devane, an
older woman who is his mentor and guide.Their lives are inextricably connected until Justin
ends up betraying Ursula as Ursula had once betrayed her own mother.

I am a fan of Gail Godwin's and highly recommend this book.Another book of hers that I
like very much is Violet Clay: A Novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars This says it all:
Justin Stokes would never forget the summer she turned fourteen, nor the woman who transformed her bleak adolescent life into a wondrous place of brilliant color. In the little pond side hut also known as the "finishing school," eccentric, free-spirited Ursula DeVane opened up a world full of magical possibilities for Justin, teaching her valuable lessons of love and loyalty, and encouraging her to change, to learn, to grow. But the lessons of the finishing school have their dark side as well, as Justin learns how deep friendship can be shattered by shocking, unforgivable betrayal.

5-0 out of 5 stars finishing school
When teenager Justin Stokes goes for a bike ride one summer day, she doesn't expect to meet a woman who will change her life. With a flair for the dramatic and a tragic past, Ursula De Vane doesn't enter Justin's life so much as she explodes into it.Justin, longing to free the constraints of her conventional aunt, inquisitive baby brother and recently widowed mother, finds in Ursula the kindred desire not to live an ordinary life.But when past secrets threaten to undermine their relationship, can she find it in her to accept that Ursula is human and flawed after all. Told from the perspective of the adult Justin, now an actress, still haunted by that summer.

3-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, but not enough plot.
Justin Stokes, a precocious, despondent 14 year old adolescent, feels trapped in a rural "one-horse" town to which her family was forced to move for monetary reasons.Justin's only respite is her fleeting relationship with Ursula DeVane, a vibrant educated woman in her forties, who lives with her highly sensitive, classical pianist brother.For one summer, Justin goes out of her way to develop a relationship with Ursula, as basically everyone else that she has contact with, including her family members, bores her.As one might expect though, Ursula and her brother have a past which eventually catches up with them, and which profoundly affects Justin, even into her adulthood.Although Gail Godwin virtually promises to "shock" her audience, a reader of contemporary novels will hardly be shocked.

Godwin is one of our best contemporary writers.Her description of detail (for instance, how she describes a garden, or a pond in the forest) rivals the best 19th century British authors.I love, for example, how Justin practices her pronunciation of the name "Ursula" in attempt to impress her older friend.

My criticism of the novel is there is not enough of a story to justify 300+ pages.I think I might have enjoyed it more if it were 100 pages shorter, or even written as a novella.On the other hand, Godwin is such a remarkable writer, that I always enjoy reading her, even if the book is somewhat slow-going.

If you are interested in reading Gail Godwin, I would recommend starting with "A Southern Family," which is longer, but more compelling, and easier to get through.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good beginning and ending
I had a bit of trouble getting through the middle of the book: I lost interest but towards the end it picks up again. ... Read more

9. Queen of the Underworld: A Novel
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 368 Pages (2007-01-30)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$2.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345483197
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Here at last is the eagerly awaited new novel from New York Times bestselling author Gail Godwin. Queen of the Underworld is sweeping and sultry literary fiction, featuring a memorable young heroine and engaging characters whose intimate dramas interconnect with hers.
In the summer of 1959, as Castro clamps down on Cuba and its first wave of exiles flees to the States to wait out what they hope to be his short-lived reign, Emma Gant, fresh out of college, begins her career as a reporter. Her fierce ambition and belief in herself are set against the stories swirling around her, both at the newspaper office and in her downtown Miami hotel, which is filling up with refugees.
Emma’s avid curiosity about life thrives amid the tropical charms and intrigues of Miami. While toiling at the news desk, she plans the fictional stories she will write in her spare time. She spends her nights getting to know the Cuban families in her hotel–and rendezvousing with her married lover, Paul Nightingale, owner of a private Miami Beach club.
As Emma experiences the historical events enveloping the city, she trains her perceptive eye on the people surrounding her: a newfound Cuban friend who joins the covert anti-Castro training brigade, a gambling racketeer who poses a grave threat to Paul, and a former madam, still in her twenties, who becomes both Emma’s obsession and her alter ego. Emma’s life, like a complicated dance that keeps sweeping her off her balance, is suddenly filled with divided loyalties, shady dealings, romantic and professional setbacks, and, throughout, her adamant determination to avoid “usurpation” by others and remain the protagonist of her own quest.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

2-0 out of 5 stars Hard to like main character and little plot
I really like Gail Godwin and have enjoyed many of her books. I grabbed this one off the shelf in my local library and expected an enjoyable and sensitive book. Unfortunately it was not the case. In addition to the lack of plot and flat narrative, I just didn't like Emma and couldn't figure out what about her was supposed to be interesting. She seemed to just walk through life, expecting to be famous, resenting not being important (she wasn't) and having as affair with a married man with no qualms. The setting and time period had such potential but it was not fulfilled in this book. Most disappointing.

1-0 out of 5 stars Torture...
There aren't too many books that I've read that I've disliked from start to finish.I'm reluctant to give up on a book--sometimes stories that start out slow come to a roaring finish.I was hoping for something similar when I started Gail Godwin's Queen of the Underworld.Was I mistaken!This book was absolute torture, and I hate admitting this as I generally enjoy Gail Godwin.Her Father Melancholy's Daughter is one of my very favorite books.

Emma Gant is fresh out of college when she gets a job as a reporter for the Miami Star.Fidel Castro has just taken over Cuba and Miami is being overrun by prominent Cubans who have lost everything to the Castro regime.This novel bounces around--characters appear and then disappear, loose ends dangle everywhere, the title character (The Queen of the Underworld) is AWOL, there isn't a single likable character and the entire book is just too painful for words.

What was even more depressing than The Queen of the Underworld is that it took me almost two weeks to read it.I'm very embarrassed for Gail Godwin and I can't understand why her editors would allow this book to be published.No wonder I'm seeing it for sale in our local dollar stores.

2-0 out of 5 stars Phoned In
What a lot of interesting secondary characters! Unfortunately, the main character is pretty much annoying. An abusive stepfather gains our sympahy for the plucky heroine at first, but she's so clueless and chirpy--wow, look at me, folks, I'm having an affair! --we lose the sympathy fast and just keep waiting to see if she stumbles.

In the audio version, the narrator does a pretty good job with the various accents, but slips out of Southern a few times.

1-0 out of 5 stars what a disappointment!!
Many other reviews summarize the book so I won't repeat everything here. Suffice it to say - it was very disappointing! I kept waiting for something to happen and when the book finally seemed to get really interesting, it ended - just ended - with no resolution, finality, anything!! A waste of time - could have been so much more.Don't buy it - borrow it or pass altogether.If I like a book, I keep it - this one I will sell to a used book store or donate to Goodwill.

3-0 out of 5 stars Reviewed by Karen Morse
Bright-eyed, independent Emma Gant arrives in Miami in the summer of 1959 with the world at her feet.She has a married lover who'll show her the ropes, and a reasonably-priced residence orchestrated by a family friend, and an upwardly-mobile job at the Miami Star, the most important accessory for a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill journalism school.

Emma joins the Star's reporting staff at a tumultuous time, shortly after Fidel Castro enacted his First Agrarian Reform. Living in a hotel run by Cuban émigrés for Cuban émigrés makes the upheavals of Castro's revolución more than just news to Emma.Placing her in this context, the author seems to be drawing a comparison between Emma's situation and that of the Cubans.As Emma is struggling to figure out her place in the world and gauge her future success, so are her newly exiled neighbors.

The more one reads into the life history of the author, the more Queen of the Underworld begins to seem like a semi-autobiographical novel.Godwin herself graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1959 and spent a year on the staff of the Miami Herald before embarking on the world travels that sparked her literary career.

What is most curious about the novel is that it takes place over such a short period of time.The story of Emma's coming into her own, Queen of the Underworld is a window into what seems to be a key moment in Emma's development, one that may affect her entire career.Godwin, however, manages to squeeze an unbelievable amount of action into less than two weeks.Emma's life during the span of the novel is so full, it is almost surreal; as she herself recounts, "in one week and three days, I met a gangster walking a dog, sat behind a notorious boss at a funeral, became friends with [an] ex-madame [...], and helped two Cubans smuggle arms out of Florida" (331), and that's not even the half of it.

By contrast, the novel's ending is unsatisfying and somewhat abrupt.While Emma fantasizes about writing a novel, there is nothing (besides Godwin's own history) that gives any indication that Emma will become a novelist.The narrative ends with both Emma and the reader waiting on her future, filled with unanswered questions.

Godwin's characterization, however, is the novel's saving grace.Emma is amazingly sympathetic despite her naïveté and the fact that she seems to have no compunction about sleeping with another woman's husband (although her sexual relationships do seem to be at odds with her history of sexual abuse).More significantly, Queen of the Underworld is full of finely drawn secondary characters.One such character is Don Waldo Navarro, a prominent academic who fled Cuba with his memoirs sewn into his wife's skirt.A minor character, who could have easily been shunted aside after his grand entrance, Don Waldo is made real in Godwin's attention to detail:he swims breaststroke in the hotel pool "in billowing maroon trunks" (260) with "his leonine head erect" (259) and has the ability of seamlessly incorporating a nine-year-old Spanish-speaking girl into a English-language conversation: "the great educator's consecutive translations into Spanish on Luisa's behalf bore no trace of pedagogy.Don Waldo made it seem merely as though he suddenly chose to complete the rest of his discourse in another tongue" (272).

Godwin has written a number of other novels including The Odd Woman, Violet Clay, and A Mother and Two Daughters, each of which was nominated for the National Book Award.A career author, she published her first novel in 1970.Her papers are archived in the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

... Read more

10. Father Melancholy's Daughter
by Gail Godwin
 Paperback: Pages (2003)
-- used & new: US$6.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000VA4Z8C
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Father and A Daughter's Close Relationship
At age six, Margaret's mother goes away and never returns.Margaret is raised by her father, an Episcopal priest, who suffers from bouts of melancholia.As a result, father and daughter support each other during Margaret's childhood and young adulthood.It is a unique relationship, grounded in Christian beliefs.A moving and unforgettable story!

5-0 out of 5 stars deeply spiritual, poignant subject, great characters - worth every minute!
Do you remember "The Hours" and the character played by Julianne Moore? The woman, who decided to leave her family and start a new life? The abandonment had a profound effect on her sensitive son Richard (played by Ed Harris), who committed suicide on the day of the party celebrating his literary prize for a monumental autobiographical novel, where the mother was depicted as, basically, a monster.

Such a situation (mother leaving her child) is rare, but so memorable, that I had the association with this movie immediately when I began reading "Father Melancholy's Daughter" by Gail Godwin (my first encounter with the author).
Godwin's novel is told from the point of view of a daughter abandoned by her mother. Margaret Gower is six years old when her mother, Ruth, goes on a "vacation" with Madelyn Farley, her old friend, an artist-scenographer (later turned playwright and theater director). Margaret is left with her father, Reverend Walter Gower, good-natured and wise, deeply religious man prone to depression.Ruth never comes back - her vacation becomes longer and longer, and after a year she is killed in a car accident and Margaret is left unsure whether Ruth would ever have come back if the accident had not taken place.

Somehow, most likely because of Walter's thoughtful guidance, Margaret emerges from her wounded childhood as a strong young woman. She is not mistake-free, but her mistakes are rather typical coming-of-age problems, like choice of life path, profession, and sorting out her feelings for Ben McGruder, younger brother of Margaret's best friend Harriet. Ben's lifelong infatuation with Margaret stirs her mind and emotions. The true shake, however, comes when Madelyn Farley, who after Ruth's death has become very famous as an author and director of anticlerical plays, visits Walter's home yet again...

"Father Melancholy's Daughter" is infused with Christian faith. The author is obviously at ease with theology and the characters are deeply spiritual. And this spirituality and faith are what gets them through the most difficult times. Margares gives a lot of thought to everything that happens in her life, she is by no means superficial, but she is not wounded or broken. There are many philosophical passages in the book and I loved every minute of reading, although they slow don the pace of the narrative - so that sometimes there are jumps and sometimes long stretches of time, the plot accelerates and slows down unexpectedly. This does not diminish the reading pleasure. I loved the notion that faith can carry us and God (although I am not a believer) depicted here is really worth believing into. I am not familiar with Episcopalian denomination, certainly very different from Roman Catholic, which I know best, but I like it already.

I liked "Father Melancholy's Daughter" and was so glad I ha a chance to read it that when I finished, I immediately picked up a sequel, "Evensong" (also recommended). Gail Godwin is a great writer and I am surprised she is not more widely read, because she deserves attention.

3-0 out of 5 stars Chick Lit
I had a really hard time identifying with and understanding the actions of the characters. Maybe it would appeal more to women. I also think it was too long. In short, after starting I really had to force myself to read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Torn Family
Abandoned by her mother at age six, Margaret Gower grows up with her loving, but frequently depressed father. An Anglican minister, Father Gower is the quintessential high-church Anglican, and a model of patience and compassion. Like Margaret he has been fundamentally changed by his wife's departure. Margaret is the model devoted daughter, but much responsibility falls on her young shoulders. And much of Margaret's mind is taken up with trying to figure out the enigma that was her mother. Though both Margaret and her father have been deeply wounded by her mother's absence, this is not a story of ruined lives or sadness. It is a beautiful story about a family and a community, and how they deal with loss.

4-0 out of 5 stars Engrossing and beautifully crafted
This is a beautifully structured novel with diverse and believable characters.Much of their realism lies in their unpredictable choices and preferences.Just as in real life, we may question their motives and actions; but they are what they are. Godwin has avoided stereotyping.Her descriptive abilities are at their best when she depicts her characters' most excruciating moments, which are the heart of the book.

Although the ecclesiastical setting is essential to the story, the dialog is sometimes self-consciously pedantic.When the characters discuss theology, the reader senses that the discussion is primarily for the benefit of the reader, that the characters are aware of an audience. Nevertheless, Godwin's tale of loss and forgiveness more than overcomes this flaw.
... Read more

11. Heart : A Personal Journey Through Its Myths and Meanings
by Gail Godwin
 Paperback: Pages (2001)

Asin: B0041L2SE0
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars A change of pace
Godwin, best known for her fiction (Father Melancholy's Daughter and Evensong), gives us a change of pace with her book, Heart.She begins by looking at "a painting of a wooly mammoth on a cave wall in Spain [circa 10,000 BCE], showing a red, heart-shaped spot where the beast's heart would naturally be" and ends with Paul Klee's "most striking pictorial representations of the heart."In between, we meet the Buddha--"cool mind and a warm heart" as well as Japan's unique form of poetry, haiku--images that "arise naturally out of the...heart-mind."We come across teaching concerning the heart through Jesus, Mohammad, Confucius, as well as the Upanishads.We learn about the rift that "fractured seventeenth-century thought" as James Hillman reflects, "Thought lost its heart, heart its thought."

Interspersed throughout Heart are anecdotes that give us intimate access into the author's "heart journeys."Godwin's description of her brother's death is telling."Though the official cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head, I believe my brother Tommy died of a broken heart."

Particularly instructive to me was the section entitled "Absence of Heart/Heartlessness."Gilbert Osmond, a character in Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, illustrates the behavior of somebody "without heart."Gilbert lacks empathy--he is not able to "feel what it's like to want to give someone else something without getting something for it yourself."He appreciates Isabel Archer's efforts to promote his welfare, but doesn't understnad it.

All this and more await the reader in Godwin's ambitious heart-felt work.Her proclivity toward wordiness works better in her fiction, nonetheless, this volume is well worth your investment of time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Opening of the mind
Heart is a marvelous piece of writing!Every chapter has opened my mind a little more. I am very thankful to Mrs. Godwin for that interesting book. I have learned so many new facts about the different religions of the world. I recommend the reading of "Heart" to everybody curious enough to learn a little more about the persons around us thinking that the heart is important in life. Mrs. Godwin is my favorite author! Thank you for writing "Heart"! Doris VeilletteHamel, Canada

5-0 out of 5 stars A delightful and highly satisfying journey
I found this journey into the meanings and aspects of the human heart uplifting, inspirational and thoroughly enlightening. Especially intriguing to me was the story of St. Augustine's search for God "from a period of violent floundering into joyful conversion."Godwin writes with a kind of intimacy that invites you to pick this book up to enjoy again and again.

2-0 out of 5 stars Heart Attack
Disappointing.Though I'm a big Gail Godwin fan, and reread her later novels with delight at least once a year, this one will get put out at my next garage sale. Imagine a monster movie in which the Paralyzingly Tedious High Church Anglican Sermon meets the Deadly First Draft Graduate Thesis.I wish that Godwin had condensed her best heart insights and research into a sermon for a character like her Reverend Margaret Gower, from Evensong, to preach; or a lecture for a character like Magda Danvers, from The Good Husband, to deliver.The book's structure fails.Godwin hops unpredictably between historic characters or events to which she arbitrarily assigns a relationship with the theme of the heart.The treatments of complex historic traditions and world religions are distressingly superficial. Godwin has no command of comparative religion.The conclusions that she draws from one poorly-planned visit to a Buddhist meditation session are shallow. She gallops through Taoism, Shintoism and Confucianism, sweeping up a few easy generalizations about these complex traditions.In the best sections, Godwin writes about what she has obviously pondered longest: the Christian tradition and family relationships. She treats these subjects so well through the medium of fiction, and so clumsily in essays.I look forward to her next novel.

4-0 out of 5 stars a meditation on the heart
HEART is fascinating. Not a novel, but a meditation on all the meanings human beings have given the heart. Godwin uses an ancient myth of Ianna, who challenges herself by a descent into the underworld, to illustrate how we can expand our capacity for loving and understanding others. She writes vividly and fluently of famous theologians, authors, and epics, to make you think about illuminating your relationship to others. For example, the Buddha is he of the cool mind and warm heart. A life enhancing read. ... Read more

12. Glass People
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 224 Pages (1996-01-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.95
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Asin: 0345389905
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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"POWERFUL. . .GODWIN IS BRILLIANT. . .DEFTLY PLOTTED AND IMAGINED. . . [It] deepened my long-cherished belief about certain forms of art: that in exploring extremities of human behavior, in forcing us to wade through real or metaphorical blood, such art saves us from these experiences and is cathartic in the best sense of the term."
--Joyce Carol Oates
The Washington Post
Francesca married her husband Cameron, an ambitious Los Angeles district attorney, because he asked. Beautiful and pampered, she has never worked and has never wanted to. She lives only to appreciate the finer things and to be adored. But after four years of marriage, she finds herself unable to move, to dress in the morning, or to take the elevator outside.
Lately, she finds her days drifting by in a haze. She'd like to leave Cameron, but the effort seems too great. Instead, she visits her mother, once her closest confidante, now indifferent and distant. As Francesca prays for rescue, change makes a surprise appearance, and suddenly she is faced with the choice between an awkward life and a slow, comfortable death. . . .
"Deceptively subtle: it would be easy to skim right over all the deep things the author is saying and read her book as a well-written surface story of a beautiful woman who makes an abortive bid for freedom....I have been crying out for contemporary woman's new consciousness to express or define itself in a good novel....Here it is: Glass People by Gail Godwin."
--Anatole Broyard
The New York Times
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Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Importance of Individuality
Glass People is about a married woman who finds herself falling into depression. Francesca has come to the realization that she has lost her identity, or perhaps, she never had one. She gains the strength to go in search of herself but makes a full circle back to her husband.

This is a book for anyone seeking to know more about themselves or for anyone who is going through the horrors of catatonic depression. It will leave you with questions and answers. It is a book that could be read over and over because there are lines that are there for deep analysis. ... Read more

13. Dream Children: Stories
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 288 Pages (1996-07-30)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$3.90
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Asin: 0345389921
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"Compelling, beautiful. . .Miraculous. . . Astonishing. . . So deeply satisfying, as to be breathtaking."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
In fifteen extraordinary and lyrical short stories, esteemed novelist Gail Godwin has created worlds in which we discover ourselves as lovers, mothers, wives, and friends.
Carefully, delicately, Ms. Godwin peels back the layers of defense and reveals women who search for meaning and connection in a world of abstraction and isolation. In "Dream Children," a reckless young wife finds herself unable to separate from the child she has lost; in "My Love, His Summer Vacation," the mistress of a married man so closely follows his every action that she has no life of her own; and in "Indulgences," a woman makes a list of her lovers, only to wonder if she can love.
A keen observer of both heart and mind, Ms. Godwin has conjured up a stunning collection of stories that strike at the center of our lives.
"In Dream Children, Gail Godwin shows her capabilities as a clear-seeing uncoverer of thought. . . . What she knows about the workings of the human mind as it deals with grand tragedies, tiny sorrows, she knows with conviction."
--The Christian Science Monitor
"The work of a writer who is moving confidently to the forefront of contemporary American fiction."
--The Miami Herald
"The stories are all. . . detailed with expertise and frosted with elegance."
--Kirkus Reviews
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Stories about ordinary people with extraordinary inner lives
Where do people go when they drift off, a glazed far-away look in their eyes? They've slipped into invisible dimensions, the solitary worlds people inhabit within themselves, their unshareable places. What makes Gail Godwin's short story collection such an astounding delight is the way she finds, not only to follow her characters to their secret places, but to also open the door so we can follow, too. ... Read more

14. The Good Husband (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 468 Pages (1995-07-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$0.75
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Asin: 0345396456
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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--San Francisco Chronicle
As a young woman, the brilliant and eternally curious Magda Danvers took the academic world by storm. Then, to everyone's surprise, she married Francis Lake, a mild, midwestern seminarian, who has devoted his life to taking care of his charismatic wife. Now, Magda's grave illness puts their marriage to its ultimate test.
Though facing her "Final Examination," Magda continues to arouse her visitors with compelling thoughts and questions. Into this provocative atmosphere comes Alice Henry, retreating from family tragedy and a crumbling marriage to novelist Hugo Henry. But is it the incandescence of Magda's ideas that draws Alice, or the secret of "the good marriage" that she is desperate to discover? For Alice, Hugo, Francis, and Magda will learn that the most ideal relationship--even a perfect marriage--doesn't come without a price....
"COMPELLING WRITING...REMARKABLY SKILLFUL...Gail Godwin shows herself to be at the height of her considerable power as a storyteller and a writer."
--The Boston Globe
"ONE OF HER FINEST BOOKS...It is not only a well-written story, but a mature and wise one, affirmative in its vision of love, unblinking in its portrayal of tragic loss."
--Atlanta Journal & Constitution
--Entertainment Weekly
"A BRILLIANTLY CRAFTED NOVEL, full of fun and mischief and resonating with wisdom and moral depth."
--New Woman
A Featured Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club
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Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Good Husband
I thought the book could have been written less wordy.There seemed to be flat characters who didn't even fit within the story well.The literary references were too abundant.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, well crafted
This is an interesting, well crafted novel of character, and of the marital relationship.You are privy to each of the main character's thoughts, although Francis is not introspective at all, and most of what you learn about him is through dialogue.He is the most problematic character, being such a good soul; it took me most of the book to accept him as genuine, not an idealized personality.Perhaps Godwin could have offered more insight into his attraction to Magda, or perhaps BOTH marriages occurred in part because one partner was ready for marriage to escape their current life.

Bea McCandless is an appealing secondary character, and I liked what she had to say about novels (p. 270):the characters are like people she knew, "Only they're clearer, somehow, in your books.One comprehends them better."

3-0 out of 5 stars disappointing
I can't quite put my finger on why I was so disappointed in this book. The characters were well-drawn, and fairly sympathetic, each in their own way. The plot moved along relatively briskly. I just don't know. Maybe it was Godwin's habit of "foreshadowing" an event in the past. Several times we hear about a life-changing event in a characters life before we are taken back to find out what happened. Just tell us already and stop playing games! Perhaps it was that certain parts of it seemed contrived, not plot-wise, just writing-wise, as though Godwin said to herself "Ah, there's a clever thought, I must find a way to write it into my next book." And then she did, in the guise of writing about writers and thinkers. It became very annoying to have these things we were obviously supposed to regard as "gems" littering an otherwise good scene.

5-0 out of 5 stars Love the title-love the book
I have loved every book I have read by Gail Godwin. She has such great insight into people and is perceptive, all while writing with a compassionate heart. She has an amazing ability to create characters that you can care about, dream along with, and feel for. The 4 main characters truly grow and are made stronger by their sufferings. I loved Francis and his simple joys in life. I loved his true devotion to Magda. He is truly a good husband. Come along on the journey with these characters. This book made me love and appreciate my life more...my family, my marriage and my own good husband.

5-0 out of 5 stars Too good for me
It's set in an upstate New York liberal arts college and centers on two married couples. Brilliant Martha is married to saintly Francis and dies of cancer.Perfect Alice, traumatized by the death of her parents and perfect brother, is married to flawed Hugo and suffers a stillbirth.The cancer death, the mourning for the brother, and the stillbirth are described in excellently written, detailed and realisticpassages which, being a shallow superficial person, I found depressing.
I'm probably not nice enough or clever enough to properly appreciate this. I feel rather like I do listening to Bach when I'd just as soon listen to the top 20 on my car radio..
Some of the writing is ingenious post-modern stuff, such as the scene where Hugo, a creative writing teacher, who has written an autobiographical novel, is listening to a dimwitted creative writing student who has written an autobiographical short story and fantasizing that he (Hugo) isdescribing an autobiographical story to a creative writing teacher,
This is great literature, full of profound insights and deep poetic understanding. I gave it five stars. Now I'll go back to Elmore Leonard and Janet Evanovich.
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15. Heart: A Natural History of the Heart-Filled Life
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 336 Pages (2002-02-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000C4STUC
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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What is the heart? We know it as not only the beating thing in our chests that sustains life, but as the wellspring of all faith, hope, and love. In this remarkable book, critically acclaimed author Gail Godwin takes us on a breathtaking journey that spans the history of human civilization, combining myth, art and religion to understand how humans have conceived of the heart through time. From the first valentine to the first stethoscope, from the Ancient Egyptians to the Buddha, from the heart of darkness to heart-to-heart talks, Godwin weaves her own stories of heartbreak and hope through it all.

Inspired by the richest of lore, Godwin ultimately arrives at what every culture must discover anew: we cannot let the head alone rule our lives. In this colorful history of the organ of life itself, she discovers a template for a more heart-filled life.

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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful, Inspiring Book!
When I last visited a local book store, I had in mind to pick up another book but I saw HEARTS by Gail Godwin and after glancing through it, I decided it was worth buying and reading. Not only is it worth it, but it is one of the best books I have read all year! It is wonderful and so inspiring! Trust me - get this book - read it and share with your loved one and your friends. I hope this books takes off in popularity in February - Valentine's Day. It deserves it! ... Read more

16. Gail Godwin (Twayne's United States Authors Series)
by Jane Hill
 Hardcover: 160 Pages (1992-01)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$122.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805776397
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17. The Odd Woman: A Novel
by Gail Godwin
Paperback: 464 Pages (2005-11-29)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345389913
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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"HER BEST BOOK SO FAR....[It is] one of the most literate, intelligent and powerful novels I have ever read."
--Eugenia Thornton
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Professor Jane Clifford is in her early thirties, smart, and attractive. A popular teacher at a midwestern college, she appears to be going somewhere. But Jane knows better. After a lifetime habit of looking to books for the answers to life's mysteries, she seems to be finding only more questions.
Then her beloved grandmother suddenly dies, and Jane returns home for the funeral, where she is faced with the little dramas and fictions of both the past she has lived and the past she has only been told about. In the midst of it all, she is considering breaking off a long-term, long-distance affair, but like the family stories she tries to make sense of, she cannot seem to find a reason to claim a life of her own....
"PROVOCATIVE...The Odd Woman is an ambitious and intricately developed novel....One of the most realistic, intelligent and skillful character studies of a contemporary woman to date....Godwin is an extraordinarily good writer....She is a shrewd observer of human sensibilities and shortcomings--particularly those of women--and she explores them in depth with sensitivity, wit and an uncanny eye for the truth."
--Chicago Sun-Times

"EXCITING AND AFFIRMATIVE...It is a privilege to watch the unfolding of her impressive talent."
--Minneapolis Tribune
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Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Godwin's best, but...
Father Melancholy's Daughter, its sequel, Evensong, and A Mother and TwoDaughters are, for me, vintage Godwin. They set the standard forpenetrating characterization and unsettling glimpses into how people reallywork. I picked up The Odd Woman with high hopes and was not utterlydisappointed. Flickers of the good things Godwin will accomplish in laternovels are abundant in this rather dense exploration of a "spinsterprofessor's" running inner dialogue. If this is your first go-aroundwith Godwin, however, skip this for the infinitely richer FatherMelancholy's Daughter or A Mother and Daughters.

1-0 out of 5 stars A disappointment!
I first read this book when I too was a 30ish, unmarried college professor, like its heroine.Fiction which tackles the concerns of professional women was then, as now, rare.I eagerly sought out this book,and what a disappointment it was!The professional concerns receivedalmost no attention, while the heroine's energies were consumed by illadvised romantic and erotic relationships.So what's new?Poorlyconceived and not very well written!

2-0 out of 5 stars An interesting character study;not so interesting character.
Gail Godwin has written some wonderful books; it was the experiences I've had with Ms. Godwin's books that kept me reading this one. I cared very little for the characters or for the story, but kept reading, looking forone of those gems of revalation that sometimes strike when reading GailGodwin - even those were lacking. Books must be so well written that thewords and sentences themselves keep you turning the page; if the words failthe characters and plot must take over.I could not make myself care whathappened to Jane Clifford; a professor of literature who refers to GeorgeEliot by the infrequently used Marian Evens (Mary Anne the name used instandard references and biographical notes).At first, I didn't even knowwho she was referring to, and in the end I found it to be an annoyance. Jane reminded me of one of those people who feel burdened by theirintelligence and remove themselves from the world as we know and enjoy itbecause they are "just a cut above", yet she mourns her lack ofclose relationships and sticks, from pride rather than love, to a marriedman who treats her like the sometime mistress of a married man, and afriend who annoys her by looking for friendship.

2-0 out of 5 stars well-written but delves too deeply into too many issues
This is the first time I've read a book by Gail Godwin.As it relates toreal-life issues, it is not action-packed, nor is it fast paced.It is abit difficult getting through the 423 pages.It is an accurate portrayalof a thirtysomething, single woman struggling with past decisions. Analyzing her present situation, a two-year affair with an older, marriedman, she looks to her family (mother, grandmother, half-sister, great aunt)for clues on which direction to take.So much research, so muchreflecting, etc., are certainly believable but tedious to read. Interesting characters are introduced (the previously mentioned familymembers, friends, step father, etc.) but some of them seem extraneous tothe central story.A little more focus might have made this morecompelling.And, frankly, I am not sure that I ever fully cared for themain character enough to care about her decision.Just when I felt akinship with her, her thoughts took her someplace else and lost me.Herrelationship with her grandmother might have been explored in a separatebook.Or, even a tale of the three generations of women and theirdevelopment over a couple of decades.This book included some of that plusoutside friendships plus the affair which was just too much for one volume.

1-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!
Gail Godwin is one of my favorite authors. Single women will appreciate this book immensely.Godwin weaves a convincing story of a 30+ single woman who examines her relationships when her beloved Grandmother dies.While this story might seem like a familiar one for readers of southern fiction, Godwin adds new depth by creating the most convincing portrait I have ever read of the "internal dialogue" that plagues all of us.Jane Clifford, the book's protagonist, is one of the most convincing characters I've ever had the pleasure to know!Enjoy! ... Read more

18. The Evolving Self in the Novels of Gail Godwin (Southern Literary Studies)
by Lihong Xie
 Hardcover: 242 Pages (1995-03)
list price: US$38.95 -- used & new: US$2.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0807119245
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19. Escaping the Castle of Patriarchy: Patterns of Development in the Novels of Gail Godwin (ACTA Universitatis Upsaliensis)
by Kerstin W. Shands
 Hardcover: 174 Pages (1990-01)
-- used & new: US$36.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9155426050
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20. Sawdust and Incense: World's That Shape a Priest
by Gale D. Webbe
Hardcover: 227 Pages (1989-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0929264657
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