Related to: 'After the Fire'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Hodder & Stoughton

The Sight of the Stars

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

The Sight of the Stars chronicles four generations of the remarkable Anring family as they journey across a teeming canvas of history, through world wars and the close of a century, through years of love, loss, sacrifice and unimaginable betrayal. It is about what happens when we dare to dream, and the moments that can change families forever.

Hodder & Stoughton

Crossroads

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Looking Back

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Her Father's House

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

Donald and Lillian were never a match made in heaven, but they have a child, Tina, and she is the love of Donald's heart.For her he would give up everything: his home, his work and even his freedom. When his marriage fails, he does just that.A chance meeting with a stranger on a train changes his life - and his daughter's - in ways he could never have imagined.From her earliest years Tina is exceptional, a brilliant student and a joyous person with a loving spirit. At university she falls in love with Gilbert who, three years older than she, graduates from law school just as she is about to enter medical school. Together they go to New York, where they learn a truth about Donald that shatters Tina's regard for the father who has for so long protected and cherished her.When a terrible lie has been told for love, can it be forgiven?

Hodder & Stoughton

Fortune's Hand

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

The Carousel

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

In public, Oliver Grey is a devoted father, prominent public figure and respected businessman. But in private, he has a much darker side.On a visit to her brother Dan's house, Oliver's niece Amanda sees a silver carousel much like the one her uncle gave her as a child. When Amanda breaks down and reveals a troubling link between her niece Caroline, her uncle Oliver and the silver carousel, events take a dangerous turn. Horrified by the revelations, Dan's wife Ellen visits Oliver's home to confront him. And when she leaves, Oliver is dead.But with one son mired in gambling debts and a desperately troubled niece, finding the person behind Oliver's death might not be as simple as it seems.

Hodder & Stoughton

Legacy of Silence

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

Caroline Hartzinger flees wartime Europe with a shattered life and a devastating secret. Pregnant and unwed, she arrives in America in 1939. Joel Hirsch offers marriage and respectability, hoping one day to earn her love, if not the passion she feels for a man whose memory haunts them both. With Joel, Caroline builds a new life, determined to bury the past - until her daughter Eve brings Caroline's carefully crafted world crashing down again, driven by rage to discover the truth. Now the legacy that has tainted lives and put generations at risk is Eve's secret to keep. But with it comes a gift - a new sister who offers hope, and a truth that will finally break the hold of the past.

Hodder & Stoughton

Secrecy

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

First came the sin. Then the lies.He was handsome, charming, irresistable, and an eighteen-year-old lady-killer, her uncle Cliff's stepson, Ted. But in one terrible night he would shatter the life of fourteen-year-old Charlotte Dawes and nearly destroy her family. Years afterward, Charlotte would remember that night with fear and loathing, with pain that could be banished only by her work as a gifted architect, building a new world for others as she conceals her own.For Charlotte's family, prime employers in New England mill town, what happened to Charlotte was the beginning of the end. Her father is left shattered by his daughter's pain. Her troubled mother is unable to cope. And her distinguished family has fallen from grace, plunged into debt. The only rock that sustains them in their darkest hours is a woman whose own guilty secret has given her the power to ruin--or resurrect--the family to whom she owes her life.Belva Plain's searing novel cuts to the heart of a family ravaged by secrecy. But it is ultimately a story of redemption, the kind that grows when one person dares to tell the truth.

Hodder & Stoughton

Promises

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain
Hodder & Stoughton

Daybreak

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

Laura and 'Bud' Rice share an elegant home and two children; brilliant, handsome Tom and cherished, chronically ill Timmy. But after nineteen years of marriage, Laura's respectable husband is a stranger - and the reason behind Tom's escalating involvement with a group of campus bigots. Suddenly the Crawfields enter their lives and shatter the Rice's fragile world. As their quiet Southern town explodes with hate and violence, the two families must embrace the shattering truth, or risk being destroyed by it.

Hodder & Stoughton

Evergreen

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

A magnificent story of courage and ambition. Born into poverty and fear, Anna Friedman is desperate to leave her native Poland. Determined to make something of herself, Anna takes a journey that will change her life forever. Crossing the ocean, she moves to into a cramped New York slum and finds a job in a sweatshop. When two very different men fall in love with her, Anna is torn in love and loyalty.

Hodder & Stoughton

Random Winds

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain

From a quiet turn-of-the-century village in upstate New York to war-torn London, from the bedsides of the rural poor to the life-and-death urgency of a New York hospital, comes a powerful epic of three generations of doctors in one family. The Farrell family are dedicated, brilliant... and driven to the edge of destruction by a love no force can suppress.

Hodder Paperbacks

Sleepwalker

Karen Robards
Authors:
Karen Robards
Hodder Paperbacks

The Girl Behind the Mask

Stella Knightley
Authors:
Stella Knightley

Leaving the heartache of sexual betrayal behind her in London, historian Sarah Thomson intends to make the most of her research trip to Venice. But she soon finds her attention consumed by mysterious millionaire Marco Donato. Despite their deepening relationship, however, the handsome playboy persists in playing a secretive game. What exactly is Marco hiding?The subject of Sarah's research is eighteenth-century Venetian Luciana Giordano. At a time when debauchery is the city's favourite pastime, virginal Luciana is kept out of trouble by a zealous chaperone - until she meets a man who promises to help her escape her restraints. But just what does the worldly stranger want to teach her in return?

Hodder Paperbacks

Perdition

James Jackson
Authors:
James Jackson
Hodder Paperbacks

The Map of Lost Memories

Kim Fay
Authors:
Kim Fay

The one thing to remember about an adventure is that if it turns out the way you expect it to, it has not been an adventure at all . . .Shanghai, 1925.Irene, a museum curator (and, unofficially, a treasure hunter) is searching for a set of legendary copper scrolls which describe the forgotten history of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilisation. Her mentor has sent her to China to enlist the help of Simone, a mercurial Frenchwoman who - along with her notoriously violent husband, 'the most dangerous man in the Orient' - has a reputation for both stealing artefacts and starting revolutions. Irene and Simone set off through the Cambodian jungle to search for the scrolls, but it soon becomes clear that each is determined to acquire them for her own reasons, and that once they have located them it will be every woman for herself . . .Gripping, evocative, lavish and thrilling, this is an unforgettable book that was listed as one of Amazon's top 100 Breakthrough Novels before it was even finished.

Coronet

Love...From Both Sides

Nick Spalding
Authors:
Nick Spalding
Hodder Paperbacks

The Last Victim

Karen Robards
Authors:
Karen Robards

Dr Charlotte Stone sees what others do not.An expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. She's been obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes since she was sixteen, when a man butchered the family of her best friend Holly, then left the girl's body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.Charlie kept quiet about her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing it might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, she tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world.Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli suspects the Boardwalk Killer is back. A teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. With time running short for the innocent girl, Bartoli turns to the only person who could stop this vicious murderer.But Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her.

Two Roads

The Sea on Our Skin

Madeleine Tobert
Authors:
Madeleine Tobert
Hodder & Stoughton

Homecoming

Belva Plain
Authors:
Belva Plain