Hardcover: 362 pages
Publisher: Goldminds Publishing, LLC (May 20, 2014)
A young girl’s terrifying nightmare, five mysterious oil paintings and a red, flaming firebird all carry the same message:
Stand still, look up and let the funnel cloud suck you up inside.
It’s the last thing Juliana Birdsong wants to hear. Now a woman who’s losing everything, she’s still running from the dream, and it’s catching up fast. When her Alzheimer’s-stricken father’s canvases come to life exposing secrets, heartbreak and yearnings that mirror her own, Juliana discovers that some memories can be a blessing to forget.
Hit with devastating loss and betrayals, her old life stripped away, Juliana has no choice but to call on the person who’s never helped her before. Steering the chrome handlebars of a vintage motorcycle down a long, tapering highway, she must face her defining moment. It’s the only way she’ll gain the strength and courage to begin painting Juliana.
Buy, read, and discuss:
Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection, www.marthasjewelrycase.com.
With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.
Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.
Connect with Martha
As the daughter of a type-A, independent woman who is also a staunch feminist, and as someone who is all those things herself, it’s always a little bit difficult for me to empathize with the kind of women, who, like the Juliana we meet at the beginning of this novel, sublimate all their dreams and desires and let their husbands rule their lives.
For the first few chapters, then, I wanted to grab the lead character and shake some sense into her.
Then my mad “willful suspension of disbelief” skills took over, and I was able to simply experience her story, which is wonderfully told by author Martha Louise Hunter.
I particularly liked Juliana’s interactions with her Alzheimer’s-stricken father, and with her brother and his partner. Those two (three) relationships helped form the picture of how Juliana became the woman we first encounter, but also let us see that she really did have a core of steel, just just needed to use it.
Weaving through the novel was Juliana’s discovery of her father’s artwork, and her response to it, and her eventual assistance in giving him his art back, because while her father was painting pictures, it was very clear that Juliana was painting herself a whole new life.
Hunter’s characters and dialogue never felt flat or false, and even though I initially didn’t particularly like Juliana, I found myself rooting for her in the end, and even applauding her ballsy-est moves.
If you want a great summer read that has a bit more depth than the typical “beach novel,” but isn’t asking you to remember chunks of European history in order to follow the plot, and if you enjoy reading about adult women who reinvent themselves, this novel should appeal to you.
Goes well with anything Tex-Mex and a pitcher of margaritas.
This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours, who provided me with a copy of the book. For more information, and the list of tour stops, click HERE.