I’m really excited to be presenting the first chapter of Linda Barrett’s new novel Family Interruped, and to tell you my thoughts about it. But first…
About the book, Family Interrupted:
Two years after their 12 year old daughter’s accidental death by a motorist, Claire and Jack Barnes go through the motions of celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. When artist Claire produces her gift–a full-scale oil painting of their daughter–Jack has had enough. With his daughter gone, his wife focused on the past and his 20 year old son living on his own, Jack feels like a stranger in his own home and moves out the day after the party.
Claire understands they’re heading for divorce. Two days later, when she’s alone in the house, a young woman comes to the door and hands over her infant. This is their son’s baby. The girl says, “I told Ian she’d be too much work, and I’ve got other plans.” She disappears. Ian is ready to put the baby up for adoption because his daughter deserves a good, solid family, better than what the Barneses have become. Jack and Claire must figure out what to do next.
Intersecting the main stories of the Barnes family is the subplot involving the driver of the car. No alcohol, no speeding involved. But guilt seeps into the driver’s soul and changes her life. Who will forgive this woman?
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About the author, Linda Barrett:
Linda Barrett is the author of 13 novels of contemporary romance. She’s earned many industry awards through Romance Writers of America, including the Holt Medallion, The Award of Excellence and the Write Touch Reader’s award. Family Interrupted is her first women’s fiction story. A graduate of Hunter College, Linda now lives in the Tampa area with her husband. They have three grown sons and the most adorable, intelligent, super-duper grandchildren ever!
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My Thoughts on the First Chapter of Family Interrupted
You can’t really judge a whole novel from one chapter, but if the first chapter of Family Interrupted really is representational of the rest of the book, I can’t imagine not liking it. Sure, on the surface the subject is grim: a couple recovering from the death of their twelve-year-old daughter and trying not to let their marriage go down the tubes, but really, that’s just the background. The rest of the story is one of finding yourself when the thing that used to define you suddenly…doesn’t.
I like the way Barrett writes – her language is vivid, but still accessible. I also like that she’s not afraid to use touches of humor. One of the gritty realities of life is that grief and laughter are often inextricably intertwined (to borrow a Douglas Adams phrase I’ve loved since I was thirteen). Laughter through tears is a core part of that, just as grinning through a fight, or weeping after sex are both normal reactions for some of us.
Ultimately, I can’t know from one chapter what will happen with Claire, but I do know that in Barrett’s deft hands the story will be interesting, compelling, and really real.
Read the First Chapter of Family Interrupted
“Bellisima! Brava! Your best work yet, Signora Barnes. Maybe you give Leonardo some competition?”
I rolled my eyes and grinned at my instructor. “Leonardo can rest easy.”
Dr. Colombo teased, exhorted, or flirted with his students on a regular basis, especially the talented ones, but comparing my work to the Mona Lisa was going far, even for this powerhouse.
I stepped away from my easel and focused on a portrait of a young girl peeking sideways under half-closed lids. I’d called it, GIRL WITH SECRETS. The child held secrets I wanted to know.
“Your daughter, yes?” Colombo asked, his voice a deep rumble.
DNA didn’t lie. I nodded and said, “On the outside, Kayla’s mine, brown eyes and blonde hair, but inside, she’s her dad, an unquenchable extrovert. Sometimes, my daughter’s surrounded by more friends than my house can hold.” My pride in Kayla overrode the mock complaint. “She’s twelve-and-a-half, almost a teenager—almost grown up—as she likes to remind me.”
“Ah-h.” He sighed as if he understood. “I have two daughters, Signora, and I know how they too much wanted to be women, but were not ready, never ready in the eyes of their mama.”