ANNA QUINDLEN is the author of two other bestselling novels, Object Lessons and One True Thing. Her New York Times column, "Public & Private," won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and a selection of these columns was published as Thinking Out Loud. She is also the author of a collection of her "Life in the 30's" columns, Living Out Loud, and two children's books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After. She lives in New York City.
It is easy to forget that Black and Blue is a novel. It reads more like a confessional piece - a story unable to be contained any longer; an exorcising of demons. This is indicative of the lack of a literary style, but also the authentic voice the author has achieved. The story, like the narrator's thoughts, darts back and forth, only gradually confronting the full horror and implications of an abusive relationship. Frances has been abused by husband Bobby since she was 19. Eventually, she decides to leave with her precious son, knowing the danger they will be in if Bobby finds them. An underground organisation forges a new, secret life for her, but the woman in charge is as paternalistic and controlling as Bobby had been in determining how Frances, now Beth, should live. When it seems she has jeopardised her anonymity and is instructed by the underground to move again, Beth decides to assert control, and remains in the town where she is building a new life for herself and her son. Ultimately, she pays a high price for doing so, but gains from the decision too. A US bestseller, this novel is realistic about the complex issues surrounding domestic abuse, and raises (but does not try to solve) the unanswerable questions. Lorien Kaye is an editorial assistant at D W Thorpe. C. 1998 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors
YA‘This powerfully written story grips readers from the very first page. Fran and Bobby are crazy about one another from the moment they first meet, but his violent nature reveals itself even before they are married. Later, the "accidents" become more and more frequent and harder to hide: a broken collarbone, a split lip, a black eye. Finally, Fran escapes the abusive marriage, but by then she is damaged both inside and out. Assisted by a group that aids battered women, she flees with her 10-year-old son, Robert, who knows the truth but is reluctant to believe that the father who loves him so much could beat his mother so badly. Fran begins a new life with a new identity, but she lives in fear, knowing that Bobby won't rest until he finds them. Also, Robert longs for his father. Love between parent and child, coming to grips with the difference between passion and love, the importance of honesty in relationships, and self-knowledge as an essential part of healing‘YAs can learn much about these and other themes in this novel about a shattered family and a strong woman determined to rebuild her life.‘Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA
Fran Benedetto has had enough of her self-centered husband's brutality. Though Fran has long loved Bobby passionately, his roughhousing turned into abuse early in their marriage, when the stress of his police career began taking its toll. Fran's concern about the situation's effects on Robert, her too-quiet ten-year-old, together with a particularly vicious battering, goads her to run. An underground organization helps her flee with Robert to a small Florida town, where she begins a new life as "Beth Crenshaw." At first the fugitives are miserable, but gradually they settle into the community with a kind of family normalcy they have never experienced. As Fran/Beth strains to make a home, she also struggles with her beliefs about family, love, and her own identity. And, during every seemingly safe moment among her new friends, she lives with the fear of discovery and its possibly lethal consequences. Quindlen (One True Thing, LJ 9/15/94) has created in her third novel a well-paced narrative whose themes reflect important contemporary social concerns. Though Fran's internal musings sometimes slow down the action noticeably, and the crucial character of Bobby is a one-dimensional sketch, the book's pluses will outweigh its drawbacks for most readers of popular fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/97.]‘Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, Va.
After two fine earlier efforts, Object Lessons and One True Thing, Quindlen has written her best novel yet in this unerringly constructed and paced, emotionally accurate tale of domestic abuse. Her protagonist is Frannie Benedetto, a 37-year-old Brooklyn housewife, mother and nurse who finally finds the courage to escape from her violent husband Bobby, a New York City cop. Under an assumed identity in a tacky central Florida town, Frannie and her 10-year-old son, Robert, attempt to build a new life, but there is a price to pay, and when it comes, it carries the heartstopping logic of inevitability and the irony of fate. Quindlen establishes suspense from the first sentence and never falters. She cogently explores the complex emotional atmosphere of abuse: why some women cling to the memory of their original love and wait too long to break free. She makes palpable Frannie's fear, pain, self-contempt and, later, guilt over depriving Robert of the father he adores. As Frannie and Robert make tentative steps in their new community, Quindlen conveys their sense of dislocation and anxiety compounded by their sense of loss. Weaving the domestic fabric that is her forte, she flawlessly reproduces the mundane dialogue between mother and son, between Frannie and the friends she makes and the people she serves in her new job as a home health-care aide. Among the triumphs of Quindlen's superb ear for voices is the character of an elderly Jewish woman whose moribund husband is Frannie's patient. Above all, Quindlen is wise and humane. Her understanding of the complex anatomy of marital relationships, of the often painful bond of maternal love and of the capacity to survive tragedy and carry on invest this moving novel with the clarion ring of truth. Literary Guild selection; Random House audio; author tour. (Feb.)
"Intimate and illuminating and, as is true of most anything Quindlen writes, well worth the read."--People
Heartbreaking.--Time Beautifully paced--keeps the
reader anxiously turning the pages.--New York Times Book
Review A gut-wrencher--another stunner.--Denver Post
Impossible to put down--the tension is both awful and
mesmerizing.--St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Engrossing--compassionate and tense.--New York Times Her best
novel yet.--Publishers Weekly Absolutely believable--Quindlen
writes with power and grace.--Boston Globe A moving
A selection of the Literary Guild and Oprah's Book Club