This novel serves up funk and sassy, Florida Panhandle style. Connie May Fowler starts slowly and seductively. Rather sanguine, at first I found myself waiting for the fly to go away (you have to read to understand!) and then for the ghosts to either make themselves known or jump out of the novel. The fact that Clarissa, a normal, married woman writer joined to a man who doesn’t work (he’s a do nothing “artiste” in the worst way) – and the fact that she hears voices and lures flies and ghosts into her world twists this book toward an Alice Hoffman quality. The magic coalesces, but slowly.
Clarissa has writers’ block. After two very successful novels, she can’t write. Her past has become her present – she is once again the ugly little bucktoothed girl of childhood. Her Afrikaner husband Iggy does porn and nude models, pretending to paint them before he beds them. When Clarissa moves to Hope, Florida, she buys an old plantation like mansion once owned by a Spanish woman named Olga Villada, her free black husband and her young son, Heart Villada Archer. Unknown to Clarissa, they haunt the mansion after a terrible tragedy and the ghosts empathize but cannot help Clarissa. Toss in Ms. Lottie, Clarrisa’s mentor in becoming an assertive woman, a deranged angel named Larry Dribble, a huge sentinel oak and Clarissa’s life sprouts like the burning bush. Throw in a Dwarf’s Carnival, a car called the Yellow Canary, and this novel starts to Fannie Flagg all over the place. Oh, and then there are Clarissa’s internal Ovarian women, parts of her that fear everything and talk so loudly Clarissa begins to hate them; and her Deepak Chakra persona that won’t let her get away with negative thoughts. A dash of her friend and fellow writer, Adams, and this novel sets a celestial path into the reincarnation of ordinary Clarissa into La Wanda the Warrior Woman.
Fun, thoughtful, sad, and happy and at times a reflection of women everywhere, when Clarissa Burden learns to fly, we soar right along with her. Clever and well crafted, with enough strange and magical occurrences to keep us reading, this is an unusual and fascinating book. Not, however, as magical as I would have liked.
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is available at Amazon.com $16.31
Thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing this title for our book review as well as this giveaway. We were in no way paid or compensated for our opinions.
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