This novel does the seemingly impossible: it delivers the story of a woman who enters an abusive relationship in a way that promotes empathy. There is no victim blaming here. Missen enables her readers to understand the historical and biographical threads that weave some women into relationships with dangerous men. All the while that readers are shouting for our protagonist to RUN, we also understand the socialization that enables/encourages women to stay. This is a particularly useful book for Women’s Studies courses, and the fact that it is based on a true story makes it resonate with readers on several levels. Missen does her readers proud with this sensitive and gripping narrative.
—Donna Decker, professor of English and women’s studies at Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire.
You danced your way through a tangle of issues with such skill and heart. A good mystery, a good story, good characters and many twists. But also many levels of awareness being addressed, a gentle yet anxious narrative, feminine angles balanced with masculine. You have many points of view brought to serious consideration in the mystery but also in life. Reading this book actually takes the reader through a healing process that is hard to name, but very important. I hope the book goes far because it has a strong yet gentle transformation built in. Well done!
It’s excellent, superb, engrossing–very very capably handled. And the way it portrays the eventual victim’s choices, and the narrator’s own, which sort of mirror them, brings the story to a level that might make you question things like your own vulnerability, or the judgements that spring to mind when you read a newspaper item about a crime or a court case.
I have read your novel and found it fascinating. I loved your study of Lucy’s character and her journey and your imagining that she had found peace and forgiveness for her mother at the last.
It was wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. It was a phenomenal read and a moving story, beautifully told. I’ll have to read it again to better appreciate the writing, but the narrative was so strong I couldn’t wait to know what happened.
—Elaine Sullivan Butcher
Was very tired this morning. I started this book on the GO Train last night, arrived home after 10 and continued to read until 1 this morning. Up at 6 to get the 7 am VIA train and kept reading until I arrived at Union Station. Wondered if I locked my office door if anyone would notice I was in there reading and not working!!! I finished the book this evening. What a great read!!!!
I finished the novel on the train returning to Kingston from Toronto and finally started to breathe normally. I am soooo impressed. Just had to let you know… it is a winner!!!
I loved it! A real page turner, thoughtful and so interesting to read something from the perspective of a narrator who feels a bit like me and my friends, —having thoughts and feelings, reactions and experiences like our own. Our voice being reflected in a story. Reading it was a way cool experience!
I read your book and was spellbound…at many levels. You did a first-rate job mixing fact with fiction with what must have been an extremely difficult subject for you.
I read your book last week, honestly couldn’t put it down! It was terrific… well written, and totally drew me in! It’s been a while since I read a book that I couldn’t wait it to finish, yet I didn’t want it to end! Congrats on a fabulous read… I will definitely be passing around my copy!
The book is intriguingly complex, the structure of two stories keeps us watching for similarities/differences as your meditation on the nature of Man and Woman, and on the difficulties and pleasures of the relationships between them, evolves like a DNA molecule. Told with an authorial voice which is alternately teasingly arch and charmingly vulnerable. The ending says something true and inspiring about humans being able and willing to give others a second chance, to forgive themselves as well as others, to go on trying. I liked that too.
This is a riveting story with all of the requisite suspense and intrigue of a brutal murder played out in this world and a world of dreams and the departed. For me the centre-piece was the masterful portrayal of the relationship between Lucy and Tim: two complex and volatile (and sometimes violent) personalities united in a tragically unrequited journey in search of self and (or is it ‘through’?) another. I had actually come to feel like I was in the minds and yes, even the souls, of Tim and Lucy. I rarely re-read novels but this is one that I will pick up again. I’m sure that there is a lot that I missed. But I’ll wait for a while as I’m still recovering from the sleep deprivation from my first read: I just couldn’t put this book down! (For the full review on Amazon.ca, click here.)
I think you did an excellent job capturing Louise’s personality, the mood of the whole situation, and bound it together effectively with the fictional story. Your writing is clear, dynamic and nicely spiced with little surprises here and there. I loved it!
—Dee Dee Blake (a close friend of the late Louise Ellis, the inspiration for Lucy Stockman)
I found the story compelling. The characters were well developed, believable and easy to empathize with. I liked it that it wasn’t predictable. There was just enough of the supernatural and romantic elements to make it interesting, but not overpowering and hokey. I have and will continue to recommend it to friends.
I’m completely engrossed in the story—and its not the kind of story I usually read. The story unfurls with a well-crafted sense of timing, suspense-building and character development. There is a maturity in your writing, and in the structure of the story, that is more than I expected—more than could be expected—from a first novel. You should definitely think of writing more novels.
I just finished reading your book this morning. Wow! I was so captivated by this book—you have told a remarkable story, and you wrote it in such a way as to give Louise a voice, and to present her story with such dignity and grace. You are a terrific writer, and wove a thoughtful and compassionate tale about such a monumental event in your life. Congratulations to you for writing such a fabulous book (which I could not put down)! I am totally swept away!
It was an incredible read! I really enjoy your writing style. Your insights about control and violence in relationships were most accurate. The issues surrounding power and control are indeed complex—especially relating to why women remain in abusive relationships. I would be delighted to assist you with a book signing in our area. It would be awesome to partner with you on this mutual issue.
—Mary Zilney MSW, RSW, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region
Brenda Missen’s novel is a masterful, well crafted narrative that intrigues and captivates from the first sentences. The reader is immediately engrossed in a threatening aura of darkness and tension as the story of Lucy’s ill-fated love affair with a brutal criminal unfolds. While skilfully weaving present with past—the ongoing police investigation against the harsh truths about Lucy’s tragic demise—the author deftly maintains suspense with clues and insights presented in careful progression. With clear-sighted realism about human nature, Missen shows that terrifying flaws often lie hidden, that naivety may exact a tragic toll, and that relationships may be both complex and cruel. Only the author’s unwavering empathy redeems the harsh truths about the suffering that Lucy endured. The author reveals a thoughtful and mature view of our modern world, and she narrates with amazing finesse. Missen’s first novel reveals a remarkable ability to intrigue, entertain and enlighten the reader.
This is a cliche, but once I picked it up I could not put it down. It’s a huge piece of work, lovely, realistic dialogue on every page. I’m always interested to learn more about how women’s minds (and feelings) work—so different from the working of men’s minds, and there is much of this in your novel, so well described. A really good novel should not only entertain us, but also leave us wiser, and you score high on this scale.
I found your book very moving and painful all at the same time. I was taken back in time to my friendship with Louise. I hung onto every word you wrote. I was completely involved in a sickening way as the portrayal of her was profound and true to life. I hope if there are any women out there who live in fear, they feel empowered by your writing.
—A friend of Louise Ellis’s
Thank you Brenda for the beautifully told story of Louise Ellis. I would think that you wrestled with yourself and Louise too, as you gave clarity to her voice, kindness to her life and compassion to her spirit.
Missen authentically captures Lucy’s heart and mind. Going beyond the stereotypical portrayal of a victim, Missen explores Lucy’s depths as a woman who is successful, strong willed, loving, angry, afraid and courageous as she searches for truth and love in herself and within her relationships. An important book in enlightening us to our human journey in the midst of what is often reduced too quickly to victim and perpetrator.
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Tell Anna. It is incredibly well done—the layers of insights and relationship subtleties are very engaging. It is one of those books that I didn’t want to end. So, thank you for a wonderful read.
I read your book in 24 hours. It is so rich. I read so much mystery fiction and your book is one of my top reads this year! Thank you for creating such interesting characters, and reflecting a glorious Canadian setting without being cute or patronizing.
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