the League of Canadian Poets

I sit here in front of my computer unsure where to begin this review, should I begin with the story in the book, or the story about the book. As both are compelling tales!

Throwing reviewing convention out of the window I think I will begin at the end. Mary Patrick Kavanaugh is without doubt a highly creative lady, over the years I have come across all sorts of unique marketing strategies, but I have never seen Mary’s used before. Having labored tirelessly on her autobiographical novel she discovered the harsh reality of the publishing industry, it is next to impossible for a first time author to find a publisher willing to take the chance on an unknown.

I have heard countless authors relate this sad situation to me. One author friend of mine claims that he spent more time looking for a publisher than he did writing the book. In a classic demonstration of masochism he decorated his office with the rejection letters! Mary submitted her book to exactly 16 New York based publishers, and received exactly 16 rejections.

Her dream of landing that perfect publishing contract was shattered, writing it seemed was just another fork in the road of life that was a dead end. Mary decided that if the project was indeed dead, then it should be given an appropriate send off, a funeral to mark the end of yet another idea. She even invited the companies that had rejected her manuscript. You can read all of the gory details on her web site.

Her eventual solution was to take the path that many first time authors take, self publish, and so, Family Plots finally made it to the virtual bookshelves of Amazon and others.

With a background like that who could resist reading the book? Billed as an autobiographical novel, Mary has taken some of the key events of her life and with a certain amount of embellishment created a rich word canvas.

There is humor, although I am not sure that I agree with the rear cover quote of laugh-out-loud, the humor is of the very dark, gallows variety.

The quality of writing is very high, and her development of characters and circumstance masterful.

Our heroine Mary comes off one failed relationship only to seemingly rebound into another ‘marriage’ destined for oblivion. Dan at first glance seems like the catch of the decade, suave, debonair, oozing charm and money. However it gradually becomes clear that Dan is not all that he seems, his business partners leave much to be desired, and while he is always flush with money, the source of his income is somewhat mysterious.

Scheme after scheme to make ‘the big killing’ come to naught. Partners who are embezzling funds, dubious legal banking practices, strange meetings in strange places all weigh heavily on Mary. Although she wants to confront her nightmares, Dan is a master of deflection, and able to forestall her efforts at every turn, persuading her instead ‘to stand by her man’.

Piece by small piece Mary begins to put the jigsaw puzzle together, but it is a long and laborious process. Just as she seems to be making headway, another calamity comes raining down, Dan has cancer. Will she ever find the answers she seeks?

Family Plots also contains a number of curious sub plots, both Mary’s and Dan’s parents provide adventures into the improbable. Dan’s parents Ralph and Minnie in particular are an adventure into eccentricity and dark family secrets.

This book is well worth seeking out, I found it to be a delightful read. Ms. Kavanaugh claims that about two thirds of the book is based on actual events, all I can say is that she has led a pretty interesting life. You can get your copy from Amazon, or from her very amusing web site.

(Originally published at Blogger News Network and reprinted with permission from the author, Simon Barrett).

About the Author: Simon Barrett is the senior editor for Blogger News Net and maintains a personal blog at Simon B. Now semi retired in the depths of Mississippi he has plenty of time to read books by up and coming authors.


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