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LYNELLE BY THE SEA
by Laurie Lico Albanese
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From Publishers Weekly
The plot of Albanese's debut novel may remind readers of Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean, but Albanese blazes her own path through the familiar landscape of motherhood. Chapters alternate between the working-class vernacular of Lynelle Carter's earnest narration and the more distancing third-person portrayal of Annie Thompson's hectic family life. Lynelle, happily married to humble airport worker Hogan, loses her newborn baby to SIDS and descends into unassuageable grief. Her bereavement awakens memories of losing her beloved mother as a young girl, so she leaves Hogan and her New Jersey town to seek solitude and solace in her childhood home in Florida. Meanwhile, immersed in the frazzle and drudgery of child care for her three young offspring, Annie struggles to complete a graduate degree in social work, volunteer at a battered women's shelter and be a good wife to David. David callously dismisses his wife's work and dreams, as he dismissed her ambivalence about being pregnant with her unexpected third child, Dylan, now three months old. When Annie's father has a minor stroke, the Thompsons leave Illinois for Florida to help Annie's mother. Annie's and Lynelle's lives intersect when a distracted Annie leaves Dylan in his nine-year-old brother's care for a minute in a crowded crafts fair. Lynelle finds Dylan alone in the stroller and, in a moment of madness, kidnaps the baby. The ensuing nightmare for Annie and her family is contrasted with Lynelle's psychotic, dreamlike state during the baby's captivityAwhich, though short-lived, becomes an intense, life-changing drama for all involved. The denouement is resonant and charged with feeling, as Annie's newfound strength infuses her pain with compassion. The book slips into sentimentality at its epilogue, but for the most part it offers a resonant and complex portrayal of Annie and Lynelle coping with motherhood, loss and forgiveness. Agent, Angela Miller. BOMC alternate. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In her first novel, the talented Albanese weaves a poignant story of two women suddenly faced with the heartbreak of losing a child. Lynelle Carter's daughter, Grace, just two days old, dies of SIDS; then Lynelle, responding to her need for a baby, snatches Annie Thompson's three-month-old son Dylan from his stroller. Misguided but not malicious, Lynelle becomes obsessed with trying to reach the spirit of her own mother (also named Grace), who died when Lynelle was a child. Now doubly bereft and mourning, she sees the child whom she abducted as an answer to her prayers. The tale that follows shifts smoothly back and forth from Lynelle to Annie, as the author explores love, loss, justice, and forgiveness. A good read for women of all ages, it is well recommended.
-Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The New York Times Book Review
Strong...takes unexpected twists and turns.
Carrie Brown, author Rose's Garden and Lamb in Love
From "Lynelle by the Sea is a moving, merciful tale of two lives on a collision course for disaster. Laurie Lico Albanese understands the complex terrain of good and evil, and in her careful hands the drama of human frailty on heroic proportions."
A touching and beautifully written debut novel by a bright new star in women's fiction
Lynelle names her newborn daughter Grace after her own mother, who died when Lynelle herself was still a young child. Tragically, the joys of motherhood are shattered when Grace is found dead in her crib two mornings after her birth. Pierced by a renewed sense of loss, Lynelle flees her beloved husband and their home in New Jersey, and returns to Florida, seeking solace in the comfort of her childhood home.
Annie is the busy and over-stressed mother of a nine-year-old son, a five-year-old daughter, and an unexpected third child-three-month-old Dylan. She struggles to combine her career aspirations with the demands of her children, and with a marriage that suddenly seems out of balance. In Florida visiting her parents, Annie leaves Dylan alone with his brother for a moment under a tree near the beach. In that instant, Lynelle and Annie's lives become inexorably intertwined as Lynelle picks Dylan up from his stroller and walks away with him in her arms.
The story that unfolds explores the gut-wrenching depths of the emotional struggles these two women face, and examines the sustaining connections of family, love, and the power of loss.
About the Author
Laurie Lico Albanese is an editor and writer whose poems, short stories, and journalism have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Mothering magazine, among other publications. Lynelle by the Sea is her first novel.
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