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Bent Road Hardcover – March 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (March 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951834
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,148,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in the mid '60s, Roy's outstanding debut melds strong characters and an engrossing plot with an evocative sense of place. When Negro boys start phoning Elaine, Arthur Scott's teenage daughter, Arthur decides it's time to leave Detroit and return to the small Kansas town that he left 20 years earlier after his sister Eve's mysterious death. His wife, Celia, resents the move that will put her close to in-laws she barely knows and that will change her family dynamic. That Arthur's younger daughter, Eve-ee, resembles her late aunt unsettles Arthur's older sister, Ruth, and Ruth's husband, Ray, who have never seen Eve-ee before. When a neighbor's child disappears, suspicion uncomfortably settles on Ray, who was suspected in Eve's death. Roy couples a vivid view of the isolation and harshness of farm life with a perceptive look at the emotions that can rage beneath the surface. This Midwestern noir with gothic undertones is sure to make several 2011 must-read lists. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Review

''Bent Road is a remarkably assured debut novel. Rich and evocative, Lori Roy's voice is a welcome addition to American fiction.'' --Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author of Mystic River and Shutter Island

''In her promising debut novel Bent Road, Lori Roy proves that dark secrets hide even in the most wide-open places. Set in the beautifully rendered Kansas plains, Bent Road is a family story with a suspenseful gothic core, one which shows that the past always has a price, whether you're running from it or back toward it. Crisp, evocative prose, full-blooded characters, and a haunting setting make this debut stand out.'' --Michael Koryta, author of Tonight I Said Goodbye

''Dropping us in a world of seeming simplicity, in a time of seeming calm, Lori Roy transforms 1960s small-town Kansas into a haunting memoryscape. Bringing to mind the family horrors of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres and the dark emotional terrain of Tana French's In the Woods, Bent Road manages to be both psychologically acute and breathtakingly suspenseful, burrowing into your brain with a feverish power all its own.'' --Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning novelist

''Roy's outstanding debut melds strong characters and an engrossing plot with an evocative sense of place . . . . Roy couples a vivid view of the isolation and harshness of farm life with a perceptive look at the emotions that can rage beneath the surface. This Midwestern noir with gothic undertones is sure to make several 2011 must-read lists.'' --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

''A tale of extraordinary emotional power, one of longstanding pain set against the pulsating drumbeat of social change, a rhythm the Scott family wishes could be ignored but which affects them regardless.'' --NPR.org

''This tautly written, chilling piece of heartland noir is . . . an impressive debut. Roy takes a bucolic setting--rural Kansas--and makes it an effective stage for a suspenseful tale of tragedy and dread . . . Bent Road is rich in sensory details . . . that anchor the story in its place and time. Roy populates that world with a believable cast of characters, deftly marrying a story of domestic violence and familial love with a gothic mystery that is compelling at each turn of the page.'' --St. Petersburg Times

''Roy's exceptional debut novel is full of tension, complex characters, and deftly gothic overtones. Readers of Tana French's In the Woods will find this dark and satisfying story a great read. Highly recommended.'' --Library Journal (starred review)

''Roy's suspenseful debut novel presents readers with a rich mix of troubled characters planted against the backdrop of a small Kansas farming town and the mysterious deaths of two young girls . . . This odd, dark, and often creepy tale of a dysfunctional community and a family that fits right in will keep readers wondering right until the last page.'' --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

Lori Roy was born and raised in the Midwest where she attended and graduated from Kansas State University. Her work has appeared in the Chattahoochee Review. She currently lives with her family in west central Florida. Bent Road is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

I needed to get this book.
Attack Cat On Duty!
I just didn't buy the whole story and found it to be a tedious read that I ended up skimming just to finish.
Hockey Mom
This book was very well written.
southpaw

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on April 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
BENT ROAD is a difficult book to wedge into any particular genre other than "fiction." And that's a good thing. There is a mystery at the heart of it, a bit of romance, and some coming-of-age and coming-to-terms elements, but debut author Lori Roy has created a work that is more of a dark parable than a tale designed for entertainment or amusement. As such, it haunts throughout and long after the final page is read. It is reminiscent, in one sense, of Thomas Wolfe's YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, though it perhaps contains a rejoinder to that title along the lines of "Oh. Really? Try to leave."

Indeed, it begins with the Scott family --- husband Arthur, wife Celia, daughters Elaine and Evie, and son Daniel --- returning in 1967 to Arthur's home in rural Kansas, the home he fled some 20 years before. The riots in their hometown of Detroit have prompted the move, but the Scotts discover they are trading one set of problems for another.

Little has changed since Arthur left his home on Bent Road following the mysterious and unsolved death of his sister, Eve. Her passing occurred shortly before she was married to Ray, and the locals have cast a suspicious eye on him, even after he married Ruth, Eve and Arthur's sister, in Eve's place. Ray nonetheless has been sinking into an alcoholic moroseness in the intervening period, interrupted only by explosive incidents where his temper has manifested itself with increasingly violent beatings visited upon Ruth. Almost immediately after the Scotts return, however, an incident involving another young girl --- this one gone missing --- awakens the memory of the prior tragedy, and suspicion is cast upon Ray once again.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on April 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
What a fantastic book! It brings to mind the feelings evoked when seeing "American Gothic" in person. Sure, it looks like a simple painting, but underneath simmers an entire world of secrets and lies. It starts with a fairly simple premise: a family moves from Detroit to rural Kansas, the home of the patriarch Arthur Scott. While there he must face the past he ran away from and the present that may prove even more toxic.

The writing paints a vivid picture. I could see everything happen so clearly, playing like a movie in my head. Stick Kate Winslet in there, and you have an Oscar winner. It's gritty. It's real. Yet despite all the tragedy and heartache, there still lies a real sense of hope in the end. There's just the whisper of a chance that maybe this family will get past this, break the cycle, and make a better life for themselves and their community.

I highly recommend this book. Lori Roy was able to find the beauty in the stark reality of this family. I was left wanting to know more about their future and past. I will definitely look for more from this author.

Copy of this book won in a First Reads contest.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on May 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Arthur Scott left rural Kansas for the big city shortly after the death of his sister Eve. Now husband to Celia and father of three, he decides that Detroit holds too many dangers for his children, and moves back to the family farm on Bent Road. It's a huge change for Celia, who must cope with the brutality of life and death on a farm, and the interference of her mother-in-law. Her eldest daughter is happy, having fallen for the young hired hand. But the two younger Scotts have trouble making friends, and 14-year-old Daniel, who feels like a disappointment to his father, is searching desperately for ways to prove he's a man. Little Eve-ee, named for her deceased aunt, deals with her loneliness by shutting herself up in her
room and playing with with the elder Eve's beautiful dresses, which still hang in her closet. Eve's death, an apparent murder, still haunts the town, and when a young girl disappears, folks believe that the same man who killed Eve has struck again. That man is Ray, Eve's former fiance. Now married to Eve's sister Ruth, "everyone knows" he's guilty, and living under that suspicion has ruined his life, turning him into a drunken wife beater. But now Ruth has her brother Arthur to defend her.

Bent Road is the story of a buried family secret, and the powers of destruction that such secrets hold. From the opening pages, a sense ofgrim foreboding takes hold and never lifts. Life on the farm is ordinary, filled with pies and casseroles, visits from the priest, and snowstorms. But death and violence are major themes, and the feeling that something is not right hangs like a pall; when the truth emerges, the repercussions are enormous, and not just for the Scotts. Atmospheric and haunting, Bent Road is an outstanding first novel, written with skill and subtlety.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on September 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This rather strained, unconvincing novel asks the reader to accept that Arthur Scott has become so disturbed by civil unrest in 1960's Detroit, his home for twenty years, that he gathers his family - wife Celia and children Elaine, Daniel, and Evie - and returns to rural Kansas, the scene of an event in his life so terrible that he has never so much as visited in all these years.

The rural scene that the Scott's are suddenly thrust into is dark and foreboding: huge, wind-blown tumbleweeds racing beside a car at night seeming to appear as monsters, blind spots on unpaved roads, wild plants that can poison, chickens having their necks wrung as a matter of course, and snows capable of collapsing a residence. But most dramatic is the disappearance of a young girl, who eerily resembles Evie, which unleashes comparisons with the mysterious death of Arthur's older sister Eve, another Evie lookalike, some twenty-five years prior.

Typical rural claustrophobia is certainly evident: outsiders are resented, secrets don't last long, and unacceptable behaviors, like skipping church services, are sure to be rebuked. In the author's telling, in times of difficulty, even within families, exchanges are fraught with abruptness, misunderstanding, criticism, insensitivity, and can quickly turn violent. Her characters are unwilling or incapable of relieving pressures that have built among them.

Any efforts to resolve the mysteries are waylaid by the overall awkwardness and cluelessness of scenario after scenario. The writing is rather plain, often concerned with the banalities of everyday life: baking strawberry pies or Celia botching another country recipe. The characters are poorly developed: what makes them tick; are they educated; what are they thinking. A few compelling moments involving some of them can only go part way in rescuing this minimally conceived novel. In so far as the novel has legitimacy, it is an especially disheartening few of rural life.
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