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Blackbird Fly Paperback – June 9, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A literary suspense novel. A great deal goes into character growth and change, and McClendon's love for the French countryside is evident. BLACKBIRD FLY is a rewarding read for the discerning.
-- 
--The GenReview.com

The descriptions of the French village and house make them a character with very much influence on Merle's experience. Blackbird Fly has love and intrigue, and proof that family bonds are strong enough to reach beyond the grave. --Luxury Reading.com

"A heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, sisterhood, and the ties that bind us all together." --Jenny Siler, bestselling author

From the Author

A novel has a distinct setting but it's the people who drive the action. I wanted to write about a part of France many Americans have never heard of, let alone visited. Through the internet Americans living in France provided answers to my questions, sent me photos, became pen-pals and then friends. Generous and friendly to a fault, one new pen-pal lived in Bergerac at the time. Later she moved to the Lot, to Cahors then Puy-l'Évêque, and sent me missives describing her adventures. One delightful consequence of writing this novel was almost life-imitates-art when I finally met Sharon in France. What a treat to meet her and her friends and find out more about the expat experience in southwest France. A veteran renovator, Sharon informs me the pace of house repairs in Blackbird Fly is strictly imaginary. 

My research led me to seek out a picturesque bastide village. I used Monpazier as a home base, staying in the lovely Hotel Edward 1re. The village in the book, the completely fictional Malcouziac, is pretty but it is definitely not Monpazier. The only similarity is the structure of the bastide, the stone walls crumbling a bit, the hilltop location surrounded by vineyards and lush, tree-tangled ravines, the narrow pedestrian streets and half-renovated houses. Without the setting the story wouldn't have come alive in my imagination. When Merle Bennett dreams of France, she remembers the light: golden, warm, nourishing. And she can't stay away, even if it makes no practical sense to use her last nickel to go there. 


Here's how the publisher summed it up: "The sudden death of her husband turns Merle Bennett's life upside down. Her work for poor legal clients isn't going to pay the bills and her son is kicked out of school. The blows just keep on coming. Merle finds herself doing what she least expected, decamping to France for the summer to fix up her late husband's ancestral home. The village in southwest France should be idyllic: warm sunshine, vineyards, and walls of golden stone. Merle gets an off-the-books job as a tour guide at a local winery and evicts a squatter. But the townspeople are more than merely unfriendly. As the past unravels, colliding with modern tensions and the filthy trials of renovation, the summer takes on a dark cast, full of secrets best left buried. In her first stand-alone suspense novel, Lise McClendon reaches deep into the past to find a France untouched by the outside world of tourism and fashion. Writing in a 'lyrical, often humorous style,' she brings both the pain and rewards of rebirth and the rich French countryside to life."
Whether you look out your real window, or the window in your mind, I hope Blackbird Fly brings it all to life for you. Pour a glass of wine and enjoy.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Thalia Press (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981944272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981944272
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The new one is a Bennett Sisters novella - Give Him the Ooh-la-la! (Dec 2014) Merle and Pascal in New York City for the holidays, drag queens, wine, and misadventures!

The sequel to Blackbird Fly is here! The Girl in the Empty Dress finds Merle Bennett back in France, this time with all four of her sisters plus one friend. The friend, a law colleague of one sister, is moody and secretive and the Bennetts don't warm toward her. When she finds an injured dog along the roadside and determines to keep it, the walking tour of the Dordogne takes a dark and dangerous turn. Who is this dog everyone is after? And who is Gillian Sargent, the friend no one knows?

So exciting to be back in France again with the sisters. I did my own walking tour of France in 2012. It was much less exciting, but no more delightful, than the story told in The Girl in the Empty Dress.
---

Lise McClendon writes fiction from her home in Montana. She is the author of twelve novels, short stories, and articles. In 1997 she wrote and directed the short film, The Hoodoo Artist, featured at the Telluride Indiefest. She has served on the national boards of directors for Mystery Writers of America and International Association of Crime Writers/North America. She is on the faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and co-presents a novel workshop for writers.

Lise also writes under the pseudonym Rory Tate. Jump Cut (2011) and PLAN X (2013) are by Rory Tate.

"After thirty years writing fiction has become as necessary as breathing. Finding the essential story in the novel, chipping away the rock until the solid core is revealed, is an adventure and a joy."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 23, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Harry Strachie dies of a heart attack in the first pages. This starts a whole bunch of mysteries, lies, deceits, and intrigue. His wife and son are left without much but a key, a photo, and a deed to a house in France. Merle, his wife, and Tristan, his son, travel to France to see about selling the house. There is a squatter in the house, the people in the village don't like the Americans, some even seem to hate them. This is a fast moving story, with trips back in time to when Harry's parents lived in the house, and what happens then effects what is happening now. It is very well done, very well written, and the characters are very interesting, likeable, and you really care about them. There are dead bodies, lots of suspense and mystery, great characters, a bit of romance, but mostly it's just a great story! This is one of the best books I've read this year. You won't disappointed. I highly recommend it.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By hmulroney on April 17, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Blackbird Fly is a true delight. This clever story engaged me from the start because I am a middle age woman, a francophile and I love a mystery. Lise has definitely done her research and creates authentic and interesting characters. I was completely hooked on Blackbird Fly and enjoyed her play on words with the main character being named "Merle". Lise's narrative and dialogue both "take you there". I felt transported to a French provincial village and found all her characters fascinating and believable. I didn't want the story to end and would really love a sequel!
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Desert Girl on June 21, 2011
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I'm a Lise McClendon fan have read all of the Alix books. For me, this book started out a little slow, in fact, I almost didn't get back to it. But I'm glad I did. The story started moving along and I couldn't wait to continue reading.

I do recommend this book.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Cellist on March 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My book club decided this was basically a really good beach book. And that's not a bad recommendation! But what starts out as a novel of a woman of a certain age discovering herself turns into a crime novel. It was a fun read, but I think it would have been better just as a self-discovery novel. But for those who loved it, I think I detected the seeds of a sequel....!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By DKT on September 11, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't care for how it was written and I forced myself to finish it. First half of the book I felt she scrambled to grab and tuck in every descriptive word she knew, it moved extremely slow & she had no focus/ game-plan to weave a flowing story ~ just a punch-list of ideas she chucked at us. Second half of the book there is a definite change of pace & "style". It felt to me as if she had taken a substantial break, reread the first part & didn't want to change it so she did the best she could to repair it and allow it to flow or someone else stepped in, helped her finish and kept her a bit more focused. A frustrating read for me because she really had a fascinating foundation for a story that could have been a page-turner. By the end of a book a reader's thoughts should be with the characters, my focus was wondering about the author/authors and how this all played out behind the scenes as it was being written & edited. To me that's not how I like to arrive at the last page.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kathy Broyles on May 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an enjoyable page turning mystery with wonderful and vivid descriptions of France and the French people. Makes me want to go there and visit. In my opinion, this is the best novel Lise McClendon has written.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ruthmary Lovitt on June 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had fun reading this book! There were times when I couldn't put it down. Lise McClendon has done a masterful job of weaving an intriguing and unexpected web, keeping the reader begging for more. She does a great job of character development -- you feel like you know them. There's a fascinating mixture of characters, and this novel truly has every ingredient a reader enjoys from murder to adventure to romance. The author's descriptions vividly transported me to each and every place in the book. You can't go wrong with this book -- great for a long plane ride, an extended rainy afternoon, or a few days in bed with your morning coffee.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By L.I. LINDA on August 18, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
after reading the blurb about this novel,i said,"chick lit."it was definitely not that. lise mcclendon has written has excellent story.it qualifies as 21st century literary fiction.the characters are believable and the plot is very interesting.
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