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Blameless: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (April 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375504052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375504051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,411,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Penzler Pick, June 2000: After reading a strong debut, I am always eager to see the author's next offering. Will it live up to the potential of that first book, or will that book remain a flash of brilliance, never to be equaled? No worries here. Reardon's first book, Billy Dead, was an outstanding first novel in a year of excellent first novels, and her second book more than confirms that we have a major new talent in our midst.

While not a mystery in the strictest sense of the word, there is a killing. Blameless, however, is not about who did it, or even why. It is about the effect that killing has on one member of the community: the woman who discovered the body. Mary Culpepper, a school-bus driver, is strong, fearless, independent, and seemingly in command of her life. Sure, her husband left her for her best friend, but she's over that, and when the novel opens, Mary is waiting to testify in the death of one of her charges. She will have to take the stand and tell what she witnessed. As Mary tries to keep her mind off the upcoming trial, she enters into an affair with a local guy who plays softball with her. A dream man, except that he's the father of another of her charges.

All this drama does nothing to keep away the Night Visitor, the stone monster who, each night, climbs onto Mary's chest and destroys her sleep. As we get to know Mary, we understand that she, like many of us, chooses very carefully what she does and does not witness. Layer by layer, Reardon peels away the protective covering that Mary has grown until the explosive finale when Mary will have to come to terms with her past and the way she has chosen to live her life. This novel explores moral accountability and the way we all look away from what we don't want to see, and in that way Blameless is both profoundly disturbing and utterly compelling. --Otto Penzler

From Publishers Weekly

Again basing her fiction in a small, blue-collar community, the author of the well-received Billy Dead has produced an insightful, empathetic novel about a woman coming to terms with her past. Divorced at 34, Mary Culpepper drives a school bus in a working-class town in northern Michigan and reigns as the leading hitter on the local softball team. She has also recently returned from a short stay in a psychiatric ward after a nervous breakdown she cannot explain to her family and friends, or to herself. A lifetime of repressed grief and anger lies beneath her insouciant attitude, and struggles to find expression. Reardon reveals crucial information about Mary's life in small increments, generating a fine narrative tension. Mary's best friend, Amy, married Carl, Mary's former husband, after a year-long clandestine affair, and Mary, unable to confront either of them, vowed to remain friends, even serving as Amy's bridesmaid. Mary's relationship with her mother and two younger sisters is also filled with secrets and unspoken resentment. She keeps all three at arm's length, unable to face her feelings of failure or to address the memories of her past: as a child she went bar-hopping with her philandering father; later, she was traumatized by a botched abortion. Mary finds a soulmate in one of her school-bus charges, 12-year-old Julianna. But when she meets Julianna's father, John Coleros, she gives in to the powerful force of mutual attraction. Other tensions include the death of a six-year-old girl, whose body Mary discovered on her bus route. Mary's testimony at the ensuing trial, coupled with a tragic accident that decides the outcome of her relationship with John, provides the catalyst she needs to finally address her pain and anger. Her struggle to learn emotional honesty and responsibility makes Mary a compelling heroine, and the many details of small-town life (bread-baking competitions, softball leagues, card games at the neighborhood bar) add texture to the narrative. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. 4-city author tour. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This the beach book of the summer.
Lisette Garcia
This search for truth is, in the end very compelling, and an important read for anyone looking for similar things in their life.
K. Fromal
I really connected with some of the parts of this story, and enjoyed the characters.
R.K.M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! Mary is a 34-year old divorcee, strong, athletic, living in the same small town where she grew up, driving the school bus, and having Sunday dinners (every Sunday night!) with her Mom and sisters. And is now anxiously awaiting the upcoming trial of Jen Colby's mother when she must testify to finding the little girl's dead boy in a closet. Mary cannot recall seeing any signs of abuse of Jen, the six-year-old who rode her bus, yet the "Night Visitor" shows up and greatly disturbs her sleep. Reardon's writing is compelling as Mary's story unfolds, revealing other issues she has suppressed in her life. I came to love Mary and feel her story ends on a huge note of hope. She has shown us that our friendships and relationships require attention and responsibility and can survive the truth.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A recent review of Blameless said it was complex in its simplicity. How true. Lisa takes seemingly simple people, in seemingly simple settings and through her masterful use of language and storytelling ability, reveals all the complexity of the human experience. She has created characters so real you know them, whether you live in a small town in northern Michigan or a Los Angela suburb. We recognize these people; we identify with them, we root for them, and ultimately learn from them. I loved this book; and like other well loved story's I didn't want it to end. I wanted to stick around Kassauaga and find out what happens to Mary and Julianna and all the rest. I look forward to more of Reardon's haunting, funny, heartbreaking, compelling prose.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
While I agree with the other reviewers that this is a well-written book with characters that we care about, no one has given readers a true sense of how difficult a book it is. It's difficult because so many of the characters are in pain and doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

While we get a sense by the end of the book that Mary and Amy are beginning to make smarter choices, there's certainly no happily-ever-after here.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As with Billy Dead, I again found myself wholly captured by Lisa Reardon's new novel. The story of Blameless concerns Mary Culpepper's attempts to come to terms with her past, both with her family and with her best friend, who is married to Mary's ex-husband. Each scene crackles with a tension and intensity that is both captivating and completely believable. The book creates a world that is as compelling as it is real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Fromal on May 23, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Blameless is the story of Mary Culpeper, a bus driver living in a small town in Michigan. Mary is a strong woman - she lives alone, plays softball, and enjoys nights out at her favorite bar. However, as the book begins, she feels as though she is losing her strength. Mary is awaiting a murder trial. She is not the defendant, but the witness for the prosecution, expected to tell how she found the body of a small child on her bus route. Her distress at the impending trial is disturbing her sleep, and causing her to do things very out-of-character, such as beginning an affair with a married man.
Ultimately, this is a book about Mary's search for truth. She must face up to the truth about what happened to the murdered girl, her family's past, and the importance of relationships to her. This search for truth is, in the end very compelling, and an important read for anyone looking for similar things in their life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Lacher on August 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The protaganist of this novel is not your typical contempory women's lit heroine. And that is wonderfully intriguing and entertaining. She drinks beer, loves her car, paints her own house, prefers her own company, and likes rough sex. But she's also very, very depressed. With good reasons, as we come to find out.
The book is a rather dark read but compelling. It deals with an issue too much with us these days. And ultimately asks us to consider the damage of family secrets and lies. Not just to the family members but the community at large.
I ran across this book by sheer chance and I'm glad I did. I found the cover design entirely misleading, however. It is much to feminized and wishy washy. Something this novel definitely is not.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Again, Ms. Reardon has given us a thought provoking read in her new book Blameless. She makes you feel as if you are living the lives of her characters. I could not put the book down until the end, then wanted more. An excellent writer.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I found I couldn't put this book down. The main character wasso real, I felt she could easily be someone I knew. Ms. Reardon is anexcellent story-teller. She takes small events of daily life, and quickly cuts to the emotions of the moment. Her characters have such dimension; they're so complex, yet comfortable. I highly recommend this book. It's a GREAT read.
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