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Family Plots: Love, Death & Tax Evasion Paperback – October 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary Patrick Kavanaugh has a checkered professional past that includes time served in a wide range of professions, ranging from private investigator to Avon Lady. Recently, after a series of crushing disappointments, Mary redirected a life long dream of becoming bestselling author into a new goal of being the most successful failure possible. In this role she offers workshops, products, and cheap advice that assist the downtrodden to reframe difficult experiences in a positive way. Her website, www.mydreamisdeadbutimnot.com, serves as a gateway to a virtual cemetery that invites visitors to bury the failed dreams that have morphed into obstacles to light hearted living. Because no life is only about its flops, the author admits to having one perfect daughter, one happy marriage with a loving (but now dead) husband, one well-adjusted cat that prefers to live with her aunt, and a confusing, yet fun, personal life. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from University of San Francisco (2003), a BA in History from San Francisco State University (1988), good teeth, and an excellent credit rating.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (October 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1440104662
  • ISBN-13: 978-1440104664
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,037,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Anne Moose on November 24, 2008
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Family Plots is wonderful on so many levels that I'm afraid I won't do it justice, but I'm going to try, because I think Mary Patrick Kavanaugh and her incredible first book deserve widespread recognition. Though it's written as a novel, the book is basically the true story of the author's search for love and stability for herself and her small daughter. She does find happiness, but there's a hitch: the man of her dreams is not exactly on the up and up, an he comes with a cast of characters that are both mysterious and shady. I won't try to summarize the plot, because I don't want to give anything away, but it's a remarkable, sometimes zany story with unforgettable characters, masterful dialog, and so much humor and heart that I predict it will become a best seller. This book is simply a pleasure to read, and though it's humorous throughout, it ultimately takes you to a place that is surprisingly serious, with messages about love and humanity that are deeply moving. Family Plots has everything. Above all, it has Mary, whose honesty and quirky take on life make it one of the best modern novels I've read. I simply love this book, and heartily recommend it to anyone who appreciates a good story, superb writing, and the kind of wit and wisdom that make you fall in love not only with the book, but also with the author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By H. Miller on December 20, 2008
A very funny yet poignant book. The author is an amazing writer. I kept reading excerpts to my wife as I was reading - I hope I didn't spoil it for her. This is the best creator of metaphors I have ever read. I wanted to stop and write some of them down because they were so evocative of images and memory. A poetic experience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 17, 2009
Self-published after "sixteen rejections from prominent New York publishers in 2008", Kavanaugh's biographical novel is a tour de force of sorts, a purging of ten years of bad decisions, questionable business practices and love among the ruins. Breaking up with the father of her little daughter, Mary's first mission, other than panic, is to rebuild a shoddy credit history and find a job. It is just after the Loma Prieta earthquake in northern California in 1989: Mary's trembling building is an apt metaphor for her life thus far. One of three siblings, Mary is the child of parents without boundaries, given to the quick fix and problem avoidance. So when she reconnects with an ex-boss, Dan Murphy, the result is romance rather than employment opportunity. Charmed by the slightly older Dan, a criminal lawyer, Mary buys into his facile explanation for conducting business under the radar, ignoring the red flags waving in her face.

Mary is a romantic at heart, self-deprecating, acerbic, all too readily accepting Dan's questionable business practices in exchange for a satisfying personal life. Until the ten-year anniversary of the earthquake, Mary rides an emotional rollercoaster, clinging to her love for Dan in spite of his shady, never-ending deals and criminally-inclined business partners. Dan always has a deal about to be made, a distrust of the government, an aversion to paper trails and a proclivity for cash transactions. Besides the nagging mystery of Dan's brother's death years earlier, his eccentric parents are proof that this particular apple hasn't fallen far from the tree. Avid visitors to the family cemetery plot, Dan's parents harbor similar quirky behaviors, stashing cash in paper bags in the basement, secrets withheld from one another.
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So here I am again... tiptoeing into a book that makes me wonder what I am about to read. With a title like Family Plots, Love, Death, and Tax Evasion... I admit I am concerned yet intrigued. As I started reading chapter one I relaxed into what I can say is a pleasant and easy read. The words flowed off the pages and I was instantly there - with Mary - at the mailbox, studying her neighbors whose life she envisions as near perfect, and I am there as she pulls the letter out of the mailbox on page 4:

Dear Mary,

I am very sorry to hear that you still haven't set any kind of wedding date. You surely must want to give your darling Rachel a family name, or just what is it today? Are you one of the turncoats of today? There is just no morality any more and soon the United States will be a mess, as you will probably live to see. I thought you said your college boyfriend Kevin was a wonderful man. Also you told me that he was a catholic. You are 27 years old and a mother! What on earth is wrong with you? Get yourself married and be decent. You'll be lot happier.

Love and prayers, Grandma Hazel

I thought about showing the letter to my "college boyfriend Kevin" also known as the Impregnator-a nickname I'd invented recently, after struggling to find a proper title when asked if he were my husband.

Ok - ha ha.... I was in! When I picked up this book the plan was to to just read a few pages to get the flow of the read and then get back to it later. Instead, I found myself sinking on to the couch in the position that I was going to get back up any minute and read on later. Uhhh... yeah... about that... 2 hours later I am still onthe couch but now curled up and engrossed deeply into this delightfiul read.
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