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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I admit that when I read about Clarisse Burden in her large, well cared for and beautifully proportioned house with a husband frolicking with nude models in the garden, I didn't sympathize with Clarisse. I kept wanting her to get angry and kick the deadbeat out of her house!

But as Clarisse's personal history, wit and personality unfolded, I slowly sympathized and could understand why she didn't call her husband on his ludicrous behavior. Albeit, I kept hoping that she would. Getting to know Clarisse - her kindness and generosity to the young reporter, her wry internal voice, and interest in her surroundings - helped draw me in.

Once I got into it, I thoroughly enjoyed How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly. Clarissa's voice is smart, observant, and a little sad. As she focuses on other people and their stories, she becomes engaged and you see how Clarissa was able to write stories that touched people's lives. If you're looking for an unusual absorbing read, I highly recommend How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly.

ISBN-10: 0446540684 - Hardcover
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (April 2, 2010), 288 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In Hope, Florida, as the summer solstice proves to be the hottest day of the year, thirtyish successful novelist Clarissa Burden wonders how her life could be so miserable. She knows the reason is her envious spouse Igor "Igy" Dupuy, a failed multimedia artist who draws nudes in an effort to bed them. He has replaced her mother as her personal put down artist.

Clarissa needs to escape from his indifference, but sees no hope in doing so. However, she is unaware that the house she shares with the brute also contains ghosts. She and the spirits want freedom so on the longest day of the year, the heat inside the Burden home has become hotter than hell.

This is a whimsical character tale that grips the audience once the stage is set as the reader will want to know whether Clarissa, suffering from writer's block and spousal cruelty, is losing her mind or do ghosts, a carnival cast and animals communicate with her. Fans will relish Clarissa as she seeks escaping her troubles by learning to fly solo the hard way.

Harriet Klausner
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2010
Successful writer Clarissa Burden may live in Hope, FL but hope is not necessarily a word in her vocabulary when referring to her own life. She is experiencing writer's block, her husband. Iggy, mostly ignores her (as he paints naked "models" in the backyard) unless he is acknowledging her presence with complete disdain, her new house is beautiful but possibly haunted, she has an obsessed fly that is stalking her, her only mode of transportation is full of six months of trash, and there is a very odd one-armed stranger (angel?) offering his tree-cutting services. Clarissa's memories of her horrible, abusive childhood has left her with a lack of self-esteem and a "do I deserve more?" attitude.

How Clarissa Burden Learned to Flyby Connie May Fowler follows Clarissa's day on the summer solstice and oh, how 24 hours can change everything. A rendezvous with a handsome author friend, a trip to the dump and almost drowning in a sunken grave full of quick mud are just some of the unsuspecting events that lead Clarissa on a journey to change her life and allow her to finally fly.

My initial reaction to this book after the first 40 pages or so was confusion and curiosity. I was not sure if I would actually like the main character of Clarissa as she played such a victim of past and present circumstances. I was hoping this would not be the tone of the entire story. It did not take long for me to become completely immersed in this story and to completely become engaged with Clarissa and each and every character - I hated some and laughed at and with others. There was so much more to Clarissa then a dud just letting life run her over. She has recurring daydreams of death scenes of her husband, listens to the ovarian shadow women and speaks with Deepak Chopra as he tells her to toughen up while wearing Liberace glasses.

Ms. Fowler's storytelling skills are superb. I want to walk in the garden surrounding the house. I want to visit the general store and drive around the small swamp town meeting the eccentrics that seem to congregate to those out-of-the-way places. There are some fantastical moments and some meandering along trails that actually go nowhere but these add to the overall impact of the book and they all serve a purpose. The conclusion to the story would seem extraordinary if taken out of context but was perfect - satisfying!

If you cannot tell, I loved this book. In fact, I wish I could pretend I have not already had the pleasure of following Clarissa's life-altering day so I can experience it again!How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 20, 2010
Set on a single day, the summer solstice, this novel chronicles the empowerment and awakening of one Clarissa Burden. A successful novelist, Clarissa has found herself at age thirty-five in an unhappy and abusive marriage. She suffers from tremendous writer's block, while her husband ogles naked women in the name of "art." Clarissa's life gave her no reason to expect any better, as she grew up with a destitute and abusive mother. A series of encouters on the summer solstice will change this. Given the book's title, the basics of the plot probably come as no surprise. Where the surprise does come is in that these encounters are pushed by ghosts, of the family who lived and died in Clarissa's house, among others. I definitely found this to be one of the better fictionalized treatments of the supernatural world interfering with the mortal. The ghostly parts of the story fit, and they aren't forced. I found the ending somewhat surprising, though also rather unbelievable. Generally this was a good read, not my very favorite book, but definitely worth my time to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2010
Clarissa Burden is a writer who is suffering from writers block although she has plenty of fantasies which involve a variety of gruesome ways her cheating husband can die. The author takes us on a one day journey into Clarissa's life where we witness her transformation or revelations about her husband, marriage, and life. Intertwined in Clarissa's story is the story of the family of ghosts, a fly who falls in love with Clarissa, a one armed angel, a carnival of dwarfs, and a fellow writer. All of whom have a story to tell and manage to give Clarissa courage to become the woman she was meant to be. At times I found myself wondering what all of these characters had to do with the storyline, especially the fly. This was not a story that I would say was a favorite by any means but in its own strange way it was a fascinating story where I found myself enjoying the woman Clarissa was becoming and rooting that she would be successful in her adventure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2010
Connie Mae Fowler is a gifted storyteller, and with her newest novel, HOW CLARISSA BURDEN LEARNED TO FLY, she really outdoes herself. Many other reviewers have already summarized the story, so I will simply say that Clarissa Burden is a fascinating character, and her life story (which is revealed through one remarkable 24-hour period), is enormously complex.

From one page to the next, Connie Mae Fowler took me through an emotional scale that ranged from anger to pity to jaw-dropping awe. There's a touch of magical realism in this unique and highly original tale, and the eccentric characters are delightful. I loved being swept away into a world that offered symbolism without forced reflection, and I found the story to be fully entertaining, surprising, and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2010
Sure to be another Connie May Fowler classic, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly is a romp through the tormented psyche of two fascinating women - one who is a ghost, and one who is learning how to live.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2011
After reading Before Women Had Wings (Ballantine Reader's Circle), I had high expectations for this book, I was sorely disappointed. I had hoped for another coming of age type story, but ended up with a disjointed, directionless story that made no true sense and had the protagonist doing things that even the most abnormal of us would find odd. I have to give credit where its due, and yes, writing an entire novel must be difficult, but as a follow-up to some great novels, this one didn't have me invested in it at all. I didn't care for any of the characters and thought the random infusion of ghosts, while interesting, only detracted from the story. Overall, a rare bad book, not worth reading at all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 22, 2010
This is a wonderful book that takes you through a day with Clarissa Burden and how just 24 hours can in fact change your life. That and the help of a ghost. There is a lot of drama packed into this novel. This would make an excellent novel for a book group since there are so many things to discuss about the characters and there is enough to love and hate about the story (always a good idea for active discussions). I am not a reader who enjoys a lot of descriptions, but Fowler does a great job of making you smell the flowers, taste the food and see the sights with minimal words. (BRAVO!)
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on April 15, 2010
This book left me feeling so empowered. I felt like I was Clarissa Burden at points. I didn't have the same pressures she had growing up, and as far as I know my boyfriend hasn't started photographing models in the nude in our backyard (although he has grown awfully fond of our new Mustang...LOL) but I have the same self-doubt about myself.

I love how everything in this book has a perspective on what is going on. From the fly in the beginning to the armadillo and rats in the end their actions are described in how it relates to what is going on in the story. I won't even begin to guess the reason for this, but to me it signified that everything has a conscience and is aware of what is going on around them. Which is something I wholly agree with.

The title is so appropriate for this book. From Clarissa's day dreams to the end of the book, everything she does leads up to her flying in so many interpretations of the word. The characters were great, even the ones that I loathed. I connected to much with Clarissa that I could feel what she was going through, physically and emotionally. Not only did I laugh a few times, but I also was near tears a few times. While the abuse Clarissa suffered from her husband wasn't physical it still was hurtful, and when Iggy talks to Clarissa I wanted her to tell him to shove it and leave him. Because if I were in her situation that is what I would want to do (but I don't think I'd word it as nicely... LOL).

There's so much I want to say about this one, but I don't want to give ANYTHING away. The story resonated so much with me that I want to tell the world about it, and at the same time I think that every one will get something different from this one so I want you to have your own opinion. To me it was about Clarissa learning to rise above what she's been told about herself her entire life, which is also what she believes about herself (at least at the most basic level of the story).

So in fear that I'm going to word something wrong and ruin the story for someone else I'll just say again that it was an empowering book and leave it at that. I highly recommend this one to everyone!
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