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Queen of Broken Hearts Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A therapist specializing in helping people get sorted out postdivorce has her own problems of the heart in King's latest (after The Same Sweet Girls). Since the death of her husband, "divorce coach" Clare has thrown herself into her work. And now that she has a booming practice on Alabama's gulf coast, her after-hours is packed with even more drama: her best friend Dory's marriage is forever on the rocks; her daughter Haley's husband abandons the family; Maine transplant and marina owner Lex is newly divorced, available and interested; and Zoe, Clare's dead husband's mother, is helping Clare accomplish her dream of creating a retreat center. With more than a little help from her friends—old and new—Clare lets go of her grief and gives love another shot. Though it exhibits that unmistakable Southern charm, King's writing also frustrates: backstories are hinted at but left murky, while nagging questions hang around for hundreds of pages (the circumstances surrounding Clare's husband's death, for instance) and overshadow Clare's present-day narrative. Storytelling kinks aside, King delivers what her fans want—strong bonds, strong women characters and triumph over tragedy. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Divorce therapist Clare Ballenger helps women cope from her office, affectionately know as Casa Loco, in the quaint town of Fairhope, Alabama, but her own life, and those of loved ones, haven't benefited. Clare has misgivings about her best friend, Dory, and her marriage to charismatic and needy Son. Clare misses signs of trouble in her daughter's marriage, and has yet to deal with the death of her husband. Clare wants her patients and friends to go forward while she is stuck in the past, refusing to let a new man into her life and her bed, until a rivalry develops between an old friend and a Yankee transplant. Lex Yarbrough, retired navy captain and new owner of the marina, wants Clare and is not willing to settle for friendship. This forces Clare to confront her past and start living in the present. King's vivid and charming portrayal of southern small-town life enriches this moving and genuine story of midlife revelations. Patty Engelmann
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786891270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786891276
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,589,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cassandra King is the author of five novels, most recently the critically acclaimed Moonrise (2013), her literary homage to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Moonrise is a Fall 2013 Okra Pick and a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) bestseller. It has been described as "her finest book to date."

Fellow Southern writers Sandra Brown, Fannie Flagg, and Dorothea Benton Frank hailed her previous novel, Queen of Broken Hearts (2008), as "wonderful," "uplifting," "absolutely fabulous," and "filled with irresistible characters." Prior to that, King's third book, The Same Sweet Girls (2005), was a #1 Booksense Selection and Booksense bestseller, a Southeastern Bookseller Association bestseller, a New York Post Required Reading selection, and a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month Club selection.

Her first novel, Making Waves in Zion, was published in 1995 by River City Press and reissued in 2004 by Hyperion. Her second novel, The Sunday Wife (2002), was a Booksense Pick, a People Magazine Page-Turner of the Week, a Literary Guild Book-of-the-Month selection, a Books-a-Million President's Pick, a South Carolina State Readers' Circle selection, and a Salt Lake Library Readers' Choice Award nominee. In paperback, the novel was chosen by the Nestle Corporation for its campaign to promote reading groups.

King's short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Callaloo, Alabama Bound: The Stories of a State (1995), Belles' Letters: Contemporary Fiction by Alabama Women (1999), Stories From Where We Live (2002), and Stories From The Blue Moon Café (2004). Aside from writing fiction, she has taught writing on the college level, conducted corporate writing seminars, worked as a human-interest reporter for a Pelham, Alabama, weekly paper, and published an article on her second-favorite pastime, cooking, in Cooking Light magazine.

A native of L.A. (Lower Alabama), King currently lives in the Low Country of South Carolina with her husband, novelist Pat Conroy, whom she met when he wrote a blurb for Making Waves.

For more information about Cassandra King and information about upcoming events, please visit http://www.cassandrakingconroy.com.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By CC Roberts, Ph.D. on March 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would imagine that Cassandra King is delicate but tough, kind yet strong, generous yet committed, and a beautiful person and a fine writer. This is not prescience. . .this is fact which exudes from the pages of her latest novel, Queen of Broken Hearts. As I write this I feel guilty since I haven't totally finished the book yet, but I couldn't wait to write this review either. For anyone wondering how to spend a weekend or a luscious few hours a night for the week, buy this book. I was an English professor for over twenty years, I am a professional writer myself, and I know good fiction; yet, I could not have anticipated the siren-call of this intoxicating book. It is hypnotic and alluring, clever and subtle, and totally captivating. I work too hard, as do many of us. I rarely take an entire weekend just to read fiction that is not work-related. This is a rare treat for me. Cassandra King has not let me down with this book.

I LOVE Queen of Broken Hearts. I cannot put it down, but I can't read it too fast, either, as the characters are now becoming entwined in the fabric of my own life, and I am not ready to release them. Yet, today, I sat with this book on my lap, coffee by my side, flannel nightie tucked down around my feet like a sleeping bag. . . husband at bay in his library, the dog at my feet, and I felt just like a Norman Rockwell painting; but then something happened. I dozed off and found that my dreams were populated with Cassandra King's characters. I dreamed of Lex and Clare and wondered if Dory were feeling better or if her husband Son had tormented her some more. I found myself dreaming about Clare's dead husband Mack and seeing him in front of me.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on March 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Nobody writes quite like a Southerner...when at their best, as is Cassandra King in this lovely tale, their words flow like honey and molasses, and you can become transported to a slower way of life, the heat of a steaming Southern Day, and the lull of polite hospitality.

All of that is present in this wonderful tale of Alabama therapist Clare, mother of one adult daughter, grandmother of two, and, in her late 40s, early widow. Clare specialized in inter- and post-divorce private and group sessions, and has become somewhat renowned for her "asunder" ceremonies, which mark the end of a divorced person's successful healing.

But Clare has deep problems of her own, which she refuses to acknowledge in her need to be strong for everyone around her: daughter Halley, whose marriage is becoming disturbingly rocky; dearest friend Dory, whose tempestuous on-again, off-again marriage with Son (now THERE'S a Southern name!) is taking its toll; cousin-by-marriage Rye, whose unrequited love for her Clare continues to ignore; sexy divorced Yankee Lex, who could easily become more than the dear friend he is; and her mother-in-law, the irrascible, one-of-a-kind Zoe Catherine, whose bird sanctuary is the talk of the town.

Can Clare continue to give, give give without anything coming back to nourish her own soul? And more importantly, will she ALLOW anybody to provide that nourishment?

That question remains at the heart of this achingly wonderful novel, which I highly recommend to anyone who loves Dorothea Benton Frank, Anne Rivers Siddons and so many other of our valued and special Southern women writers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Susan Cranfield on March 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Characters are pretty numerous but not so many we can't keep up with them. Clare, the main character is a divorce therapist who lost her husband in a tragic accident. Dory (short for Isadore) is her best friend; Dory's husband Son Rogers is wealthy and is not Clare's best friend. Haley is Clare's daughter, whose husband Austin is a real jerk. Two men are romantically interested in Clare: Lex, a Yankee from Maine who owns a marina; and Rye, who is old Fairhope and a close friend of Clare's dead husband Mack. Add to this a few honest-to-goodness characters like the bird lady/mother-in-law and her strange old boyfriend Cooter and you have a colorful crowd of believable characters.

The plot of the novel belongs to the three women, Clare, Dory, and Haley--their actions, relationships (especially with each other), their reactions move the chain of events in very Southern ways. Ways, we may know something about: manipulation, mysteriousness, emotional highs and lows, and amazing courage and sensitivity.

This is a wonderful novel whose theme seems to be importance of seeing life as a journey with its crossroads; however, I prefer to think its biggest message is the strength of friendship between women.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on April 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
QUEEN OF BROKEN HEARTS by Cassandra King is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It is poignant, uplifting, tear-jerking and insightful.

When I opened the book to the first page, my heart plummeted. First person point of view--not my favorite. I'd just finished another review book in first person that I most definitely did not like. Not only was this one in first person, but present tense--a double whammy. To say I started reading with a negative attitude in place would be a truism.

Then the story took over and I forgot about the point of view. While the present tense did occasionally intrude, the story was so well written that I couldn't count that against it. Like STEEL MAGNOLIAS and FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, this is a story of the deep South, but it touches on themes that affect us all.

The story is set in a small Alabama coastal town and centers around Clare, a therapist who has her own problems. Clare, a widow, runs group sessions and retreats for women going through divorce. Her work is everything to her, even taking precedence over the two men who want her as more than just a friend. She can dish out advice, but when it comes to taking it herself, Clare has more than a few problems.

Full of quirky characters, QUEEN OF BROKEN HEARTS will make you laugh and cry, cheer and boo, but most of all, it will make you keep reading to the very end. The story has a touch of romance and all the angst you can handle as you get a peek at the lives of the inhabitants of Fairhope. This one is definitely a keeper.

Reviewed by Vicky Burkholder


4.5-Books on WUAT = 5-Stars on Amazon
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