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The End of Always: A Novel Hardcover – May 6, 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Like much of the rest of the nation, Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 1907 is not a fit place for a young girl to come of age. Poverty and violence abound and will prove to be a near-fatal combination for impressionable Marie Reehs. Emotionally scarred by her mother’s brutal and unexplained death, Marie suspects her father was responsible and longs to flee his dictatorial and abusive home before she becomes his next victim. When Marie falls in love with August, a charismatic youth who has already witnessed her family’s worst episode, Marie believes she is destined for a life where true love will sustain and protect her. Within days of their marriage, however, August proves to be every bit as savage and cruel as her father. Beaten to within an inch of her life, Marie bravely files for divorce, an unheard-of act of self-preservation in those days. Based upon her own ancestry, Davenport’s deeply affecting historical novel of a courageous young woman’s struggle to survive in an overtly sexist time is both a sobering and stirring tribute to determination. --Carol Haggas


"Extraordinary. A lament straight from the heart of young womanhood in early twentieth-century America. You can feel this story in your bones."―Amity Gaige, author of Schroder, O My Darling, and The Folded World

A "deeply affecting historical novel of a courageous young woman's struggle to survive in an overtly sexist time is both a sobering and stirring tribute to determination."―Booklist

"As lyrical as it is harrowing."

Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455573078
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455573073
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Randi Davenport is the author of The End of Always (Twelve, May 2014) and of The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes (Algonquin, 2010). In 2011, she received the GLCA New Writer's Award for Creative Non-fiction, and was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, Washington Post, Ontario Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Women's History Review, Literature/Film Quarterly, Victorian Literature and Culture, among others.

Randi Davenport has a son and a daughter. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

For more about Randi and THE END OF ALWAYS, visit her website: www.randidavenport.com

Follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Advance praise for THE END OF ALWAYS:

"Extraordinary. A lament straight from the heart of young womanhood in early twentieth-century America. You will feel this story in your bones." -- Amity Guage, author of SHRODER

"In a first novel as lyrical as it is harrowing, Davenport (author of the memoir The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes) explores the darker side of the American dream and women's exclusion from its freedoms. Marie Reehs, the child of German immigrants, comes of age in Waukesha, Wis., in the first decade of the 20th century. When she's 17, Marie loses her mother to a gruesome injury; though the death is deemed an accident, awareness of her father's violence make the naturally questioning, even visionary girl doubt that convenient explanation. Later, working grueling days as a laundress, Marie reencounters August Bethke, one of the passersby who helped bring her mother home as she was bleeding to death from a stab wound. Soon trysting with him in the woods at night, she finds herself in conflict with her family, her employer (who begins to make passes at her), her coworkers, and her fellow townspeople, who look down on her affair with August. Her elemental passion seems to promise a less constricted future, but Marie finds that neither her family's painful legacy nor her own female vulnerability is easily escaped. Davenport shapes her story--drawn from her own family history--with scrupulous patience, deftly juxtaposing striking images of the Midwestern landscape with evocations of Marie's vivid inner world."--Publisher's Weekly


"Randi Davenport's The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes (Algonquin) is about her son Chase's psychotic breakdown at age 15. One doctor diagnosed him as " 'Chase NOS'--Chase Not Otherwise Specified. 'He's a population of one,' " as is this unforgettable memoir of a shattered family, a mother's abiding love, and the frightening permutations of the human mind."--Lisa Shea, Elle Magazine, April 2010

"A heartbreaking, disturbing, and truly courageous story of one mother's fight to save her son."-- Alice Hoffman

"A gripping memoir of motherly love and absolute devotion."
--Kirkus Reviews

"A brave and beautiful story by a born writer. This is a book like a beacon, offering clarity, inspiration, and validation for us all, especially those of us, like myself, who have struggled with serious mental illness in our families...and that's two out of five families in the United States." -- Lee Smith

"Randi Davenport has written a miraculous book about the heartbreak and devastation that occur when her son is diagnosed with severe mental illness. The Boy Who Love Tornadoes is a gripping and deeply compelling book about a mother's search for the proper care and treatment of her psychotic son. Davenport shows us the gritty and enraging reality of our long fractured mental health system, even at the best health facilities. Davenport's exacting and beautifully written story, along with her ferocity and unrelenting determination to help her child, make her a formidable advocate for those afflicted with these cruel and often stigmatized diseases. The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes is the best book I've read about mental illness since Kay Jamison's An Unquiet Mind." --Virginia Holman, author of Rescuing Patty Hearst: Memories From a Decade Gone Mad

"Davenport writes poignantly. . . . [her] memoir is intensely thorough and affecting." --Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A deep and thought-provoking historical novel, THE END OF ALWAYS is about one young, sad, yet brave and courageous woman’s struggle to change her life, and break the cycle of family violence of men against women.

Randi Davenport is a talented writer and gets into the mind of seventeen- year- old Marie, the main character, set in 1907 in the rural area of Wisconsin.

There are many common threads when comparing 1907 to 2014, as violence still exists today in many families, with unhealthy learned behavior, continuing the vicious cycle. Sadly, may still apply behind the closed doors of many households today.

Like Marie’s family—her dad was a very violent man, with cruel punishments, for the three daughters, even killing her mom. She vows she will never marry a violent man, as did her mother and her grandmother. She is continually haunted by the memory of her mother and longs for a better life, a more independent one without the abuse.

However, her older sister (she totally frustrated me), feels the woman has to cater to the man's wishes, and ensure he does not get mad, doing whatever they want to make peace, as part of a duty as a wife, daughter, or mother.

The punishments and abuse were horrific, and at times the audiobook was difficult to listen to, even though the narrator did an outstanding job depicting the moods and emotions of each character.

Marie meets a charismatic young man, August, and is blown away by his affections and thinks this is her way out of her bad home situation. She falls in love very fast, and disregards the signs. She is convinced he's a kind, gentle man who will never harm her.
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Format: Hardcover
The End of Always is such a powerful novel – once I started it, I couldn’t put it down. Marie’s story, as a member of a poor immigrant family in the early 1900s, is so compelling. Her dreams, joys and challenges are so real; anyone could relate to her struggles and hopes. And the centrality of friends and community support to her success is an important reminder that heroism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The writing is lyrical and beautiful. This novel reminds me of other major American writers like Willa Cather, Theodore Dreiser and Alice Walker. I can’t wait for Davenport’s next book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an amazing novel. The physical setting of the story, the time period, the author's amazing research into her family's past all make this novel enticing. I won't spend time on the actual story, other reviews have said it all. It's the author's writing style that knocked me out the most. I spent a LOT of time highlighting passages and descriptions. The author has a vivid imagination, for me it's reminiscent of Alice Hoffman. There are too many passages to quote as examples of the author's exquisite prose that make you not just SEE it, but FEEL it. Here are but a few.

A silent city made empty by snow, the quiet of a deep northern plain.
I pictured its sparks showering down like blue fireflies.
When I breathed out, I could see my breath as if my very soul kept escaping.
Confident as death.
The house creaked like a ship coming undone from its moorings.
He kissed me until I felt my blood and bones and skin and muscle turn to shivering water and the water that I had become flooded toward him.

And then there are the descriptions/statements put in most unique ways:

"This is an American concept. We pray for justice above all else, even if we do not love the law and do not love our lawyers or our litigation. We like to think that everything we do is based in fairness. This is our most dearly held illusion."

"No one knows why we are drawn to the ones we love. Perhaps the things that happen to us when we are children explain everything that comes later. Perhaps after all the mistaken ideas our parents have about us we feel that we have met someone who recognizes us for who we are and who will hold our spirit like a flame. Some things just lack definition. Love is not always like a love song.
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Format: Kindle Edition
"Some nights he hit me for no reason. Other nights I seemed to be the cause. One morning he took a razor from his kit and stropped it and then held it next to my face. One night he flicked a knife at me. Afterward, he always said he was wrong. He always said it was his fault. He always said he wanted to do the right thing. I often thought that if August were president, he could enact a hundred laws against the things he did, but still, he would do them. A hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, I would read newspaper stories about girls who disappeared at the hand of some man. And August would be the same. Law or no law. This I believed to be love."

This is the predicament of Marie Reehs. Born into a family in which violence is commonplace, she can imagine few other options for herself. She and her sister see their mother carried home by their father and his friends. She has been critically wounded, and dies at home. No one will say what happened. Marie believes her father killed her mother. Her older sister Martha will only call it "mother's terrible accident." Younger sister Hattie is too young to know better. All the men stand guard outside, their silence a wall.

Set in rural Wisconsin in 1907, "The End of Always" presents us with the type of closed system that is a daily reality for women all over the world, in all walks of life. Marie and her sisters live in constant fear of their father, but cannot live on their own until they find a man to marry. Their father rejects all candidates for marriage. Hattie, once diagnosed with one leg longer than the other, must wear painful leg braces when it is clear that she walks better without them and has clearly grown out of them. If she refuses, her father will beat her.
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