Other Sellers on Amazon
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Follow the Author
Black and Blue: A Novel (Random House Reader's Circle) Paperback – March 30, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Enhance your purchase
"Don't Forget Dexter!" by Lindsay Ward
Introducing Dexter T. Rexter, the toughest, coolest dinosaur ever. At least he likes to think so. | Learn more
Frequently bought together
"Beautifully paced—keeps the reader anxiously turning the pages."—New York Times Book Review
"A gut-wrencher—another stunner."—Denver Post
"Impossible to put down—the tension is both awful and mesmerizing."—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"Engrossing—compassionate and tense."—New York Times
"Her best novel yet."—Publishers Weekly
"Absolutely believable—Quindlen writes with power and grace."—Boston Globe
"A moving masterpiece."—Lexington Herald-Leader
A selection of the Literary Guild and Oprah's Book Club
About the Author
- Publisher : Random House Trade Paperbacks (March 30, 2010)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0812980492
- ISBN-13 : 978-0812980493
- Lexile measure : 1000L
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.14 x 0.65 x 7.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #622,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
A novel about an abused woman's path to freedom, BLACK AND BLUE introduces us to the world of Fran Benedetto, a woman who is beaten and emotionally abused every day by the only man she's ever loved, her husband Bobby.
Fran lives day by day in a type of fear that can't even be described. A wrong word or a wrong look - anything could set off Bobby's anger. A broken nose or a black eye -- Bobby lashes out at Fran in any way he can. It seems to start out as a mistake, a fluke, but as the years go by, Bobby continues to beat Fran for the slightest thing, and does not see anything wrong in what he does to her.
The fact that Bobby is a policeman makes this a scarier ordeal for Fran. Bobby knows that even if Fran goes to the police, no one would believe that he had beaten up his own wife. His reputation on the force seems to be legendary. On the other hand, if Fran did try to go to the police, no one could protect her from his wrath after finding out what she did.
Fran keeps these abuses and fears to herself. Her son Robert asks Fran, "how did that happen?" when he sees her with a black eye. Fran always has an answer, always avoids telling him the truth. And Robert looks the other way. Although old enough to understand what is happening, he is still too young to want to accept such a thing happening between his parents. So he chooses to pretend that everything is ok.
Fran could only take so much abuse. She takes their son Robert and leaves for Florida under the guidance of Patty Bancroft, a leader of a group that helps battered women like Fran by relocating them with a whole new identity, saving them from the men that are abusing them. Fran starts a new life with a new name, and slowly things begin to fall in to place. But, no matter what Patty tells her, Fran feels that Bobby will one day find them. And when he does, Fran knows her life is over.
BLACK AND BLUE was one of those books that kept me glued to every page. What surprised me is that I did not cry once or feel any real strong emotions while I read this book except for fear. The book for me was more like a suspense novel, and secondarily a novel about spousal abuse. The author focused more on Fran's attempt to forge a new life for herself and her son and on her every day fears that Bobby would eventually find her. With that said, I highly enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. It was an Oprah Selection, but for me it was not as typical a choice as some of her past books.
In short, the emotions expressed in this book are realistic and accurate to me. Real domestic violence is not as much of a "David and Goliath" story as we would hope in order to make a riveting plot. The reality is a lot more static - even once a survivor is physically out of the relationship, it takes an extremely long time for them to be emotionally and psychologically out of it.
For those interested in exploring this concept further, I recommend "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. It is not a novel, but a non-fiction book that provides insight into abusive men.
Top reviews from other countries
'Black and Blue' is the story of Frances (Fran) Benedetto. On the surface a successful nurse with a handsome policeman husband and adorable son whose Italian heritage also makes him very handsome, Fran is actually the victim of appalling physical abuse from her husband Bobby. Bobby's job as a policeman and her fear that she'll lose their son Robert puts her off reporting her injuries - but after Bobby breaks her nose, Fran eventually decides enough is enough, and contacts a mysterious woman who runs an 'underground' service for battered wives. This woman, Patty, gets Fran and Robert out of New York and finds them new identities as 'Beth and Robert Crayshaw' in a small town in Florida. She even gets 'Beth' a job as a care assistant and an apartment. Fran is reassured that all will be well as long as she follows Patty's instructions, and never contacts anyone from her past life. But losing everyone from her past - particularly her beloved sister Grace - is not so easy for Fran to do, even though she begins to make new friends, including PE teacher Mike, and Avon Lady Cindy. As for Robert, who never knew the worst of his mother's story, he's horribly torn between loyalty to his mother and a fierce desire to see his father again - something that will have terrible consequences....
Anna Quindlen is one of those writers that I admire but have never found really engrossing - and I'm not sure why. Her plots are well constructed, her characters on the whole quite interesting - and yet there's always something intangible that prevents me really caring about her protagonists and getting involved in their stories. Perhaps it is that she has something of the same quality as Ann Tyler (whose work I really don't like on the whole) and is so keen to create 'ordinary' American characters that they actually come across at times as quite bland.
This novel I definitely thought was one of her better ones - but I'd have liked it more, I think, if I hadn't read a much better novel about domestic abuse written around the same time, Anita Shreve's 'Strange Fits of Passion'. Shreve's got a bit more commercial recently, but this novel was written when she was in her more 'literary' and less self-conscious early stages as a writer, and I thought it was remarkably intelligent - about why a woman would let her husband abuse her, how she would react towards both him and their child, the long-term effects of abuse, and how she would make a new life in a small community. Compared to Shreve's Maureen, who is always asking herself why she's let her situation get as bad as it did, Fran seems for the most part oddly passive (so much so that I wonder how she actually manages to go ahead with her escape plan). She lets Bobby abuse her for years, never really seeming to question why this is - at least Shreve provided the abusive husband Harold in her novel with a past that explained if not excused his appalling behaviour. When she eventually does escape, it's only through letting Patty run her life almost as much as Bobby did, with Fran again going along passively with everything suggested. She never appears to think that Robert may eventually put her in danger - though it's clear from the start that this is likely. There was a sense throughout, however likeable and pitiable Fran was, of a woman who easily fell into the roles of being pushed around and letting other people run her. And other than Bobby - who had a real feel of danger but also of charisma about him - and in some parts of the book Robert - whose split loyalties made agonizing reading, even if he appeared to forget about them for long periods - the other characters were for the most part not all that interesting (unlike the wonderful Maine villagers in 'Strange Fits of Passion'). Mike was a cardboard cut-out 'Mr Nice Guy' and his romance with Fran predictable, unlike the much more romantic one between Jack and Maureen in Shreve's book, Cindy a stereotyped 'nice mummy type', Grace a simple 'opposite' to Frances (feisty, unmarried, intellectual), Patty (bossy and domineering) and so on - though the elderly Jewish lady Mrs Irving had her loveable episodes, certainly. So while I did read the book with some pleasure, I found myself always comparing it to the Shreve, and also switching off during the long Thanksgiving dinners, make-up sessions, periods of girly gossip etc etc.
There were good things about this book - Fran's angst-ridden meditations about what had gone wrong with her life and her tenderness (mutual) for Grace, the spine-chilling final sections (with a bit of a twist to the tale), the descriptions of Fran's nursing job. And Quindlen does offer some interesting meditations on the lack of protection that battered wives get - or got in the 1990s - in America, and on how a rather ordinary and shy woman might react to such a marriage. But the lack of real investigation into psychological motivation, and the tendency of the minor characters to all drift into rather bland American stereotypes mean that I was always comparing it unfavourably with Shreve's wonderful book, one of the best on abuse that there is. Still - worth a read.
Three and a half stars.
What comes across most strongly in the novel is the sense of foreboding, the sense that Beth is always looking over her shoulder, always checking the crowds for that familiar face, always holding her breath before she answers the phone or opens the door in case in case in case... We see Beth make new friends, start a new career, dally with a new relationship but there's always the feeling that this new life is a fragile one and it will only take one phone call or one slip of the tongue to bring everything crashing down around her. I know that feeling only too well. Even though my own circumstances in leaving a domestic relationship were very different, I know only too well that sense of having to be careful, having to watch what you do, what you say, where you go, who you see. It's not a nice feeling, it leaves you feeling paranoid and shaky, and that feeling came over loud and clear through Quindlen's beautiful prose.
And then there's Robert, Fran's beloved son. He's been brought up in a violent home and although his father never hit him, he's seen the damage. And yet he loves his father, idolises his father and though he understands why they left, he never quite gets why they have to stay away.
Add to this a group of supportive and interesting characters - Cindy, who has her own dark secret; the caring PE teacher Mike; Mrs Levett, and her wheezing, comatose husband. Together they paint a rich portrait of a flimsy life built on half truths and lies - where you know the true story is just around the corner.
Most books have a happy ending, but not this one. Well in some ways it's happy, but it also left me sobbing for the life that could have been.
A challenging, wonderful, poetic beauty of a book.