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Broken for You Paperback – September 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
"The dead, Margaret thought. They can be so loud." So muses the protagonist of this dreamy, powerful tale of familial warring, secrets and redemption. When elderly Margaret Hughes discovers that she has a malignant brain tumor, she refuses treatment and decides to take a nice young tenant into her huge, lonely Seattle mansion for company. What she gets is Wanda Schultz, a tough-as-nails stage manager who is secretly seeking the man who left her and prone to inexplicable weeping breakdowns. Wanda, ignorant of Margaret's illness, is intrigued by the museum-like house and its eccentric owner—so when Margaret unexpectedly invites her to a drink-champagne-and-break-the-priceless-antique-china party for two, she's delighted. But a dark history lurks; the houseful of gorgeous antique porcelain comes from Margaret's father's WWII pilfering of European Jewish homes. Meanwhile, Wanda's father, who deserted her years ago, is on the road trying to heal, and Margaret's mother's ghost is haunting the Seattle mansion, lounging about in expensive peignoirs and criticizing her only daughter. Wrestling to keep the dead and the ghosts of their pasts at bay, the two women slowly build an extraordinary friendship, and when Wanda discovers a talent for mosaics, the past begins to quiet. Though it takes a while to get started, this haunting and memorable debut is reminiscent of early Atwood, peopled by lovably imperfect and eccentric characters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
*Starred Review* Well-crafted plotting and crackling wit make this debut novel by Seattle author Kallos a delight to read and a memory to savor. The compelling story highlights the losses and disjointedness of life and the many paths back to healing for those who seek the way. Margaret Hughes lives alone in a Seattle mansion, divorced from her husband after the death of their son. She talks to her father's priceless antique porcelain collection and spends her days dusting. Wanda Schultz, abandoned as a child by her parents, cannot accept the rejection of her lover, Peter, whose solitary postcard brings her across the country in search of him. When cancer sends Margaret a wake-up call, she opens her home and her heart: first to Wanda and then to a flood of other new "family" members as she learns to interact with people and eventually to atone for a past crime she only gradually understands. But the clever plot and luminous characters are not all that place this novel at the head of the class. Ghostly characters only Margaret sees and heaps of broken porcelain provide powerful metaphors for the sins of the past and the need for personal sacrifice. Book groups will enjoy discussing the layers of meaning, the stylistic nuances, and the powerful message of hope secreted in these pages. Jennifer Baker
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
So far so good. The plot from that point on became a little messy and convoluted. The most interesting point ----- (whatever happened to Dad, anyway?) came far too late and with far too little resolution to allow me any emotional reward. I read through to the end but had Amazon waited just another week to ask me for a review, I probably would've forgotten this book completely. On the upside, the writing itself is to be admired. The plot, however, needed a more ruthless editor.
Margaret, an elderly widow, lives in a Seattle mansion (15,000 square feet) surrounded by priceless china, crystal and countless expensive tchotchkes given to her by her father after he returned from numerous trips to Europe in the 1940s. After learning she has an incurable brain tumor, she decides to take in a boarder. Margaret chooses Wanda, a stage manager, who is obsessed with finding the man who jilted her. Both women carry baggage and, rather than sharing with each other, hold their pasts and their secrets close to the vest.
The characters are developed so well that I did not care that parts of the story were formulaic. I can envision the book as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, because the characters are quirky, and the plot made me happy and satisfied. I do not mean that as a pejorative; sometimes I crave a story with a happy ending. I normally prefer books with a little more "meat", but Ms. Kallos did a fine job in mov the story along while adding some twists and turns. Along with her character development, she writes beautifully.
Broken for You is a perfect book to crawl up with in front of the fire. I do not think that this is the last time I will hear the name, Stephanie Kallos.
My initial reaction after reading several pages was to put this book down. It didn't immediately deliver a hook and I expected to be drawn into the story right away. Had I abandoned BROKEN FOR YOU, I would have missed an unusual story; I'm glad I didn't do it. My book club and I enjoyed a thought-provoking discussion of plot, characters, and theme. This is not a 'read and forget' novel. You'll want to share your thoughts with others, so ask a friend(s) to read it, too.
Stephanie Kallos has done a wonderful job of following the quirky path of the two main characters whose childhoods left them with broken hearts. And their invisible Life Shields are in place to prevent more of the same. But as one spiritual writer once said, it is only in the places that we are broken that the light is able to shine in. It is encouraging to watch as the light slowly shines past their efforts to protect their damaged hearts. Not often do I read a book that so vividly portrays the randomness of human suffering and and I come away encouraged.