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Conscience Point Hardcover – October 1, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New York concert pianist Madeleine Shaye has it all: a thriving career as a television correspondent, a beautiful adopted daughter in college and a longtime love, wealthy Nick Ashcroft. Violet Ashcroft, Nick's sister, first brought Maddy to their crumbling Hamptons mansion during their 1960s college days, when the girls were trying to avoid marriage and follow their artistic passions to Paris. More than three decades later, Violet has long since disappeared in a void of scandal, but Maddy hopes to resuscitate their dream of establishing an artists' colony. Unfortunately, Nick has been acting distant and dropping hints about wanting a child, even though Maddy is pushing middle age. Before long, daughter Laila announces she's leaving Brown to work in a Guatemalan village, a new producer shoves Maddy aside in favor of a younger competitor, and Nick leaves her for another woman. Maddy soon discovers that these upheavals camouflage a crueler betrayal, one that launches her into a winding journey of revenge and renewal. Abeel's middling fifth novel recasts familiar characters and situations on a new stage, but with the exception of vibrant (but underused) Violet offers little that's fresh. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

Madeleine “Maddy” Shaye is content with her station in life: her adopted daughter excels academically, just like she did; her husband, Nick, a publisher, who came along later in Maddy’s life, comes from old money, which makes traveling, philanthropy, and leisure possible; and her second career as an arts broadcast reporter brings her considerable acclaim. It’s the late 1990s, though, and soon Maddy feels the breakneck speed of the world leaving her behind. Young hotshots have established new regimes at both her and her husband’s jobs, making her regret that she didn't pursue her dream to be a concert pianist and that she didn’t devote more effort to her marriage. Not to mention that her daughter decides she wants to save the world rather than finish college. As her life unravels, the past rears its head, turning up buried secrets, but Maddy finds strength in her music. Abeel manages both to poke entertaining fun at the silly habits of the superrich and to tell the engrossing, sympathetic story of a superrich woman who turns her back on it all. --Mary Frances Wilkens

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books (October 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932961534
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932961539
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,409,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Conscience Point by Erica Abeel is one of those literary novels that's difficult to describe in just a few sentences. Madeleine Shaye thinks her life is just about perfect. She's a successful concert pianist who also works as a reporter for a national cultural arts TV show. Her daughterLaila is going throw normal college-age growing pains but is her best friend. And her long time lover Nick is still just as charming as when she met him thirty years ago. Together they live in hisHamptons mansion from the book title. But cracks begin to form in the foundation of her world, and Madeleine is shaken to the core as everything that matters is taken away until all that is left is self. Conscience Point serves as more than the name of Nick's family home, it's also an excellent description for the narration of this dreamlike novel.Abeel does a wonderful job of portraying just how caught up in our own narrative we can get not seeing the truth of situations are realizing how other people may view the same circumstances. The writing is almost stream of consciousness at times, with a fevered, dream-like quality. The reader is carried along with Maddy's intense emotions until she comes to find strength and purpose within herself. It's an astonishing narrative of one woman's life.
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Format: Hardcover
Erica Abeel's Conscience Point, published by Unbridled Books, started off rough for me, with shifts in tone and language for one of the main characters, Nick Ashcroft. After about 60 pages or so, I became absorbed in the dark secrets and the Gothic mystery surrounding the once lavish estate of Conscience Point. Madeleine Shaye is a concert pianist, an arts journalist, a mother, and a lover who allows passion to derail her career and lead her down a path that is wrought with disappointment and heartache. Nick Ashcroft and his sister Violet lead Shaye onto this path and become the center of her world, despite Maddie's obliviousness. The deep secret that tears her relationship with Nick apart is predictable at best, but Abeel weaves a setting that captivates the read and lulls them into the fantasy.

Shaye is a young pianist befriended by an eccentric artist from a wealthy New York family, Violet Ashcroft. She's easily dazzled by the estate, Conscience Point's ambiance, and the stormy eyes of Violet's brother Nick. Despite the separation between Nick and Maddie that lasts several years and through one marriage each, they connect as most artists will with exploding passion in a paradise far from their "real" worlds. Their love is a fantasy that sweeps up Maddie and leaves her blind to the reality of her self-constructed family. "Love cannot dwell with suspicion" is an apt theme running through the first portion of this novel, which stems from an ancient Roman myth featuring Cupid and Psyche. However, amidst the turmoil that her life becomes, Maddie is once again swept up by her true passion--music.
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Format: Paperback
Madeleine "Maddy" Shaye, an accomplished concert pianist and television personality, lives a content life with her adopted daughter and her longtime boyfriend, Nick Ashcroft. As you might expect, Maddy's perfect life begins to slowly unravel bit by bit, first her career and then her family. Abeel maintains a high level of suspense as the story progresses, skipping from Maddy's past to the present and back again.

Abeel's prose is similarly nimble, though its studied flippancy takes some getting used to. This passage describing Maddy's culinary failure and Nick's save is typical of Abeel's style throughout:
He cooked--partly by necessity. She'd curdled the beef Stroganoff for a dinner party, but Nick just laughed it off; their unspoken compact was never blame the other; the word "Strogo" became their code for gastric alert. Sure, he was bossy as hell in the kitchen, and as for the cleanup ... But ta-da! he'd set out steaming bowls of zuppa di pesce, exuding essence of sea.

Abeel's upbeat, casual prose seems inconsistent with Conscience Point's overriding darkness. It's this darkness--a kind of pervasive Gothic atmosphere--that is this novel's most compelling feature. Other redeeming qualities include Abeel's graceful treatment of Maddy's musical career and the supporting character of Violet, Nick's sister. Although Violet rarely appears in the novel, her force is apparent throughout. Overall, Conscience Point is a suspenseful family drama written in somewhat distracting prose.
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Format: Hardcover
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Certainly, when young Madeleine Shaye is seduced into an impulsive friendship with Violet Ashcroft, she is driven, consumed with ambition as a gifted pianist, her sights set firmly on a successful career. Taking a detour with the fascinating, unpredictable Violet, Maddy learns a harsh lesson in the duplicity of the rich, Violet's grand gestures never as generous as they first appear. Accepting an invitation to the family estate at Conscience Point, Maddy is awed by an overblown, gothic mansion that might have been evoked from a decadent past: "There's a faux finish on everything. Like our family." The dark waters of the Ashcroft legacy are obscured by the eccentricities of wealth, Violet's grand gestures, her mother, Serena's obsession with winged creatures to the exclusion of her children, Violet's brother, Nick, who simmers with resentment, soon absorbed with Maddy's blooming talent.

Of course, this elaborate, dramatic world is irresistible to one such as Maddy, at first resisting the pull of the family's excesses, only to wonder later at her naiveté, desired by both sister and brother in that heady environment. What she realizes after considerable error is bought at great expense; "The rich, immured in their own desires, need never bump into reality." It is this painful landscape the author explores, Maddy's first brush with the Ashcroft's before she veers away from them to make her own mistakes, a stalled career, an impetuous marriage, an adopted daughter. Told in more recent time (1997-98) with flashbacks to those first days at Conscience Point, with Nick, with Violet, Maddy's life is a series of stops and starts, the promise and glamour of her talent eclipsed by daily demands.
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