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Peace by Piece Paperback – February 14, 2013
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Reviewed by Natasha Jackson for Readers' Favorite
Carol Fragale Brill tells this story beautifully, weaving the past and present seamlessly. Maggie. . .Struggling with eating disorders, abruptly leaves her first love behind and gives up on love. Until years later, when she meets an adorable little girl. Izzie satisfies Maggie's need to be loved, even in the unconditional way of young children. Maggie gets a second chance to feel loved again. The title is just one of the memorable phrases in Peace by Piece. The author does a fantastic job showing Maggie's journey to love herself.
About the Author
Carol Fragale Brill, earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Poets and Writers named her fiction the 2010 Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange first runner-up, A novel excerpt turned short story was selected as a favorite for the Philadelphia Stories Anthology. She writes book reviews for New York Journal of Books. Her work has also been published in Wide Array, Philadelphia Stories, and The Press of Atlantic City. Find her blog at www.4broadminds.blogspot.com/
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Maggie's character was disappointing in some respects as she surrendered desire for passionate love for motherhood to Izzie, hoping her husband Donald, would fulfill her dreams in the future. Donald was an aggravating character who truly believed he knew best for his daughter and his wife, but more often than not, he missed the mark by miles.
I hated how controlling Donald was. I hated that Maggie settled. But I loved that she was given a second chance with Thomas and the decisions she made that were hard and ugly. This was also a story of issues and I appreciated how they were dealt with.
I enjoyed this novel, although I wasn't always in the mood to deal with Maggie's turmoil. But I appreciated her growth throughout the book and that she did finally deal with things head on. I love a character driven book.
It's a character-driven novel with a good story. Maggie sees something, makes assumptions, and because of her insecurities, abruptly leaves her first love. Years later, she meets a little girl, a motherless child, and the connection is so deep between them that Maggie ends up marrying Donald, who is the girl's father. Years later she is back in contact with her first love and the decisions she has to make are such that no matter what she does, someone is going to get hurt, and it might be herself.
The story is well told; the backstory seamlessly inserted, the dialogue and characters believable. Maggie valued security and family and stability, but with that came structure and inflexibility and conflict. She wanted a family above all, and for a long time thought she had what she wanted. She finally examines what's underneath, and seeks the help she needs to fight her addictions, and only then can she become the woman she wants to be.
I thought many of the sentences in this book were beautiful. Some I will never forget. I loved this novel, I couldn't stop reading, yet I wanted to save it so it wouldn't end so soon. I'd recommend it to anyone who is enthusiastic about great women's fiction.
Carol Fragale Brill has created complex, appealing characters in her story of missed opportunities and second chances. It surprised me that this is not only a first novel, but self-published. Ms. Brill avoids overwhelming the reader with intrusive exposition and backstory as so many first-time novelists do. Rather, her characters reveal themselves through a myriad of small, delicious details-- Maggie wonders if a cream-colored skirt makes her hips look big; Maggie’s mother blots a teabag and puts it away for a second use.
“Peace by Piece” should appeal to fans of best-selling authors Luanne Rice and Kristin Hannah. There’s plenty of romance, but Ms. Brill addresses more serious subjects as well. Maggie struggles with an eating disorder as well as with regrets about her first love, Thomas. When she marries Izzie’s father, Donald, I wondered whether this was simply a marriage of convenience or whether true love would blossom. I rooted for Maggie as she struggled to overcome her bulimia, complete college, and establish her career.
One nitpick: While the basic plot is timeless, it took me a while to pinpoint exactly when the action takes place. I’ve praised the author for not telling me too much, but I wanted her to tell me that one thing. Through cultural references, I decided it is the early-to-mid 1970s into the ‘80s. Donald is described as “old school,” and I wanted to know just how antiquated his views might be. Maggie, who is in her twenties and thirties during the action of “Peace by Piece,” is an authentic boomer heroine. Her accomplishments as stepmother, student, and teacher draw on the evolving women’s roles of her time.
“Peace by Piece” is not only well-written, it’s well-edited. This is a substantial book—363 pages in the Kindle version I read—and I spotted very few typos, no more than are common in books from the major publishers these days.
I am eager to read Ms. Brill’s second book, “Cape Maybe.”
Maggie, Izzie, Nan and Lilly are really well developed. It felt like I made new friends. I'm hoping Carol decides to write a sequel. Finishing the book left me with the vague sadness I always have after finishing a good book. I want to know more about my new friends. Although the ending was satisfying (and I won't be a spoiler here), it left me wanting more.
Carol's work in Peace by Piece has the same qualities that draw me to my favorite authors, Nora Roberts, Lisa Scottoline, James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks. Her characters are real, the prose paints vivid scenery for the reader without being boring, and the story's pacing is perfect. So, now I will wait impatiently for Carol's next novel to be published.
Carol Fragale Brill is going to be the next big author!!!
Most recent customer reviews
I really liked the feel of this story. The author's writing style is a little different, I can't put my finger on what makes it...Read more