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The Taste of Air Paperback – September 13, 2016
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"A captivating story filled with mystery, suspense, love, longing and family."
~Readers' Favorite (5 STARS - Silver Medal / 2017 Book Awards)
"A compelling portrait of three memorable women and the unique bond that exists between mothers and daughters."
~Booked Solid (5 STARS)"One of the greatest riddles, it turns out, is aparent's real life, the one not shown to children. ...Skillfuldialogueas well as brisk pacing and an effective resolution."
"This is that kind of book, one so real and important that it bears at least a second reading - after the first sinks in."
~Grady Harp, San Francisco Review of Books (Amazon Top 100 Reviewer - 5 STARS)
"While I enjoyed The Taste of Air for the story, full of suspense, mystery, and drama, which kept me entertained, it also got me thinking."
~Big Al's Books and Pals (5 STARS)
"A family saga bridging decades and filled with shocking revelations, hope and love, you won't be able put this book down."
"The Taste of Air is an engaging story about what our mothers teach us. When Nell and Bridget start pulling at the thread of their mother'sdeceptions, their own worlds unravel."
~Katie O'Rourke, Amazon bestselling author
"This is a book to choose as a companion for curling up on a sofa on a darkwinter day or for laying on the beach in the summer...character-drivenfiction at its best."
~Ann Warner, author of The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club series
"Gail Cleare's mesmerizing new novel...will make you see your own life with new eyes and leave you transformed."
~Jamie Cat Callan, author of Bonjour, Happiness!
"My first thought after finishing The Taste of Air was that this was an incredibly satisfying novel. "
~Bibliotica (5 STARS)
About the Author
USA Today bestselling author Gail Cleare has written for newspapers, magazines, Fortune 50 companies and AOL. Her award-winning ad agency represented the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was the turtle Leonardo's date for the world premiere of the second TMNT movie, and got to wear a black evening gown and sparkly shoes. Gail lives on an 18th century farm in Massachusetts with her family and dogs, cats, chickens, black bears, blue herons, rushing streams and wide, windy skies. She's into organic gardening and nature photography, and can often be found stalking wild creatures with a 300 mm lens.
Follow her at facebook/GailCleareAuthor or on Twitter @gcleare, or visit her website at gailcleare.com.
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One of the reasons Gail’s book works so well is the accessible, down to earth language she uses to mold her creative prose. The opening of her book rattles windows and allows suggestions of secrets that will bloom as the book unfolds – ‘Nell ~ 2014 Her day began with reassuring rituals. Make the beds, start a load of laundry, empty the dishwasher. After lining up shiny crystal tumblers inside the glass-fronted cabinets, she filled the upper shelves with neatly nested plates, bowls, and cups. Her finger found a chipped edge, and she tossed the imperfect saucer into the garbage. It was expensive china, but she would order a replacement. The house always looked fresh, with cut flowers on the dining room table. It smelled of roses and sandalwood. When Nell walked through her beautiful, decluttered, well-organized home, balance and serenity followed. She had pulled on a jacket and was typing a grocery list on her cell phone when it rang. Nell didn’t recognize the caller ID but answered just in case, as she knew good mothers did. “Eleanor Williams?” Not the school. They never call me that. “Yes?” She didn’t feel like being patient with a telemarketer and reached for the off button. “Mrs. Williams, I’m calling about your mother, Mary Ellen Reilly.” An elevator bell sounded in the background, and a voice was talking over an intercom. Nell frowned and put the phone back to her ear. “What about her?” “This is Hartland General Hospital in Vermont. Sorry to call with bad news, but your mother is in our intensive care unit.” This had to be some kind of weird mistake. “You must have the wrong person. My mother lives in Massachusetts. I just talked to her yesterday.”
The synopsis Gail provides places the map before us: ‘A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’ well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home. After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met. When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three women.’
At books end Gail endears us with an Author’s Note – ‘There is a real place called Hartland, Vermont. I have borrowed the name and surrounding landscape for this story, but the town and its inhabitants are totally imaginary.’ This is that kind of book, on so real and important that it bears at least a second reading – after the first sinks in. Grady Harp, January 17
This book is free on Kindle Unlimited.
The narrative, all in third person POV, bounces around between adult sisters Nell and Bridget in the present, and their mother, Mary, at different times in her life. Nell receives a phone call that her mother is ill and is hospitalized in a small town in Vermont. But her mother lives in Massachusetts, in a senior community where staff are supposed to check on her from time to time. So why was she in Vermont?
When Nell arrives in Vermont, she learns that her mother owned a lakeside cottage, still has her car but with Vermont tags on it now, has a dog, and has neighbors who appear to be very close friends. While Nell is visiting her mother's hospital bedside and meeting her mom's friends, her older sister Bridget is making plans to divorce her husband while trying to get a flight to Vermont.
The story has a very coming-of-age feel to it, despite the fact that Nell and Bridget are in their 40's. As the sisters begin unraveling their mother's secrets, they also begin coming to some realizations about their own lives. Meanwhile, the chapters that focus on Mary give us, the reader, some insight into her character, and we learn things about her past that the sisters don't know or have not yet discovered. It was an interesting balance, as it sometimes put us a step ahead of Nell and Bridget.
The only sour spot for me was in Bridget's quest to find the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was a teenager.
Quote: “Many years later,” Bridget said quietly, “I found out I would probably never have any more children. It was the punishment I earned for giving her up.”
I work in the adoption field, and seeing adoption portrayed negatively, well, when I read lines like that I just cringe. I have to remind myself that it was different times than now. I'm still not sure if I like the way that subplot played out in the end or not. It isn't feasible that an adoption could happen that way today, at least not with the agency I'm with, but I guess thirty years ago it could have.
When Nell and Bridget finally figure out the biggest secret, which the reader will have already learned from reading Mary's chapters (and when I was pretty sure I had it figured out I got kind of an icky feeling which I can't explain here without giving away too much plot) it seemed to suddenly come to them a little quickly, but I was sure glad they finally knew the complete truth. You grow up thinking you know your mother, and sometimes you forget that she had a childhood and a life before you came along. It made me wonder not only about my own mother, but also wonder what my daughters would think about my life if, for instance, they came across my old diaries and learned things about me that I've never told them. Things I probably won't ever tell them, not necessarily because they're bad things, but just because they're in my past.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the book and was happy with the way everything wrapped up. A quite engaging and intriguing story.
Most recent customer reviews
At least the truth comes out and family gets bigger and better