Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pg. 99: Pat MacEnulty's "From May To December"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Pat MacEnulty's From May To December.

About the book, from the publisher:
Four women are on a collision course: Jen is a former porn actor trying to fit into the world of academia while her sister, Lolly has been diagnosed with cancer; Nicole is a budding writer in prison for loving the wrong guy and Sonya is an imprisoned member of a family of travelling criminals, desperately missing her young son.

Their lives converge in a Florida prison where Jen and Lolly have joined forces to put on a grant-funded drama production. As Jen works with these women, who are struggling to regain some sense of dignity in their lives, she begins to confront and accept her own past. Meanwhile, Lolly finds she is a hero to the prisoners, but that doesn’t make up for the way her sister resents her and the attention her illness brings.

Each must make decisions that dramatically affect the lives of others, and in the process find some kind of redemption. Written with empathy and insight, From May to December is a powerful follow-up to MacEnulty’s previous novel Time to Say Goodbye.
Among the praise for the novel and its predecessor, Time To Say Goodbye:
"MacEnulty has created a warm, believable cast of flawed, utterly human characters for this “feel good” tale that points out the consequences of drugs, misplaced love and bad choices while showing the power of love."
--Sandy Amazeen

"[T]he novel reveals the behaviour of people involved with crime, and the consequences of what they did. MacEnulty shows us the hardships of prison life, the ways of coping, and the compromises in a way no outsider could. We believe what she tells us, as she draws on what were her own experiences on both sides of the system. Switching between the inner vision of each of her characters with skill and ease, she develops the story in spare and immediate prose. Without descending to the maudlin, she deals with what could be sad and depressing lives in an inspirational way. So much so that even in death there is an upbeat message of hope."
--Tangled Web UK

book full of hope, of the strength and beginnings. There is strong emotion through out the book but it is not a sappy, mushy, 'poor pitiful us' emotion. Instead MacEnulty's strong writing ability brings it above the emotion to form a full bodied story that leaves a lasting impression. She is able to lead readers into the lives of her characters by slowing revealing their stories, unfolding the details one by one to open a panorama of survival and substance. She draws tears and cheers for her women through deft plotting and in depth character development, a triumph of heart blended with talent. A winning combination."
--Barb Radmore

"It's terrific…Time To Say Goodbye is perfectly paced … riveting."
--The Times

Time To Say Goodbye] is a cracking novel well worth seeking out … first class."
--Independent on Sunday
Read about From May to December and learn more about the author and her work at Pat MacEnulty's website and her blog.

MacEnulty is the author of four books as well as numerous short stories, essays, poems and plays. She is also a teacher, workshop leader, writing coach and freelance editor.

The Page 99 Test: From May To December.

--Marshal Zeringue