BookLife Prize in Fiction
- by Tracey Lewis-Giggetts and Marcella McCoy-Deh
Francine, an adjunct professor at a Philadelphia area college, supplements her income with jobs as a phone sex operator and a bartender when an opportunity to conduct research in Ghana leads to an opportunity for self-reflection. Francine’s plight as a downtrodden professor is somewhat flimsy, but this slim romantic novel has some fun moments in the first half. However, several loose ends and odd shifts in point-of-view will frustrate some readers, as will the sped-up, too-tidy ending.
- by Nicole Evelina
This ambitious historical novel traces the remarkable life story of nineteenth-century spiritualist, suffragist, stockbroker, editor, and presidential candidate Victoria Woodhull from her childhood through her arrest on obscenity charges and her eventual move to England. The novelist’s extensive historical research is evident, although the narrative’s ample length, numerous historical details, and broad temporal canvas detracts from character and thematic development, and fictional elements such as imagined sex scenes and invented dialogue at times feel forced. The author seems torn between the desires to write a biography and a novel.
- by Jennifer Wixson
Wixson's cozy, often saccharine novel moves between the present-day story of small-town pastor Maggie and that of Jana Hastings's youth in 1941. Both Maggie and 88-year-old Miss Hastings are dying, but it's hard to believe Maggie would choose not to fight her cancer. Meanwhile, while colorful, the tales and personalities of the inhabitants of Sovereign, Maine, display the same cheerful charm of a Hallmark movie. Fans of the Mitford series might enjoy this, but not readers looking for an unpredictable plot.
- by Julie Frayn
In this predictable crime novel set in Canada, Mazie Reynolds gets out of an abusive marriage by killing her husband and going on the run with her 12 year old daughter, Ariel. Readers may find Mazie’s situation too contrived – what are the chances that the stranger she meets, Norman Day, is a criminal defense lawyer? While the novel might offer hope to victims of domestic violence, characters lack depth and development.
- by peggy winnett
Hannah leaves her Bay Area home to teach English at a Chinese university, leaving behind her boyfriend Ben. The author paints a good picture of work both rewarding and bewildering, of the challenges of loneliness and adapting to a vastly different culture. The book falls short when it comes to integrating the two main plot lines: the experience in China and the relationship with Ben. The supporting characters could be more fully fleshed, and a stronger focus is needed on showing over telling.
- by Kerry Reis
This novel about a family in crisis is unfortunately filled with the predictable elements: a son battling his heritage; a loving wife, overcoming the shock of her husband's real identity; a brokenhearted mother; and children trying to understand all that's swirling around them. Emotions run strong as each family member fights for a place in the new order of things, but the emotions don't always ring true or delve deep enough.