by Maria Fernandez Snitzer
Author Reputation Press

"After all, the climate and conditions for a storm were always present in the atmosphere."

The author, a Louisiana native, writes elegantly of the literal and metaphorical storms that batter the generations in this literary family drama. The story opens as protagonist Elise Charleville Steiner dreams of the calm her maternal grandmother, Lala, always displayed, knowing that life had a way of returning to normal after any storm. As the author’s debut novel wends its circuitous path through both ordinary and emotionally fraught family scenes over the next week, a powerful hurricane sweeps across the Caribbean, with landfall predicted near Elise’s community of Bayou Chouteau. It is a study of action and reaction.

As Elise and her family prepare to evacuate, she reflects upon more generational mysteries. Particularly haunting is Elise’s cousin Jacqui’s unrequited love affair, whose ending makes no sense until flashbacks spiral like storm systems through the present-day elements of the tale, reflecting the story themes of stormy disruption and coping with adjustments. This is not a simple, straightforward story, and the challenge of following Elise’s mother and aunt as they navigate the emotional storms of their past and present is made more impressive through the vivid characterizations, engrossing situations, and capable prose. This title brings to mind some charming yet tragedy-laden stories featuring Southern women by author Fannie Flagg and playwright Robert Harling.

The monstrous hurricane undergoes a sudden transformation and makes landfall as a tropical storm in Mississippi. But Elise is battered nonetheless upon discovering her Aunt Kitty’s role in perpetuating an untruth about her cousin Jacqui’s true paternity. Hers was a practical decision turned heartless and cruel through the vagaries of feminine survival in male-dominated, mid-twentieth century Louisiana. Ultimately, life’s storms don’t quite disappear, as the author articulately and definitively demonstrates, but like the unpredictable hurricane and family issues, they are transmuted and recycled instead. The author’s engaging novel is sure to generate acclaim.

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