Frances Grayson never quite gets over been raised by the overbearing, obsessive and disturbed women in his family. His demons raise their ugly heads, especially with his stepdaughter Elyse who tries desperately to maintain a sense of ‘normalcy’ for herself and her young sister Bean. Aidan Madsen, is not only Frances’ mentor in his musical ambitions, but he is also Frances’ mother’s lover and the anguished keeper of Frances’ dark delusions and murderous secrets.
Author Lee Fullbright weaves a complex and emotional tale about the members of dysfunctional families over several generations. Their actions and personalities intertwine and snake around one another with shocking and lasting repercussions; from the disturbed physically abusive, ear-biting aunts Lothian and Stella, to the manipulative Sahar who discovers the perfect way to keep her husband from leaving her.
Fullbright presents her story through the eyes of three narrators, over a period of about sixty years: Frances, Elyse and Aidan. Each story reveals a different dimension of the elaborate labyrinth of the relationship between the characters. The fact that the stories are not narrated in chronological order makes it a little confusing at times to follow the relationships between the characters; which probably explains why Fullbright includes a concise breakdown of the connections between the different characters in the beginning of the characters.
The Angry Woman Suite features a wide array of diverse characters, which Fullbright depicts magnificently, capturing every detail from the appearance to their mental state for the various cultures and ages. Fullbright’s portrayals of the closeness between Elyse and her Papa is well contrasted with Frances’ frightened anticipation of the abuse he is to receive from his aunts:
“Hot breath on my eyelids. Lips grazing my cheek. I squeezed my eyelids tighter, hoping the tiny teeth would not bite down this time, or at least not too hard.”
Fullbright’s images are powerful and evocative, work hand in hand with her skillful portrayal of the characters to create a haunting element to the dramatic story: “And being dead made a person as perennial as the sky.” Also:
The big picture was huge slices of passion and deceit and those self-created
walls that had kept us separated from ourselves and one another.
The Angry Woman Suite is an unsettling and engrossing read, filled with dark twists and heartbreaking moments.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader