Bellflower rushes forward with the frantic pace of our modern times, while at once standing still in the grace of seemingly random moments that can shift a life’s course without warning. Told in Vensel White’s dazzling, clear-eyed prose, Bellflower is as sharp as it is nuanced, as nostalgic as it is foretold. These layered stories are filled with a yearning to uncover where the characters have been, and with an openhearted longing, accept all that is still to come. A small gem of a novel, each vignette comes as a surprise, and each is a testament to how, just like in life, everything is woven and fused and pulling toward the other. ~ Deborah Reed, author of The Days When Birds Come Back

I was intrigued by the overlapping stories of Bellflower, and yet found I was compelled to read them in order; that is, I read all the Hanley chapters first, then Moore, then Hallowicz. In this book, with this method, I was given the option to stay with the characters and so I did. All the scenes in Bellflower are vivid and well-wrought; I was truly impressed by how quickly Vensel White drew the reader into these lives. A unique and powerful book. I will think about these characters for a long time. ~ Jessica Francis Kane, author of Rules for Visiting

Mary Vensel White is an expert at creating original, believable characters you can root for in a paragraph or less–a skill that comes in handy when writing a novel that is a series of vignettes. Each story is exquisite on its own, but after you’ve read a few, you’ll see this is a collection of pieces that fit together to make a greater, more meaningful whole. The character you fell in love with in the beginning, who you were sorry to see go, will turn up again. These are the defining moments of these characters’ lives: the cancer scare, the mid-life crisis affair, the paternity test results that seem like the end of the world. Bellflower tells these stories about the human condition and reminds us that, in the end, we’re all connected. ~ Katie O’ Rourke, author of Blood & Water

Mary Vensel White has written a novel that captures the quiet poetry and repressed anguish of family life, much in the way Anne Tyler or Richard Yates can do, but with an experimental format that proves to be true to the nature of how memory works. A remarkable feat. ~ Scott Pack, author of Weightless Fireworks


“A haunting and provocative debut.”FINAL QualitiesOfWood pb c ~ Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

“Slowly a small town’s secrets come to light in a story that skits a fine line between mystery and psychological suspense.” ~ Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“An ominous and psychological novel that manages both artful prose and an eerie plot.” ~ Linnie Greene, Flyleaf Books

The Qualities of Wood grabbed me right away and held me in its thrall until the final page. The writing is tensely crafted and beautifully precise.” ~ Wendy Lawless, author of Chanel Bonfire

“How little we know our loved ones until faced with their families, both living and dead… Mary Vensel White has packed a hornets’ nest of intrigue in The Qualities of Wood.” ~ Leslie Lehr, author of What a Mother Knows