At a party thrown by his wife’s PTA friend, Glen Hanley makes a reckless choice. Terri Moore’s life has finally settled after an unexpected divorce, until her son reveals stunning news. Elderly and alone, Mrs. Hallowicz finds solace in her flowerbeds and pet turtle, but the pain of a long-buried tragedy threatens to unhinge her.
In Mary Vensel White’s “novel-in-moments,” a kaleidoscope of scenes and stories span the lifetimes of these three characters and the network of family and friends connecting them. On the shaky ground of California, foundations can suddenly shift. Bellflower is about the mysteries of fate and chance, the delicate balance of relationships, and the resilient human spirit that keeps us striving to complete our own stories, in our own way.
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, Finding Charlie, Monsoon Season
“A haunting and provocative debut.” ~ 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