In the middle of a horrific night, Katherine Stuart barely escapes being murdered by her abusive husband in the kitchen of their suburban Boston home. In the aftermath of utter loss and devastation, Katherine is sought out by Lucy Dudley, an elderly woman living on a family farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, who reads about Katherine in the news and is drawn to her by a closely guarded history of her own. Katherine, unable to bear the accusing eyes of her family, accepts Lucy's invitation to come to Vermont, setting in motion a deepening relationship between the two women that frames a universal struggle to heal and reclaim what severe trauma takes from people's lives.
This beautiful, brave, and liberating book is a triumph of the spirit. Engrossing and exquisitely written, it shines with rare courage and a tender, life-saving wisdom that comes only through facing the darkness we suffer or inflict on others. It is a marvelous story whose characters I am glad to have in my life.
Author, World as Lover, World as Self
Allan Johnson's illumination of the mind of a woman recovering from horrific abuse and loss is miraculous, carried by a story that is both gripping and inspiring. It is a stunning achievement.
Creator of the award-winning film series, Killing Us Softly
Allan Johnson's writing is moving, insightful, and deeply human. He takes us inside painful lives with courageous truth-telling, yet at the same time takes us inside of characters who can heal and thrive. This is a novel that rings true, and that we need urgently to take into our hearts.
Author, Why Does He Do That?
The First Thing and the Last portrays an extraordinary woman who is brutalized - but the abuse becomes her sorrow and not her identity in Allan Johnson's complex, masterful and exacting understanding of such a woman's life. His ability and willingness to see so deeply, to portray a woman and her story so profoundly, takes our breath away. Welcome this extraordinary and most original novelist to the ranks of American literature.
Poet, novelist, and author of Writing For Your Life
408 pages, $22.95
408 pages, $28.95
Fiction : General, Literary, Contemporary Women
Social Science : Women's Studies - General