• Fiction & Literature

Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish's new story collection, Our Love Could Light The World (She Writes Press, 2013) was a finalist in this year's International Book Awards. Her debut collection, All The Roads That Lead From Home (Press 53, 2011) won a silver medal in the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards. Her short stories have won numerous honors and awards, and have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, The Pinch, r.kv.r.y., C4, Crab Orchard Review, Prime Number, Whiskey Paper, Nomos Review, and StoryGlossia, among other publication.  ...See more >

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"Parrish weaves linked, darkly humorous tales of aging, death, love and alcoholism using the gothic tropes of Southern literary fiction."

Kirkus Reviews


International Book Awards, 2013: Our Love Could Light The World


Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1-61296-839-1
Page count: 224pp

Three women of different generations and backgrounds meet at a retirement home in award-winning author Parrish’s latest novel (By the Wayside, 2017, etc.).

Ninety-two-year-old Constance Maynard, a resident of the Lindell Retirement Home, is a former professor and early feminist who now finds herself diminished by old age and by her difficult relationship with the woman she raised as a daughter. Eunice, a small, wiry woman in her 50s, has worked at Lindell since she was a young woman, after she lost her inheritance on a fake real estate deal for the home’s site. Her unhappy, alcoholic parents did not model a good relationship for her, and consequently, she wasted years and money on men who cruelly used her. Sam, a good-hearted, caring woman in her 20s, sees herself as large and ungainly. Reared by cold maternal grandparents and a single mom who claimed to be the victim of a rape, she now finds solace in reading poetry. Ultimately, each woman finds some degree of peace in the present, although readers may find the outcome of elderly Constance’s story to be predictable. In three sections told from each woman’s point of view, readers learn about each of their lives and how they view one another, which adds depth to their individual stories. Although the book is billed as a feminist novel with “themes of reproductive rights,” these themes aren’t well-developed beyond their direct relevance to the plot; for example, Sam’s birth resulted from a teenage pregnancy, and the woman Constance brought up as her daughter was actually her half sister by a mentally unstable mother. That said, the book does effectively address themes of social and educational inequality, particularly when comparing the life of Constance, a history professor with a doctorate from Brown University, with those of uneducated Eunice and Sam.

An enjoyable, thought-provoking story but one that doesn’t fully explore its themes.

Pub Date:
Page count: 202pp

Parrish weaves linked, darkly humorous tales of aging, death, love and alcoholism using the gothic tropes of Southern literary fiction.

In the story “And To the Ones Left Behind,” a woman named Patty sets out on a mission to win her brother’s wife back for him. Patty believes she can find and deliver Lavinia by giving her a newfound sense of gratitude for the relationship. This misconception proves comical, however, as Patty faces her own vulnerabilities; she thought she knew her brother inside and out, but once she sees her brother’s shambling house and excessive drinking habits, she quickly realizes that Lavinia may have been right to leave. However, at the story’s heart, Patty recognizes the bond of siblinghood that overlooks such flaws in favor of the good. Other stories in the collection similarly offer glimpses of desolation, only to point out the light in the darkness. As Parrish cleverly links her stories, creating a rich world of haphazard relationships and beautiful messes, characters appear as heroes in some tales and struggle in others. Some stories feel more like portraits than plots, as she paints scenes and develops characters’ desires through summary and brush stroke rather than through actions or events, while bringing a sense of light to the ending of each story. However, the collection often relies on summary to cover too much ground; at times, readers may hunger for more intense moments of dialogue or close-up examinations of images and experiences. That said, this collection will speak to readers who are interested in its butterfly effect of family bonds and interactions.

A successful collage of linked stories set in a rich, dysfunctional world.


Literary Women's Fiction

Acts of Concealment presents four generations of women and their experience with faith. My inspiration is the story of my own grandparents, who came to this country in 1920 so my grandfather could take a teaching position at Huron College in South Dakota. My mother inherited a menorah that she always said belonged to her mother, which is curious because her mother was Armenian and raised as a Catholic. My grandfather was Swiss, and and declared himself a strict Calvinist. His last name was Jacob. I suspect that he was in fact Jewish, and pressured my grandmother into assuming that identity. Her Middle Eastern appearance made that guise plausible. In the novel, Anna, the wife, quickly tires of the ruse she's agreed to accept and leaves town with a younger man, Olaf Lund. They settle in Chicago. There, Anna meets two Muslim women who live in the same tenement, and confronts the suffering she endured in Constantinople at the hands of the Turks. Olaf commits a crime in order to steal a large sum of money. This fortune lets them buy and renovate a boarding house. They never marry. Their only child, Lorraine, takes an interest in very little, until one day she is seized by the idea of God. She is fervent in her devotion. A guest of the boarding house, Joseph Swinn, is an itinerant Baptist preacher from Ohio. At seventeen, Lorraine runs away to join him. She lives in poverty the rest of her life. They have two daughters, Faith and Hope. The girls are seldom in school. When Faith, the elder, comes to the attention of both the police and social workers, the tree women move from Coshocton, Ohio to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Lorraine continues her religious work at various missions out-of-state, leaving the girls on their own for long stretches of time. The sisters find a sort of balance. At the age of twenty-one, each changes her name to further rid themselves of the stigma of their mother. Faith become Freddie, short for Frederica, and Hope becomes Holly. They marry within a year of one another. Holly moves to Minneapolis. Freddie remains in Sioux Falls. Each carries within her the legacy of religious fanaticism. Freddie has a daughter, Beth, who grows up defiant and restless. She leaves her boring middle-class life for Las Vegas, where she works as an exotic dancer. Of the many men she attracts, the one who wins her heart is an Episcopal priest, who is having his own crisis of faith. Holly suffers a physical and spiritual setback when her dead mother drops by with a message. Freddie brings the voice of reason to her side. Soon, though, it's Freddie's acceptance of her own past, and her personal religious bent, that become the novel's fulcrum and focus. The non-linear narrative which flows back and forth in time underscores memory itself, and making sense of previously unknown truths.

Literary Fiction, short stories

Eleven short stories about lives gone wrong, set in the fiction town of Dunston, New York

ISBN: 9781935708414
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