Books by Deborah Smith

Released: March 17, 2017

"Of more journalistic and sociological than literary interest, without the inventiveness of recent writing south of the 38th parallel—but still an important document of witness."
Fugitive fiction—literally—from inside North Korea, devastatingly critical of the Kim dynasty and its workers' paradise. Read full book review >
HUMAN ACTS by Han Kang
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"A fiercely written, deeply upsetting, and beautifully human novel."
The brutal murder of a 15-year-old boy during the 1980 Gwangju Uprising becomes the connective tissue between the isolated characters of this emotionally harrowing novel. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An unusual and mesmerizing novel, gracefully written and deeply disturbing."
In her first novel to be published in English, South Korean writer Han divides a story about strange obsessions and metamorphosis into three parts, each with a distinct voice. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 4, 2002

"Clichéd plot and stereotyped characters won't stand in the way, for those who like them, of the pleasures of a family romance in lush settings."
In her seventh, a southern gothic about family secrets (but no mystery), Smith (On Bear Mountain, 2001, etc.) keeps nothing secret for long—and makes some curious authorial choices in her longwinded revelations of who done it, why, and how all the families are intertwined. Read full book review >
ON BEAR MOUNTAIN by Deborah Smith
Released: Feb. 7, 2001

"Smith (When Venus Fell, 1998, etc) has a real affection for folk artists and rural characters, but even so her story suffers by remaining—well, improbable."
A Brooklyn artist creates a scrap-metal sculpture of a giant bear for a small Georgia community—and, years later, his grieving son heads south to find his father's masterpiece. Read full book review >
WHEN VENUS FELL by Deborah Smith
Released: July 13, 1998

A thick, goopy southern stew from veteran romancer Smith (A Place To Call Home, 1997, etc.), this time involving a touchy pianist, her dreamy sister, and a man fatefully intertwined with them both. Venus Arinelli holds a major grudge against the world: Ever since her left-wing father was accused of a political crime he didn't commit—and died in prison—Venus has been struggling to escape the scrutiny of the FBI while she and sister Ella eke out a meager existence as nightclub performers. Enter Gib Cameron, ex-Marine and Secret Service agent, who has come to persuade the Arinelli sisters to return to his family's historic Tennessee inn. Thirty years earlier, Venus's parents were the first customers at Cameron Hall: They married there, and Venus was conceived on their wedding night. The tattered wedding picture of Venus's parents is the only remnant of her pampered life as a Louisiana quasi-princess. At first she refuses Gib's invitation'she despises his superpatriotic air—but then he reveals that he has money for her, left by her father. Once the sisters are in Tennessee, Ella succumbs to the hospitality heaped on them, while Venus keeps a cool distance from the sexy but brooding Gib. Meanwhile, the Camerons have their own troubles: When Gib and his brother Simon went to the sawmill to cut lumber for replacing the chapel floor, an argument led to a hideous accident—Simon was sawed in two by the blade and Gib's right hand was cruelly maimed. Thus Cameron Hall closed while the family grieved. Cousin Emory now wants to turn it into a resort, while Gib hopes to reopen it as it once was. And all believe that Venus and Ella are the key to the future. . . . A highly improbable storyline, along with an incessant harping on family loyalty, will quickly tire all but romance diehards. Read full book review >
A PLACE TO CALL HOME by Deborah Smith
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

A white-bread take on the stock elements of southern family saga—family secrets, eccentric relatives, the importance of place, and the girl who falls in love with a handsome boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Fourteen-year-old Roanie Sullivan, a motherless boy whose father, Big Roan, is a violent drunk, is an outcast in the small Georgia town of Dunderry. But nine-year-old Claire Maloney, the spoiled daughter of a large, prominent family, springs to his defense—offering him rides to school and helping to clear him when he's accused of stealing money. Despite his traumatic upbringing, Roanie is responsible and upright, and, after Claire's cousin Carlton knocks out some of his teeth in a fight, the Maloneys offer him a home. Roanie works hard around the Maloneys' farm and causes peace to break out between the family's warring matriarchs; meanwhile, he and Claire become best friends and swear a chaste love. Then Claire, seeking help after her Great-Gran has a car accident, stumbles into Big Roan's trailer; he hits her and threatens to rape her before Roanie shows up and shoots his father dead. Roanie is sent to a foster home, while Claire is left to brood about him. Shift then to 20 years later: Roan, who's nursed his passion for Claire but failed to get in touch, has become a millionaire real-estate speculator and adopted a son, Matthew, who, according to rumor, is the illegitimate child of Claire's uncle. When Roan learns that Claire, now a prizewinning reporter, has been badly injured while fleeing a wife-batterer who's angry about one of her stories, he seeks her out. The two fall effortlessly back in love, and the last hundred or so pages can only defer their happiness through red-herring complications. A cloyingly sweet love story whose willful heroine and grudge-bearing hero remain strangely unsympathetic. Read full book review >