Books by Valerie Martin

CATS ALOFT by Lisa Martin
Released: Dec. 27, 2016

"Feline aficionados may love the cat characters, but the 'mystery' won't leave them purring. (Fantasy. 8-11)"
Cat brothers Anton and Cecil are on the road again…or above it, as the case may be. Read full book review >
SEA LOVERS by Valerie Martin
Released: Aug. 18, 2015

"Varied, engaging, and often shocking."
A career-spanning collection of short stories that illustrates the writer's preoccupation with animals, artists, and the fantastical. Read full book review >
THE GHOST OF THE <i>MARY CELESTE</i> by Valerie Martin
Released: Jan. 28, 2014

"Martin has wound the disparate threads of her novel into a haunting personal drama."
Martin (The Confessions of Edward Day, 2009, etc.) offers a complex, imaginative version of historical fiction, playing literary hide-and-seek with the unsolved mystery surrounding an American cargo vessel found abandoned in the Azores in 1872. Read full book review >
CATS AT SEA by Lisa Martin
Released: Oct. 8, 2013

"Cat lovers will be sorry to see Anton and Cecil suffer indifference and outright abuse from sailors and pirates, as well as facing other dangers, but they're still not likely to care overmuch about the eventual resolution. (Fantasy. 9-12)"
This collaboration by a respected author of literary fiction and her niece, an educator and writer of poetry for children, is an odd mix of talking cats, oceangoing adventure and mystical events. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 11, 2009

"Occasional sharp insights, but the book is not as strong as some of Martin's previous efforts."
Actors have difficulty distinguishing performance from life in Martin's latest (Trespass, 2007, etc.). Read full book review >
TRESPASS by Valerie Martin
Released: Sept. 18, 2007

"A brilliant must-read from Martin (The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories, 2006, etc.), who captures the zeitgeist of contemporary America within a deeply personal context."
What seems at first a tightly focused domestic drama about a middle-aged couple's reaction to their son's new girlfriend broadens onto a large socio-political canvas as liberal values run smack into fear of foreign invasiveness. Read full book review >
PROPERTY by Valerie Martin
Released: Feb. 18, 2003

"A nimble, enlightening and horrific story about the morally corrosive effects of slavery and one childish soul, locked in a cycle of permanent bitterness."
A slave rebellion is about to erupt, and all one woman can think about is her failing marriage. Read full book review >
SALVATION by Valerie Martin
Released: March 13, 2001

"Martin observes that she is not a Catholic or particularly religious, not a scholar of medieval Italy, 'not even a man.' Nevertheless, her nuanced, thoughtful portrait of the medieval Italian reformer, so torn between manhood and sainthood, will be of great appeal to many."
Literate, sympathetic vignettes from the life of St. Francis of Assisi. Read full book review >
ITALIAN FEVER by Valerie Martin
Released: July 1, 1999

The awakening (in more senses than one) of an American woman in Italy is the familiar subject of this stylish though overattenuated sixth novel from the author of such inventive fictions as Mary Reilly (1990) and The Great Divorce (1994). The woman is Lucy Stark, a 30ish independent scholar whose work as "assistant" to a lowbrow popular novelist (identified as "DV—) requires her presence in Tuscany to arrange a funeral after DV's accidental death. A "practical, reliable" sort and a disillusioned divorcÇe who "had come to prefer liberty to passion," Lucy nevertheless gradually surrenders to Tuscany's gustatory and sensual pleasures, falling into an affair with her Italian contact, Massimo Compitelli. Like a very Victorian heroine, Lucy sees (or hallucinates) a ghost or two, and even more intriguingly discovers a startlingly expressionist drawing of a recognizable DV in agony, a "nightmarish vision" perhaps created by DV's most recent mistress, artist Catherine Bultman, who has unaccountably disappeared. Recovering slowly from an enervating fever (and more slowly from her infatuation with the manipulative Massimo), Lucy eventually sorts out the connections among the aforementioned secondary characters, DV's unfinished manuscript (a ghost story with a disturbing basis in reality), and the suspiciously urbane Antonio Cini, scion of an aristocratic family with tangled roots in Italy's embattled Fascist and "Partisan" history. Martin keeps us hooked on several interrelated puzzles for most of her story's length (though Lucy's interlude in Rome drags annoyingly, despite numerous dramatic disclosures) and climaxes it smartly following a viewing of Pierro della Francesca's sublime "Resurrection——with a credibly intricate explanation of why and how the unfortunate DV "got lost in Italy forever—. An efficient entertainment, with agreeable echoes of Forster, James, and perhaps Elizabeth Spencer's The Light in the Piazza. Not Martin's most original work, therefore, but one of her most accomplished. (First printing of 50,000) Read full book review >
THE GREAT DIVORCE by Valerie Martin
Released: March 2, 1994

Martin's first novel since Mary Reilly (1990) masterfully weaves together three tales about the great divorce between two women— separated by 150 years—and their husbands, and between the human species and the rest of nature. Ellen Clayton is a New Orleans zoo veterinarian whose writer husband Paul's affections are cooling again because he's found a younger lover. But this time it's different: Paul's fallen in love with his mistress and dreams of divorce. Much of the time he's away from Ellen and their daughters, Celia and Lillian, he's actually spending with Donna, but when he's working, it's on a book about ``cat woman'' Elisabeth Schlaeger—the only white woman ever executed in Louisiana after killing her wealthy husband Hermann in 1845. Elisabeth's story, which soon detaches itself from Paul, unfolds in an inexorable pattern of domination by a cruel, fascinated husband determined to assert his mastery over her. Back in the present, Camille, the keeper of the zoo's wild cats, contemplates her affinity with an ailing black leopard named Magda—a bonding so close it echoes Elisabeth's claim that she killed Hermann after her spirit entered the body of a great black cat—as she stumbles through a procession of beastly gropings that pass for love. All three agonized heroines (four, if you count Magda) wrestle with the paradox of a civilization whose mores sink its members ever deeper into savagery. Though it lacks the high concept of Mary Reilly—the cat woman is no match for Jekyll and Hyde's maid—Martin's novel gathers a quietly, painfully gripping force. Read full book review >