PAINTING JULIANA by Martha Louise Hunter

PAINTING JULIANA

KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman is hit with a hurricane of bad news: Her husband wants a divorce; her father's Alzheimer's is getting worse; her children aren't talking to her. Then she gets a mysterious package of paintings that may shed light on her mother's untimely death in a car accident.

Juliana is dissatisfied. Though she leads a pampered existence as the wife of a prominent Austin attorney, after 14 years their marriage has lost its spark. It might seem that Oliver's verbal abuse and sociopathic behavior (groping her in public, humiliating her among friends) would make Juliana happy to get out, but they decide on counseling. Then, at the first session, he serves her with divorce papers and insists she vacate the family home that evening. He's already told their 14-year-old twins that she's an adulterer, among other lies, so they’re glad to see her go. Without money of her own, Juliana retreats first to her brother’s house and then to her father’s when he’s taken to the hospital with a possible stroke. While Juliana is fixing up her childhood home—and trying to get back in Oliver’s good graces—a mysterious package arrives: a crate of paintings, made by her father, sent from a New York gallery. Juliana is stunned; her father was a fusty old CPA who gave no indication that he was an artist. Meanwhile, Oliver tells her he wants to reconcile (it's a trick), her friends have turned their backs (just as well—a couple of them are sleeping with Oliver), and she’s drinking one too many glasses of chardonnay. The novel’s implausible climax, in which a recurring dream from childhood comes true, enables Juliana to recover her identity, but nothing she does seems to flow from her character—it only serves to further the plot.

Convoluted and overwritten (no detail is left undescribed), Hunter’s first effort is a disappointment.

Pub Date: May 20th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-930584-62-4
Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Goldminds
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014




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