Circle of Three: A Novel

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9780061098369: Circle of Three: A Novel

Newly widowed, Carrie is overwhelmed by the guilt of knowing her marriage died long before her husband's fatal heart attack. Struggling to go on for the sake of her teenaged daughter, Ruth, and her overly possessive mother, Dana, Carrie slowly emerges from the sorrow that has embraced her and begins to pull her life together, with help from an unexpected source. Jess, Carrie's first love, re-enters her world and offers her the lifeline that will help her pull herself out of the drowning place she's been in.

Inspired with new purpose, and a passion she thought she'd never have again, Carrie must find a way to weave her new life -- and love -- into a family struggling with their own pain and disappointment, who find her newfound happiness a threat to their own precarious balance.

Wise, moving, and heartbreakingly real, Circle of Three offers women a deeper understanding of one another, of themselves, and of the perplexing and invigorating magic that is life itself.

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Review:

Patricia Gaffney's remarkable talent for describing the bittersweet connections between mothers and daughters makes the novel Circle of Three a mesmerizing study of three generations of women challenged by their shifting relationships and developing self-identities. With her ability to capture the essence of the timeless conflict of mothers' and daughters' various hopes and frustrations and the overall need for an intense connection with family, Gaffney's novel will appeal to readers of many ages.

The lives of grandmother Dana, mother Carrie, and daughter Ruth are instantly altered by the untimely death of Carrie's husband, Stephen. Having recently returned to her hometown in rural Virginia, Carrie had just begun to recognize and express her dissatisfaction in her bland marriage. Stephen's death tips Carrie into a deep depression, and 15-year-old Ruth feels as if she has lost both her mother and her father. Determined to get Carrie back on track, Dana encourages her to accept a job. As Carrie begins to emerge from her depression, she finds solace in the company of her old flame, Jess, and her work as a wooden menagerie designer for a local religious group called the Arkists. When Carrie refuses to return to her old patterns, both Ruth and Dana struggle to adapt to this change and develop their own new approaches to life.

With moments of quirky humor, realistic dialogue, and classic romance, Circle of Three does a tremendous job of describing the complex and conflicting process of growing up--at any age. This novel is sure to linger in your mind for months and to make the lending rounds between moms, daughters, sisters, and friends. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien

From the Back Cover:

Few authors can capture with such grace and power the spirit and strength of women and the complexities of their relationships as Patricia Gaffney. Her sensational national bestseller, The Saving Graces, won the hearts of readers everywhere and propelled her into the first ranks of contemporary women writers with its vivid characterizations and brilliant depiction of the delicate yet resilient bonds of female friendship.

Now this gifted writer turns inward to illuminate the silken bonds of family in Circle of Three. Through the interconnected lives of three generations of women in a small town in rural Virginia, this poignant, memorable novel reveals the layers of tradition and responsibility, commitment and passion these women share.

"Can grief last for a person's whole life?" That is the question Carrie struggles to answer after the sudden death of her husband. For Carrie, grief and guilt are twofold: Though she mourns her husband, she also mourns the death of their love-an emotional erosion that occurred long before her husband's heart gave out. Struggling to go on, to support her vivacious, loving fifteen-year-old daughter, Carrie slowly shakes off the sorrow and depression that embrace her and begins a new life.

Complicating matters is Carrie's mother, Dana, an industrious, snobbish, yet sympathetic woman who tries to do what's best for herself and, unfortunately, for Carrie as well. It was fear of her mother's disapproval that drove Carrie away from her unforgotten first love, the soulful, passionate Jess, who has now re-entered her life.

Little does Carrie realize that her mother suffers miseries of her own. For Dana life is still as mysterious as it was in early youth. Like her only daughter, Dana has lived within the confines of a silent marriage, and she, too, mourns a painful loss-the disintegration of her relationship with Carrie. "I'd give anything for the closeness we used to have. I love my daughter more than anyone else on this earth, but she won't let me in."

At the end point of these two generations is Ruth, who silently copes with a double tragedy of her own, the loss of what she can never know-a real relationship with her father-and the emotional abandonment of her mother. "She's still got me, but she's about half the mother I used to have. When Dad died I lost him and part of her. I'm almost an orphan." A precocious girl quivering on the brink of womanhood, she is eager to discover who she is and what life holds, even if that knowledge will draw her away from the people she loves.

Through their stories, Patricia Gaffney explores the dichotomies inherent in all women's relationships-the tears and laughter, despair and hope, misunderstanding and compassion, anger and love-that sometimes divide them yet ultimately bind them together. Wise, moving, and heartbreakingly real, Circle of Three offers women of all ages a deeper understanding of each other, of themselves, and of the perplexing and invigorating magic that is life itself.

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