Readers who enjoy the novels of writers such as Barbara Kingsolver and E. Annie Proulx will love Laura Hrie, whose prizewinning story collection, Stygo, launched her literary career in 1994. Now, Hrie has delivered a major novel featuring the wily and tenacious twenty-nine-year-old Rose Devonic, a character as memorable, unorthodox, and engaging as any in recent fiction. Rose lives in the tiny mountain town of Queduro, New Mexico, where she--like almost all the inhabitants of the town--makes her living by selling embroidery. However, Rose has no home and no family. In winter she sleeps in one of the cold cabins in a mostly abandoned motel, in summer she lives out of her car. A tragedy in her past, which serves as a constant reminder to her neighbors of their complicity, has made her an outcast. Determined as she is to make a fresh start, Rose's past threatens constantly to engulf her. Only by facing down her ghosts-and her hometown-will she learn how to accept the ultimately liberating challenges of belonging, identity, and love.
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Embroidery is the central metaphor in Laura Hendrie's absorbing and offbeat first novel, Remember Me (functioning much as quilting does in Whitney Otto's How to Make an American Quilt). The title is taken from an old American sampler: "When this you see, Remember me," and each chapter begins with an aphorism from an antique sampler. The book's eccentric heroine, 29-year-old Rose Devonic, often expresses herself in Nouveau Sampler: "Let go of where you belong and who you belong with and you're lost," she claims. But Rose is an outcast in her hometown, Queduro, New Mexico--"nothing more than a few dozen Spanish, English and Anglo families who know each other too well--three bicycles, one tractor, five horses, no church, no school, no paved roads..." Though she has lived here all her life, the locals have never accepted her. "She wouldn't go to church, she didn't wear clean clothes or brush her hair, she borrowed money and gave away gifts and napped in public..." More important, Rose doesn't show the proper dedication and respect to the craft of embroidery.
In Queduro, needlework is God, especially to the "inheritance embroiderers," who own patterns handed down for generations, for which tourists will pay up to "twenty grand a pop." Rose is too ornery, and too damaged by paralyzing tragedy in her past, to toe the line. She fights off help from handsome, kind Sheriff Frank Doby, who has loved her since childhood, but has his own crosses to bear. Alive with remarkable characters, surprising plot twists, and laugh-out-loud humor, in a voice that speaks straight from the heart, Remember Me illuminates an uncommon young woman's struggle to survive on her own terms, to let herself love and be loved, and finally to confront the demons that haunt her. --Laura MirskyAbout the Author:
Laura Hrie's Stygo won the Rosenthal Foundation Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Mountains and Plains Regional Booksellers' Award. It was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Hrie lives in northern New Mexico.
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