Author: Martha Louise Hunter
Publisher: Goldminds Publishing
Publish Date: May 20, 2014
Source: TLC Book Tours
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "Juliana Birdsong is your typical eight-year-old with an obsessive-compulsive mother who's too paranoid to leave the house. Making double-lined, black-out drapes to protect their home from the outside world, her mother only looks up from her sewing machine when Perry Mason comes on TV - the type of successful man Juliana should marry if she wants to get anywhere in life. But Juliana has other things to worry about. Night after night, she's awakened by a terrifying dream where she's chased down a long, tapering highway on the back of her father's motorcycle heading for an enormous, twisting funnel cloud that waits on the horizon. Even after locking it away inside her bedside drawer, Juliana wonders if there are parts of the dream she hasn't seen yet. Years later, she finds dynamic trial lawyer, Oliver Morrissey and she marries him for love. Life is going reasonably well for the privileged socialite - that is, until she's faced with losing everything, including her children. Stepping out of her Lexus, Juliana peels off her Chanel sunglasses and glares up at her childhood home that's now smothered in ivy. Inside, there's only her estranged father left, who she's sure caused her mother's death. Moving in, she discovers a nude portrait of her with an odd set of tiny red footprints on the ankle, and another surprise she's not expecting: Her father has Alzheimer's and he needs her. Plus, a shipment of mysterious oil paintings arrives, all with his signature. When Juliana puts a brush in his hand, it sets off a surreal time warp and the canvases eerily transform, painting a different picture of the parents she thought she knew. As tragic secrets emerge that mirror her own, Juliana's old demons come back to haunt her. Consumed with his care and desperate for her old life back, the dream is still chasing her and it's catching up fast. Just when she can't run any faster, the funnel cloud is waiting on the horizon, twisting even faster than before."
My Two Cents:
The first thing that I'll tell you about "Painting Juliana" is that it is truly a multi-faceted story. You have the story of Juliana's family and her ailing father who might be hiding great talents and a great secret. And then you have Juliana's marriage where she is married to Oliver (who was both incredibly well written and incredibly horrible to Juliana and their children). Her marriage is crumbling and Oliver's M.O. seems to be playing mind games with her and their children. This is a thoroughly engaging read about someone who has so much going on and has to learn how to cope with so much going on.
The characters in the book are really the stand out feature of this book. I really liked Juliana. You really get to see how she changes and grows throughout the book. She starts out very frightened and unsure of herself and finally finds her footing. Much of the book focuses on how she sort of has the rug swept out from underneath her between her messy marriage and her father getting sick. She now has to both confront the past while trying to build a future, a tall order for just about anyone. This is a true journey of a book for her. Oliver is the bad guy in this book but he was so much fun to read about. He is Mr. Slick and it's easy to see how Juliana gets tangled up in his web. He is about as slimy as they come but he is so well written that you can't help but to read about all of the insidious things he does.
Overall the writing of the book was very good. It took me a little bit of time to really dive in and get to know Juliana. Once the story got going with the mystery of Juliana's dad's paintings (yet another part of the storyline that hooked me) and figuring out exactly what was going on with Juliana's marriage, I was hooked. This story would really be a good pick for anyone that is looking for a book with some great characters and a lot of interest.
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