The Vietnam War is on the nightly news and women are burning bras in the fast-changing world of the 1960s, but thirty-year old Laura wonders why her choice as a feminist couldn’t be to have a baby without marriage. Laura not only has to justify her desire to her forward-thinking friends, but to her fundamentally religious siblings, as well. Yet, her most important mission is to find a man who will agree to impregnate her and then get out of the picture once the act is accomplished. Four narrators push along this charming tale set in 1960s Seabrook, Long Island, as three adult siblings converge in their recently deceased father’s home. Laura is a 30-year-old newspaper columnist from New York. Her brother, Eric, is a compassionate minister trying to find his faith, and sister Beth is an angry and disapproving fundamentalist who is determined to hinder her siblings’ desires in the name of her religion. They share the narration with Eric’s wife, Jenny. Tragic secrets are revealed without resorting to high drama in this portrayal of two separate halves of counterculture and suburban banality. Readers will find Of Little Faithby award-winning author, Carol Hoenig, to be uplifting and heartfelt in the most surprising of ways.
Reviews for OF LITTLE FAITH:
“A raw yet sensitive portrayal of hypocrisy set against the backdrop of the tumultuous 1960s presents the struggles of a liberal woman in the context of her conservative family and upbringing. Brutally frank and devastatingly real, this exceptional novel explores the dynamics of a dysfunctional family while calling attention to hypocritical behavior. Dredged memories of clergy pedophilia during the 1950s mingle with suppressed sexuality and feminist perceptions of a biblical world. Narrated from the distinctive viewpoints of four protagonists, the story reveals that interpretation of religious structure is highly personal, not a matter of dogma.
Two sisters, a brother, and a sister-in-law cannot agree on whether to sell their childhood home that is occupied by the sibling with a zealous attitude toward fundamentalist religion. Pitted against this woman are her liberal sister, Laura, who wishes to have a child without the entanglement of marriage during a time when it remains unacceptable, and her brother, who is a married minister who remains childless.
Laura, having been molested by a pastor, maintains a straightforward, carefree lifestyle that showcases the flaws of conservative purists who resist change. Through Laura’s eyes, a sincere desire cannot tolerate a “should” or a “must” in a preordained plan; rather, it is the spontaneity of living that enlightens those who seek the guidance of a higher power.
Filled with twists and surprises, this absorbing novel fulfills expectations without giving itself away. The end will astound even the most jaded. Meticulous effort, as well as personal experience, enhances the authenticity of Hoenig’s work, bringing to light a captivating though frightening decade. Women’s rights, the Vietnam War, and civil-rights protests set the backdrop for this engrossing exploration of human character.
Carol Hoenig is president of her own publishing consultant firm and an award-winning author with a gift for insightful storytelling. Her involvement in fundamentalism and later rejection of the church bring to light this sensitive portrayal of a fascinating cast of characters.
*Of Little Faith* delivers a punch to old-school beliefs while spotlighting the period when progress for women battled nightmarish condemnation and self-centered ritual.” –ForeWord Magazine Reviews, Winter Issue
I had to share with you that my mother-in-law is your newest fan. She was book shopping in my bookcase and picked up Without Grace. She said she loves your style! She said she has been reading books lately out of desperation, and when she started yours, she finally felt like she found a book she can truly enjoy! I will be buying Of Little Faith ASAP and sharing with her. –Michelle Levine
I read “Without Grace” on vacation at a lakeside cabin years ago and enjoyed it immensely. I have been awaiting Carol’s second book since then. I too am a member of a book club that meets monthly, so I was thrilled when we got a chance to read “Of Little Faith”. I was busy with work studies at the time so I thought I would read it toward the end of the month, but that first night I had to read the first chapter just to get the feel for the story. Big mistake, Sucked me right in, read in bed till way past my normal bed time. That next day instead of going to the gym I sat on the couch till I finished the book. There are not to many books that I read straight through, this was one of them. I enjoy the way Carol entwines her characters. Even if you dislike some of the characters you want to know more about them, and the ones you love, you actually become emotionally connected to. What can I say except that I gave it 5 Stars. Great book for a book club because you will want to discuss it with others. —Gerald Basile
Right away I was pulled into this story. Every character was so interesting, even if some of them made me angry at times. What I liked about this is that it kept me on my toes. I thought maybe the story was going to turn out differently, but after reading Carol’s other stories and books, I knew she wasn’t going to take the copout. Like her novel, “Without Grace,” I could see this being made into a movie, too. Now, I’ll be waiting for her next book! –Connie
This is a book that will get you to think. It will tug at your heart strings. It will re-affirm that all families share both good and bad experiences and show you how all individuals grow up with different ideas. Ideals can be off-the-charts different, but everyone has a desire to love and be loved, no matter how twisted it can seem. This was used in my book club and it brought up a passionate conversation filled with strong ideas. –Lisa Szeto
Ever since I read Carol Hoenig’s novel, “Without Grace” and heard that she had another novel in the works, I have been waiting to have the opportunity to read it. “Of Little Faith” is about one family that has been damaged by fundamental religion. My book discussion group actually had the opportunity to read it in manuscript form since we are friends of Carol’s and we ended up talking for a couple of hours about the different points of view that the story brings out. We all agreed that we enjoyed this novel very much and found that it stirred a number of questions that we needed to ask ourselves when it comes to faith. I think this would be a perfect selection for any book discussion group. –Bookgroupy
Words of Praise for “Without Grace”
WITHOUT GRACE, has been awarded the Silver Medal for Book of the Year 2005 by ForeWord Magazine and given First Place for Fiction by the DIY Book Festival. Jada Press and the New York Book Festival also gave her novel honorable mention.
After the death of her grandmother, Vicky Finley is left to create a place for herself in a houseful of men and becomes consumed by the notion of finding Grace, the mother who abandoned her family when Vicky was just a baby. Vicky’s devoted and protective older brother Kevin does his best to look after her while fighting to keep their land and spare their farming community from a ruthless developer who threatens to forever change the world they know.
The Finleys learn firsthand how memories can betray us, how secrets of the past can burden the present, and how tragedy can test our resolve. And as Vicky ambitiously pursues her passion for cooking, honors a promise to her brother, and manages to bring a struggling community together, she discovers what really makes a family.
Without Grace is a heartening portrait of small-town life and a tender and triumphant coming-of-age tale about the complexities and comforts of family and the healing that comes with letting go of the past.
Words of praise for Without Grace:
Without Grace is so skillful, full of surprises, and full of important ideas. It captures North Country life, but turns the particular into the universal, as a truly good novel must do. It’s a story of and for rural people everywhere. And though it’s set in the 1970’s, it offers insight into what’s happening in so many Adirondack communities today.-Bibi Wein, author of the award-winning memoir The Way Home: A Wilderness Journey
I have to admit, not many novels bring to mind To Kill a Mockingbird–not so much because people rarely tell good stories about rural America, as much as it is such a rarity to be blown away by the writing of said country life.
But such is the case with Without Grace by Carol Hoenig. Grace tells the story of (and by) little Vicky Finley, at the onset of the death of her grandmother (and the only female leadership in her life.) Over time, it opens up wounds (and questions) about her own mother who mysteriously abandoned the family, and forces her to learn from (and deal with) her household of men.
The book opens: “The first time I began to understand that the words gone and dead have different meanings I was about six years old.”
Ms. Hoenig so eloquently tells the tale (and so carefully grasps the mind of a child) of a girl becoming a lady, learning about ambition, being the only female in a home of strong men, and dealing with inevitable loss. The story reads like poetry and demands to be read in one sitting.
This book is dynamite–literature as it was meant to be: at its finest. Don’t trust me? Well, you should, of course. But in case you need your arm twisted, this novel comes with blurbs from Malachy McCourt, Michael Malone and Rona Jaffe–not mention that iUniverse dropped this baby into its Star program prior to publication. Keep your eye on this one–that is, when they’re not glued to the pages inside.- PODdy Mouth
Searching, soulful…Without Grace is a heartfelt exploration of that small town in all of us, our bittersweet Place of Angels.- Arthur Kent, journalist, documentary filmmaker, and author of Warlord Reborn
Like Scout Finch and Mattie Ross and Ellen Foster before her, Vicky, the young heroine of Without Grace, has grit and will and insight, a wry eye for the world around her, and a deeply engaging way of finding there a place of her own.- Michael Malone, author of Handling Sin
Without Grace is not indeed without grace. Told through the consciousness of a young girl coming of age, it is a masterfully crafted tale of love, devotion, hope, and the search for personal identity. A monument to the power of the human spirit to make sense out of a mundane reality that can take fortuitously what it gives, this one will surely make you think compassionately about what really matters in life!- Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., author of What would Aristotle do? Self-Control through the Power of Reason (Prometheus, 2003)
Without Grace is the story of a girl’s search for her mother, a subject that cannot help but make the reader, and this reader, wonder what is going to happen next.- Rona Jaffe, author of The Best of Everything
Without Grace drew me in with its tale of the complicated threads that hold a family together and when cut can send them spinning apart. It’s a beautiful story of how determination can stand up to almost anything and is the declaration of a gifted new writer in Carol Hoenig.- Martha Randolph Carr, author of Wired and The Sitting Sisters
If you begin reading Carol Hoenig’s Without Grace at the start of the work day, you might as well call and tell your boss that you are engaged in a work that transcends the day. A meal, it is as smooth as lobster bisque, a grand main course, and what a dessert! What more can we want in a book? Get it and plan to take the day off.- Malachy McCourt, author of A Monk Swimming
Without Grace is a story of tragic loss and subsequent self discovery. Vicky Finley’s tale is haunting and unforgettable, as Hoenig’s narrative deftly draws us into the drama of her character’s life.- Susan Shapiro Barash, author of THE NEW WIFE: The Evolving Role of the American Wife
Book-Club-Queen Review: http://www.book-club-queen.com/good-book-recommendations-4.html
“All the while I was reading, I kept thinking this is as good, if not better, than Isaac Bashevis Singer. You took life, and articulated it as if you were one of Robert Heinlens, ‘Fair Witnesses’. It was about the evolution of a human being, and the sometimes agonizing decisions we are forced to make on our drives to center ourselves.” –Shawn Phillips, award-winning rock pioneer (www.shawnphillips.com)
For more reviews, visit Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Without-Grace-Carol-Hoenig/dp/1583480366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236522845&sr=1-1
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