Book Review: Painting Juliana by: Martha Louise Hunter

Rating: 4/5

Publisher: Goldminds Publishing, LLC

Publication Date: May 20, 2014

Origins:  From Author for Review

Book Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: 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 priviledged 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.

Review: Juliana Morrissey is unhappy in her marriage. She’s tired of being a second class citizen in her own home. However, when her husband Oliver serves her with divorce papers at their marriage counseling session, she’s floored. If Juliana won’t have Oliver, he’ll take everything away from her – including their twins. Juliana moves back into her childhood home, chocked out by ivy, and learns what it’s like to appreciate the simpler things in life. Her father needs her help because he has Alzheimer’s and Juliana discovers a side to her father – and her family – she never knew. Juliana’s past is rushing to catch up with her just as her future may be slipping through her fingers.

PAINTING JULIANA is a novel of struggle, redemption, and contemplation. The characters are top-notch. I absolutely hated Oliver and I wasn’t a big fan of their kids either because they were so easily swayed. Her brother’s partner is delightful and I felt so badly for her father. Reclaiming her maiden name, Juliana Birdsong, I was happy to see her rediscovering herself “pre-Oliver”. Through her father’s art, Juliana learns some dark secrets about her family and herself. PAINTING JULIANA is a soul-searching novel in which you learn you can only learn from the past – not return.

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