A Lovely, Indecent Departure

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Overview

A Lovely, Indecent Departure is the riveting and emotionally-charged debut from a promising new voice in literature, and a captivating story of a mother's love and desperation set amidst the heart wrenching landscape of child custody.

Anna Miller wants only one thing, her son, and she will do anything to keep him. When a district court awards custody of Oliver to his father, she abducts the five year old and flees to Italy where with her family's help they disappear into the ...

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A Lovely, Indecent Departure

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Overview

A Lovely, Indecent Departure is the riveting and emotionally-charged debut from a promising new voice in literature, and a captivating story of a mother's love and desperation set amidst the heart wrenching landscape of child custody.

Anna Miller wants only one thing, her son, and she will do anything to keep him. When a district court awards custody of Oliver to his father, she abducts the five year old and flees to Italy where with her family's help they disappear into the fabric of her native homeland. Told in prose that is both stripped-down and overpowering, Gilbert shapes the everyday conflict of child custody into a stunning search for sense of worth. Standing in the young woman's way is Evan Meade, the boy's guileful and mean-spirited father, who hires a private investigator when the efforts of the embattled local sheriff, Monroe Rossi, fail to track them down. But as the investigation draws them all closer to Anna, Evan's true nature betrays itself and the question of what's in the child's best interest becomes not so clear anymore

Objectively detailed, in a voice that refuses to intrude on the minds of its characters, A Lovely, Indecent Departure, captures in stark detail a world in which modern archetypes are turned upside down and shows what an extraordinary splash Steven Lee Gilbert has made with his first novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Gilbert's debut novel reduces the mess of child custody and parental kidnapping into a few elemental ingredients. Divorced school teacher Anna Miller is about to depart for Genova, Italy, with her son, Oliver. For reasons the book doesn't provide, Oliver's father, Evan, has custody of the child, and Anna and Oliver are running away. Because the author's descriptions are so bare, chapter titles--which identify the character covered in each chapter--are like breadcrumbs enabling readers to follow the story. Using a limited third-person point of view to navigate through short scenes, the novel drops subtle hints about the players without fully developing them. When Evan confiscates a card Oliver made for Anna, it's clear he will never win any Father of the Year awards; however, even in this scene it's difficult for readers to judge him as an unfit parent. To determine how serious his issues might be, readers are left to fill in the blanks while watching his new relationship fall apart or read between the lines of his dialogue with the FBI agents and private investigators he hires to track down Anna and Oliver. The author's treatment of dialogue--sans quotation marks, without descriptions of inflection or volume--adds a feeling of complicity to the sparse prose, as if readers have overheard something that's wrong but not entirely illegal. This literary device leaves readers feeling uncomfortable, as they're probably meant to be. The well-crafted plot is meted out at a steady pace, continually feeding readers' need to know and simultaneously whetting the appetite for more. Unfortunately, the novel doesn't end on a wholly satisfying note, mostly because Anna isn't as completely developed as the sheriff, the book's most likable, fully formed character. Despite this title's shortcomings, readers will be eager to return to the table for Gilbert's next work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780985336509
  • Publisher: Steven Lee Gilbert
  • Publication date: 3/28/2012
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Lee Gilbert was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana but considers his childhood home the green, rolling foothills of East Tennessee and the southern Appalachia mountains, settlement to all sorts of interesting people, composites of which can be found throughout his writing. Most of his adulthood he's spent in the Sandhills and Piedmont of central North Carolina, where he lives now with his wife and family.

Steven received his B.A. in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, after which he was commissioned and served four years as an officer and paratrooper in the U.S. Army. While in school he had the pleasure of learning from Wilma Dykeman and in 2007 had the opportunity to work with Barry Hannah, both of which greatly influenced his writing. The next year, Steven was awarded a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant for Literature. He has also received recognition for his work as a writer from the Tennessee Writers Alliance.

His work has been published in the Raleigh News & Observer, The Independent Weekly, Diabetes Health, and at Lifescripts.com. He is also the author of the blog, Without Envy. A Lovely, Indecent Departure is his first novel.

You can read more about him at www.stevenleegilbert.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Oh my goodness I just loved this book! This was a page turner if

    Oh my goodness I just loved this book! This was a page turner if I ever read one. I absolutely HAD to know what was going to happen.

    I, right away, felt a connection to this book. Maybe it was because I am a divorced mother and went through hell with visitations when my daughter was young until I finally got full custody and my current husband could adopt her as his own. Everytime "her father" took her for visitation I was worried he wouldn't bring her back. And yes, I did think of just taking her and running away - several times actually! But I stuck it out and waited. This story could have been about me and my daughter! I don't think the author had any idea when he asked me to review this of the connection I would have with it.

    I don't think you have to go through any of this to fully enjoy or connect with the book though. It is so well written, the characters so well developed, the "on-the-edge-of-your-seat" plot so interesting - it all keeps you reading and wondering what will happen next.

    It is written in third person about three main characters.
    Anna, the Mom - She takes her son (Oliver) and runs away to Florence Italy and is in hiding from her ex-husband. I loved Anna and felt such a connection to her, of course. She was portrayed as such a great, kind, and loving mom. With the full support of an extended family was able to pull this off.
    Evan, the Dad - you start out thinking - how bad could he be? right? He just wants his son back and will do ANYTHING to get him. But when revenge against Anna becomes far more important than his son you find out what he is capable of.
    Monroe, the Sheriff - During the whole investigation you are kept wondering what is his part in all this, and where does he stand. Who's side is he on? Even in the end you are not sure what really happened - which I think was perfect. Sometimes you are not meant to know everything.

    "The law itself doesn't keep people from doing bad things. Its the fear of getting caught, or as you put it, the risk of going to jail. In most cases there's nothing especially remarkable about people who break the law. Take this boy's mother for instance. She's probably not very different from any other law abiding citizen you might run into. She works to provide for herself and her son. She pays her taxes. She's a vital part of the community. In fact, the only real difference between her and anyone else is where one has hope the other has none and filling that hole is something called desperation." That says it all! An abused woman or a single mother does act out of desperation. That's all she feel in times like those - desperate.

    One of my favorite touching scenes between mother and son -

    "Why yellow?
    I don't know. It makes me think of you. Like the sun.
    Okay.
    She let him take her hand and ease it down into the yellow paint. He pushed down gently on the back of her hand, making sure the paint oozed into all the creases.
    Doesn't that feel like the sun? he asked, then he whispered into her ear: Just pretend." Wow this brings tears to my eyes, it is so touching.

    All the characters are equally developed. You get to know each one. And even though it is written in third person I think the author did an excellent job at showing their personalities. It was different, but I liked it. It gave you a better sense of everything that was happening instead of just one person's point of view. Also - there are no quotation marks for the conversations! This bugged me for about one page, LOL. Then I got used to it, then I kind of liked it and saw its purpose. Its like we are not really meant to hear them, its like were are eavesdropping on private moments, like spying through a window.

    There were a couple of shockers that kept the story interesting. Even though I had hopes for a happy ending - I truly didn't know which way it was going to turn.

    All in all this was a very beautiful, suspenseful, intense, sad, and touching story! And I loved the whole Italian flair. There were several parts written in Italian and I don't know any Ital. but I loved it! It made it so much more real. This story reminded me very much of another of my favorite books - "The Escape Artist" by Diane Chamberlain, which was also about a mother taking her son and going into hiding.
    * There is some swearing and violence.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Masterful Debut Novel

    Anna had to leave. Caught in a marriage with a man who needed to control her every move, she left for her sanity. But she never meant to leave Oliver, her five year old son. When Evan, her ex-husband, tries to manipulate her through Oliver, making her joint custody more and and more difficult, she makes a momentous decision.

    Since Anna has joint citizenship with both the United States and Italy, she is able to take Oliver and flee overseas. She leaves everything else behind; job, house, family, friends. Her remote relatives, most of whom she hasn't seen since she was a small girl, help her to get reestablished in Florence. But can Evan ever concede failure in what he regards as a battle to establish his rightful dominance?

    Evan enlists the big guns. He goes to the police, for Anna has indeed committed a crime, kidnapping. He goes to the press to make sure his side of the story is the one that gets told. Finally, after months with no results, he hires a private investigator to locate Anna and kidnap Oliver back. Evan's single focus brings the rest of his world into jeopardy; his job and marriage soon show the cracks of his obsession.

    Steven Gilbert has written a masterful debut novel. The reader can empathize with each character in turn and the motives that drive their actions. The writing is crisp and spare, yet portrays each side of this situation; mother, father, law enforcement, family and friends, fully. Gilbert lives in the Piedmont region of NC. In 2007 he was the recipient of a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant for Literature. A Lovely, Indecent Departure is recommended for all readers interested in a compelling story and excellent character portrayal.

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  • Posted May 31, 2012

    Well written literary thriller

    I enjoyed this book a lot. It was broken up into different character’s narrations, which was well done. I felt like I knew each one of the characters involved, even when bits of information and pieces to the puzzle were missing. This was definitely more of a character driven novel than a plot driven novel, but was still unpredictable and I kept turning the page to find out what pieces to the puzzle would be discovered next.

    One of the best aspects about this book is that the reader is thrown into the story and doesn’t know the whole story. We as readers are finding out what happened and why about as fast as the other characters, and Anna doesn’t spell it out for us. I enjoyed this a lot. I felt like it kept me on my toes and kept me interested. Instead of bombarding us with information or the backstory as to why Anna leaves with her son, we are piecing it together as we go. I feel like it makes us judge the characters less harshly, too

    After I put it down, I still had questions about Anna and Evan’s relationship and what led her to leave. I wondered what the letter Evan wrote her before their battle turned into the courts said. I think a truly good novel is one that keeps us thinking even after the final page is read, and this book did that for me.

    At first, I realized the dialogue was not put into quotations. It’s written just like any other sentence is written. This irked me to no end at the beginning, but I quickly realized that it did something to the story. I still don’t know why no quotations were done, but I think it made the past somehow more distant. I’m not sure why I ended up loving the choice, but I did. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what was dialogue and what was not, so I went with it and thought it was a good decision.

    This book was well written, incredibly descriptive and multiple storylines are present, which are all equally interesting. Each character showed growth, whether good or bad. I think a lot of books, especially character driven books, can end up giving the reader too much information, too much backstory, especially when written from different points of view. Somehow, Gilbert was able to give us a lot of insight to the characters without a boring or overstimulated narration and without being plot driven. There are a lot of things I still don’t know about the characters, yet I feel like I know them well. I think this shows a lot of talent and skill and I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Gilbert’s novels.

    I definitely recommend this book. It’s a literary novel, a thriller, a mystery all wrapped up in one package.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    With thoughtful character development in A Lovely, Indecent Depa

    With thoughtful character development in A Lovely, Indecent Departure, it was easy to quickly get wrapped up in the life of Anna as she tries to rescue her son from her overbearing ex, Evan. While she is safely in Italy with her son, your hatred for Evan develops as you journey with him (and local authorities) on his escapade to find the young boy. Or is it Anna that he wants to find to further torment? This book does not lack in suspense and is thrilling 'till the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Great debut!

    Great debut!

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