Abide with Me (Invisible Life Series #3)

Abide with Me (Invisible Life Series #3)

4.7 32
by E. Lynn Harris

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At the end of Just as I Am, Raymond Tyler, Jr., was beginning a relationship with Trent, a fraternity brother from his college days, while Nicole had found love with Jared, Raymond's buddy from Atlanta. As Abide with Me opens, Raymond and Trent are settled in Seattle, where Trent's career as an architect has bloomed and Raymond's law practice is booming. All seems… See more details below


At the end of Just as I Am, Raymond Tyler, Jr., was beginning a relationship with Trent, a fraternity brother from his college days, while Nicole had found love with Jared, Raymond's buddy from Atlanta. As Abide with Me opens, Raymond and Trent are settled in Seattle, where Trent's career as an architect has bloomed and Raymond's law practice is booming. All seems well. Then, late one night, Raymond gets a call from a United States Senator that threatens everything he's built. Raymond, facing a crisis of faith, travels to New York hoping for the support of his best friend, Jared, who's moved North after five years in Atlanta. His wife, Nicole, is performing in a revival of Dreamgirls, her lifelong fantasy at last coming true. Nicole is thrilled to return to the stage, but when things start to go wrong, her young and beautiful understudy, Yancey Harrington Braxton, steps into the spotlight a little too smoothly. And Nicole, far from achieving her dream, is suddenly forced to reevaluate her life and her marriage.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
...[B]reezy, bighearted entertainment.
Harris has woven a truly complex and realistic fabric within which his characters come to self-actualization through forgiveness and the enduring human spirit.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In the conclusion of his trilogy that began with the novels Invisible Life and Just As I Am, Harris continues to demonstrate his inarguable skills as a master storyteller. He recounts the triumphs and travails of Raymond Winston Tyler Jr., a bisexual African-American attorney, whose lovers, friends and family both enrich and ensnarl his life. Raymond, at 37, has just been nominated for a federal judgeship. His parents are elated. His boyfriend is proud. But the necessary background checks may raise some squeamish issues surrounding his sexuality. The events unfold like a serial soap opera, a series of artfully constructed vignettes that always convey a strong sense of setting and are driven by emotionally charged dialogue. It's these qualities that make Harris's work so nimble as spoken audio: his writing comes across as almost scripted. His characters, such as the sexually conflicted pro football star John "Basil" Henderson (who is portrayed through a series of sessions with his therapist), are also highly appealing. Harris clearly knows how to work the heartstrings of his audience. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover. (Mar.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
The Advocate
Harris has woven a truly complex and realistic fabric within which his characters come to self-actualization through forgiveness and the enduring human spirit.
Kate Clinton
The book stands on its own, and I can't wait to read the first two.
The Progressive

Harris is a great storyteller who knows how to tug on the heartstrings of with wit and sensitivity. He gives just as much insight into the psyche of women as he does men. When confronted with a mixture of both—as with a transvestite who apears in the book—he shows remarkable compassion. He has a unique perspective that avoids judgment. And, while he concludes his Invisible Life trilogy with this book, there's a hint that more may come.

Harris handles the story well until the end...the author seems unable to find a creative way to tie up loose ends and conclude the book.

USA Today
Kirkus Reviews
The lives of five thirtyish African-Americans are updated in this final installment of a trilogy (Invisible Life, 1992; Just As I Am, 1994) that doesn't stray from the soap-opera conventions that also govern the first two. The cast will be familiar to readers of the series: Raymond, Trent, Nicole, Jared, and Basil are all educated, successful, fairly well-off professionals who eat sumptuous meals and spend time with expensive therapists—a deft by-the-numbers strategy that excuses Harris from having to develop their characters himself. Ray and his old frat brother Trent live happily in their gorgeous Seattle home; Nicole and Jared, still childless in New York, enjoy immaculate marital bliss; Basil, also a Big Apple denizen, is a handsome ESPN sports commentator. All the men have excellent pectorals and exquisite butts; all the women are shapely and beautiful. Not that they don't have problems.

When Ray is nominated for a federal judgeship, his love for Trent is challenged by an FBI background check that reveals Trent's criminal record. Nicole wins a part in the show Dreamgirls, but her success is threatened by a scheming understudy. Basil internally rages against his uncle while nonviolently abusing a variety of men and women. Still, in the end anyone who is driven by hatred is thwarted; anyone who embraces love and forgiveness prevails; and most reconciliations are sealed by hot tumbles in the bedroom. Only friendless loner Basil fails to right himself, though the close offers some hope—presumably for another installment. Harris is a writer with a passable talent for pacing and dialogue, but his characters fail to evolve and their changes of heart are wholly predictable. More of the same from an unadventurous conception.

From the Publisher
"Harris populates his novel with marvelously written, complex characters who engage readers on many levels."  —Orlando Sentinel

"[E. Lynn Harris] rounds out his blockbuster series with this inventive book...filled with sensuality, deception, friendship and love."  —Ebony

"What's got audiences hooked: Harris's unique spin on the everfascinating topics of identity, class, intimacy, sexuality, and friendship."  —Vibe

"Harris's books are hot, in more ways than one."  -The Philadelphia Enquirer

"Breezy, bighearted entertainment."  -Entertainment Weekly

"Harris's talent as a writer has increased with each of his books.  His stories have become the toast of bookstores, reading groups, men, women, and gay and straight people."  -Atlanta Journal and Constitution

"With a signature style that has thrilled and satisfied millions of readers, E. Lynn Harris again deftly explores the intertwined topics of sexuality, friendship and family."  -Seattle Gay News

"This book grabs you from the first page and nags at you until you finish reading it.  You will go on an emotional roller-coaster ride."  -Spokesman

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Invisible Life Series, #3
Product dimensions:
6.53(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.17(d)

Read an Excerpt

Summer came, tucked behind a flawless spring. Raymond loved perfection, but he did not know that with perfection, sorrow would soon follow. It started with a late evening phone call. Raymond Winston Tyler and Trent Michael Walters had retired to their large, loft-style bedroom after an uneventful Friday. The two were trying to decide if they should watch the local news or one of the three videos they had rented for the weekend. Raymond answered the phone on the nightstand after a couple of rings. He started to let the answering machine pick up, but the ring sounded unusually urgent and important. Maybe it was his younger brother, Kirby, or his best buddy, Jared.

After about ten minutes of "Yes... Yes... I can't believe this," Raymond walked over toward the large bay window. As he held the portable phone to his ear Raymond gazed at a burst of orange and blue lightning slice through the clouds as the sky opened up and sheets of rain began to fall. It was both beautiful and frightening.

Trent realized this call was important and went downstairs to the kitchen. A few minutes later he returned with a bowl of microwave popcorn, a box of peanut M&M's, and two bottles of water, just as Raymond was hanging up the phone with a stunned look on his face.

"Is everything all right?" Trent asked with concern in his voice.

"You're not going to believe this," Raymond said as he rubbed his forehead.


"That was the chief of staff for Senator Patricia Murray's office," Raymond said.

"The U.S. senator? And?" Trent quizzed.

"I've been nominated for a federal judgeship," Raymond blushed. "Get the fuck out! That's great," Trent said as he hugged his broad-shouldered partner.

"I still don't believe this," Raymond said as his lips parted into a huge smile.

"Why not? I've always known you're the best lawyer in the world," Trent said proudly.

"Do you realize the next step would be the Supreme Court? What is this ... I'm getting ahead of myself. Supreme Court, my ass! My pops isn't going to believe this," Raymond rattled off.

"Call him," Trent urged.

Raymond looked at the digital clock on the phone and realized it was past midnight in Birmingham, Alabama. But Raymond wanted to share the news with his parents.

"Do you think it's too late?"

"Raymond, how often does someone get nominated for the federal bench?"

Trent asked.

"You're right," Raymond said as he grabbed the phone and dialed his parents' number. After three rings Raymond started to hang up when he suddenly heard his mother's sleepy voice. A voice more familiar to him than any sound he'd ever heard.

"Ma," Raymond said.

"Ray? Is everything all right?" she asked.

"Everything is fine. I'm sorry to call so late. Where's Pops?"

"He's right here. You want to talk with him?"

"Yeah, but I want you to hear this too. Put me on the speakerphone." Raymond knew his father hated the speakerphone, but he heard a click and then his mother's voice suddenly sounding far-off. "Ray Jr.? Are you all right?" Raymond heard his father ask.

"I'm fine," Raymond assured him.

"Then this better be good. Do you know how late it is?" "Yeah, but I thought you'd like to talk with the future federal judge from the Western District Court of Washington," Raymond said. He liked the sound of his possible new title.

"What!" Raymond heard his father exclaim. Raymond could hear his mother in the background singing, "My baby ...my baby going to be a judge." She sounded like the mother in the movie The Nutty Professor singing "Hercules, Hercules."

Raymond heard some clicking in the phone and then he could hear his father's voice more clearly. Raymond Sr. had turned off the speakerphone. "Is Ma all right?"

"She's fine. When did all this happen? Why is this the first I've heard of this?"

"I didn't know I was even being considered. I knew there were some openings, but everybody in my office thought they were going to pick an Asian-American or this lawyer Charles Pope. I'm still in shock," Raymond said. "I guess we can thank the Simpson trial and my taking your advice about helping out Norm Rice in his race for governor." "Did Norm have something to do with this?" Raymond Sr. asked. "I have no idea," Raymond answered. "I got the call from Senator Murray's office. Her chief of staff said they had been trying to reach me all evening. But I guess we should all calm down because I haven't been put on the bench yet. There is the confirmation process," he warned. "Don't worry about that. You'll get it. I know they need some local color on that bench."

"I hope you're right, Pops. I hope you're right."

After hanging up the phone, Raymond sat on the edge of the bed silently, listening to the rain and thinking about how his life was getting ready to change. Again.

During the Simpson trial Raymond had served as a talking head for the local NBC affiliate and had become something of a local celebrity, partly because he never seemed to take sides and also because Raymond was a very good-looking man. The station had been swamped with calls, faxes, and letters from women wanting to know Raymond's marital status. Raymond and Trent would spend some evenings reading some of the offers from viewers. Ray had his secretary send each viewer a thank-you note stating, Mr. Tyler is very happy in his personal life. When the station offered Raymond a permanent position, he politely declined.

His father was a retired family court judge and state senator who had always dreamed his son would follow in his political footsteps, and had suggested Raymond parlay his newfound celebrity into political prominence. It had been years since his father had encouraged him to pursue politics.

His mother just wanted him to be happy.

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