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The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn: A Novel
     

The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn: A Novel

4.4 11
by Janis Hallowell
 

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A remarkable debut novel that 'dares us to imagine mystery in our lives, in our time㿠book that sends us away refreshed, with the potential to see the sacramental in the everyday' – Boston Globe

Told from the viewpoints of four unforgettable characters, The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn is the story of an ordinary girl who is believed to be a

Overview

A remarkable debut novel that 'dares us to imagine mystery in our lives, in our time㿠book that sends us away refreshed, with the potential to see the sacramental in the everyday' – Boston Globe

Told from the viewpoints of four unforgettable characters, The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn is the story of an ordinary girl who is believed to be a modern–day Holy Virgin. At the heart of the story is Francesca: a shy and moody teenager hungry for her absent father's love, she is frightened and intoxicated by her sudden elevation to the rank of divine. Chester is a visionary homeless man who first 'discovers' Francesca and makes himself her protector. Anne is Francesca's no–nonsense mother, whose religion is Darwin and biology. Sid is Francesca's troubled friend, who keeps a few secrets of her own.

Tender and tragic, their intersecting stories probe the need to believe, and the relationship between divinity and madness. Beautifully crafted, here is a compelling first novel that heralds the arrival of a powerful new talent.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Every Saturday morning, 14-year-old Francesca Dunn works at a restaurant whose owner provides free meals to the homeless. Chester, one of the Saturday regulars, can smell what is inside a person-fear, cancer, purity. He likes Francesca because she smells like roses, which he experiences as a pure-almost holy-smell. When a homeless man at the restaurant begins to feel chest pains, Francesca touches him on the arm and the pain subsides. Chester is quick to associate his friend's "healing" with Francesca's divine smell and assumes that she can perform miracles. After the second incident-where an ear infection disappears at her touch-Francesca becomes a celebrity. She acquires a following, spurred on by family associates who see dollar signs when they look at the situation. A tragedy at the end frees Francesca but leaves open the question, "Did she ever have the power to heal?" First novelist Hallowell creates convincing characters in circumstances that are never totally black and white. Though examined from all angles, the dilemma is left unresolved, allowing readers to come to their own conclusions about the protagonist's divine powers. Recommended for most collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/03.]-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., New Providence Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ambitious first novel examines the power of faith-and its dangers. Chester, a former English Lit Ph.D. with mental problems, is a homeless person in a town that's probably Boulder. One morning, he has a vision that Francesca, a 14-year-old girl who helps serve the homeless free meals at her neighbor Ronnie's cafe, is the Holy Virgin. Chester decides that he is to be her protector. Francesca, beautiful but going through a troubled patch of adolescence since her parents' divorce, is in fact afraid she might be pregnant, although the sexual encounter she had remains ambiguous. After an incident at the cafe, word spreads among the homeless that Francesca has holy healing powers. Her distracted mother Anne, a paleobotanist with no use for the leap of faith required for religious belief, conveniently leaves town for a dig while Francesca, staying with Ronnie, becomes increasingly known as a miracle worker. By the time Anne returns, the cult around Francesca has become a media event, inflamed by Ronnie's sister Rae, a professional seeker (we all know the type), and Francesca's friend Sid, who is secretly selling Francesca-relics. Anne is slow to realize that Francesca has in fact begun to believe in her own powers, to enjoy the role of Virgin thrust upon her, and to act as a pretty credible miracle worker. People believe they are changed after contact with her. By setting up the possibility of miracles occurring while also leaving a trail of rational explanation, Hallowell challenges the reader to think in new ways about how belief evolves and how it affects actions. In the end, Francesca is not pregnant and, at a crucial moment, is unable to heal. But the question lingers whether her temporarydivinity was real to those who believed. Though her story and characters are both sometimes labored and her writing stilted, there's a lot to admire in the complexity of the issues Hallowell raises-and in her lack of easy answers. Agent: Kathleen Anderson/Anderson Grinberg

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061982859
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,141,521
File size:
737 KB

Meet the Author

Janis Hallowell, author of The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn, is a MacDowell Fellow, and her short fiction has been published in Ploughshares. She lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter.

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Annunciation of Francesca Dunn 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ShepherdCreekCattle More than 1 year ago
I listened to it on tape, it was enjoyable.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Janis Hallowell¿s The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn takes a surprisingly convincing leap of imagination into the lives of saints, or ordinary people who might be construed as such. I found myself wanting Francesca to be holy, a miracle, just as much as the book¿s many needy of heart and/or body did. This wise book, by causing me to recognize that wish in myself, expanded my understanding of the religious impulse. It is not a mindless drive toward mass hypnosis, as I¿ve sometimes suspected, but a need to love, surrender and revere. While the writing is as particular and the characters as real as in any realistic novel, the story is also an allegory, showing us, through the homeless Chester, the self-transcendence possible through worship, while also dissecting the corruption that often tempts those closest to worship¿s object. Francesca¿s best friend Sid is as tragically bound to betray her as Judas was Christ.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was well written and was never dull. The book had interesting characters and a refreshing story line.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a joy it is to come across a novel like this. The people in the story are so captivating. You want the story to go and not end. Pick this book up... pass on the title and author.... this is a sleeper that should be as popular as 'The Secret Life of Bees'
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn was a page turner! I started reading it around midnight, & I just couldn't put it down, until the crack of dawn!! It's full of quirky characters, who will make you laugh & sometimes feel amazed. Francesca,is a modern day Virgin, who volunteers her time feeding the homeless. Chester, once a teacher & a well read man, is homeless now, & has an extraordinary sense of olfactory enabling him to smell the very essence of human feelings. He camps out in Francesca's yard, to protect her from the ever growing population of believers. Then, there is a mysterious worshiper who leaves designs, made out of flower petals on Francescas doorstep each day. These loveable characters will instantly grow on you. I will never forget this book. I'm looking forward to more books writen by Janis Hallowell.