A Field Guide to Deception

( 3 )


Praise for Red Audrey and the Roping by Jill Malone:

“Luminescent writing. . . . Finely tuned, daring, and perceptive, Malone’s auspicious debut leaves us wanting more.”—Whitney Scott, Booklist

“A lyrical, passionate novel about desire, about danger, and about the need for self-forgiveness. A wonderfully impressive writing debut.”—Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

“First-rate ...

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A Field Guide to Deception

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Praise for Red Audrey and the Roping by Jill Malone:

“Luminescent writing. . . . Finely tuned, daring, and perceptive, Malone’s auspicious debut leaves us wanting more.”—Whitney Scott, Booklist

“A lyrical, passionate novel about desire, about danger, and about the need for self-forgiveness. A wonderfully impressive writing debut.”—Sarah Waters, author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch

“First-rate writing and characterization.”—Cecelia Martin, Diva

“Malone’s nonlinear novel jitterbugs through time and place—the splintered chronology is a rewarding challenge. . . . A dazzling and dramatic debut.”—Richard Labonté, BookMarks/Q Syndicate

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

Jill Malone’s first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, won the Bywater Prize for Fiction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932859706
  • Publisher: Bywater Books MI
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Malone went to a German kindergarten, grade school in the rural South, middle school in the affluent East, high school and college in Hawaii, and graduate school in the state of Washington. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping won the Bywater Prize for Fiction. Her second novel reflects her interest in mycology. She has a three-year-old son.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Complex romance

    A Field Guide To Deception is about two women who are unsettled in their lives. Claire worked with her late aunt for years writing field guides to plants. She also depended on her aunt for support in dealing with life's situations, especially raising her small son Simon. Claire needs to produce another guide, but she's drifting without a sense of direction. Liv is a handywoman who works odd jobs and has been hired by Claire to do some work on her property. She's used to being on her own, picking up one night stands at bars and she's not sure she ever wants to settle down, but she's been charmed by Simon and that brings her into a very uneasy relationship with Claire. They begin to view each other in new ways and find much that is attractive. They also make numerous mistakes, but seem to be trying to make the situation work. Then an incident disrupts everything and whether or not they can ever put the pieces back together is very questionable.

    This story doesn't totally conform to the usual template of a romance, especially since the ending of the book is uncertain as to what is happening. There are two layers of plot here, one that is a fairly simple story and then an undercurrent that is hinted at, but elusive. The characters are complex and have a tendency to shift just when the reader is getting a sense of who they are. In some ways they're also aggravating. Many of their problems could be solved by simply talking to each other, but instead they jump to conclusions and avoid conversation. Once or twice might seem realistic, but when it keeps happening, the reader might wonder what's wrong with the two women. The pace of the book is uneven which makes becoming enmeshed in the story difficult.

    Bywater Books is making an effort to put out books that it feels go beyond the standard patterns and provide more sophisticated reading. These usually aren't stories that can be read and digested in a couple of hours, but require more concentration. The problem is that sometimes, in trying to create more complex books, stories can also become convoluted. A Field Guide To Deception will require more effort than a casual bit of afternoon reading for the full meaning of the story to be fully grasped.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Ready, Set, Go

    Richard LaBonte referred to Jill Malone's first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, as a "nonlinear novel that jitterbugs through time and place."
    Malone's second novel is a smoother dance, more of a raft ride down the rapids, where your position changes with every whorl of current. The characters and the plot leave you facing one way, then whip you around like white water roiling around outcroppings, to finish the ride looking behind you in wonder. How did I come to be in this position? You may start out believing the story is going one way, but you will be spun and spit out many a time in this new novel, whipsawed between ideas and feelings and concepts.
    Each character in this book glows, and shifts and pulls us toward them, and at times repels us. We are drawn in and thrown out. Just when you think you are comfortable, settling in, sure of your assessment of Claire, or Liv, or even Claire's son, just when you think you know them, you don't.

    Nothing is as it seems to be at first. Everything changes, or our perception of things, the people, their relationships, shift, with each snappy, well-paced scene. It is complex, and fast, and deeper than you may assume when you begin reading. Like the depth of a fast-moving river, which changes when boulders rise up to make the water swirl and eddy, rush into white, and recede to allow the water to slow down after a lazy curve to almost silent running, this book speeds, then slows, catches us, then tosses the reader back, stirs emotions, causes whiplash as scenes are revisited, layers added and stripped away.

    You really do need a field guide for this one. Malone is a wonderful writer, and sights, smells, sounds, tastes, all the senses come into play as she takes us on a journey, and with great, deft skill leads us through the characters'misconceptions and missteps like a camp counselor leaping from stone to stone across a stream.

    A Field Guide to Deception is a rare treat. When a debut novel like Red Audrey shows so much skill and promise, it is a pleasure to find a second novel as delightful and engaging as this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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