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More Than You Know

More Than You Know

4.7 4
by Rosalyn Story

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A sweeping love story about how long-buried family secrets devastate the marriage of a brilliant musician and his swife. Homeless L.J. Tillman is a jazz saxophonist whose life has been torn apart. When the painful secret that L.J. had kept all his life had finally been revealed, it shattered his marriage to Olivia, a promising singer who works as a beautician.


A sweeping love story about how long-buried family secrets devastate the marriage of a brilliant musician and his swife. Homeless L.J. Tillman is a jazz saxophonist whose life has been torn apart. When the painful secret that L.J. had kept all his life had finally been revealed, it shattered his marriage to Olivia, a promising singer who works as a beautician. More Than You Know is the elegantly crafted story of how this troubled couple rescues their marriage: shaken to the core, they discover that truth conforms to its own rules, and that love can endure even the most profound injuries. Rosalyn Story, herself a successful musician, has created a lyrical, emotionally consuming page-turner that delves deeply into the mysteries of love, family, and marriage.

Editorial Reviews

Bridgett M. Davis
More Than You Know delivers on this formula, but with a twist -- in fact with many twists. Rosalyn Story's debut novel is a mystery at heart -- a page-turner enhanced by lyrical language and clever plot turns. Story, a violinist with the Fort Worth Symphony, knows how to play to a crowd, and she drives the narrative like a good straight-ahead quartet -- taking a pop standard and playing it with panache while adding fresh changes and tempos that give the well-worn tune a whole new sound.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
A car accident reveals a deep split in the marriage of an African-American couple in Story's lyrical, uneven fiction debut. As the novel begins, brilliant jazz saxophonist L.J. Tillman is a homeless street musician in Manhattan, eking out an existence blowing tunes for passing pedestrians. But Tillman's history is even more sordid after an argument with his wife about a long-kept family secret, Tillman had an accident in which his car plunged into a river near their Kansas City home. Tillman survives the wreck, but rather than return to Olivia, he takes off and lets her believe that he has died when the police fail to find his body. Tillman's fortunes improve when he lands a solid gig in Manhattan, and after finally getting an apartment he thinks about calling Olivia, who has had her hands full with a fire that destroyed her beauty shop. Story lays out her convoluted narrative in a series of flashbacks, but it is her vivid descriptions of Tillman's music-making Story is a professional violinist and the author of a nonfiction work about African-American opera singers (And So I Sing) and her strong portraits of Tillman and Olivia that give this occasionally strained novel a solid foundation. 8-city author tour. (Sept. 24) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A saxophonist since he was quite young, L.J. Tillman had hopes of performing jazz with some of the best. Yet here he is on the streets of New York City, homeless and playing for quarters. He had a nice life back in Kansas City and was happily married until the night he and Olivia had a huge fight. That same night, the club where he had been playing closed down, and the two events sent him on a downward spiral that ended on the streets. Though originally an abandoned child from Arkansas, Olivia had been raised lovingly by Big Mama and never wanted for anything. But the secret of her origins haunted her until that fateful night with L.J., when she learned more than she dreamed and her life changed forever. Story, a musician herself, has written an engaging first novel whose characters have great appeal. This page-turner is a tale of family, music, and African American heritage that should appeal to many readers. Recommended for public libraries.-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Buried secrets divide an African-American couple in debut fiction from Fort Worth Symphony violinist Story (And so I Sing: African American Divas of Opera and Concert, not reviewed). Sax player L.J. Tillman serenades New York street corners until a kindly singer encourages him to sit in at a Manhattan jazz club. L.J. is superbly talented and gets a gig at the club, which leads to money and an apartment. But when L.J. calls home to Kansas City and tells his wife of many years "it's me," Olivia hangs up the phone. A beautician with a beautiful voice, Olivia has just sung in a church service as a way to tell the congregation, and herself, that L.J. is dead. A year ago, he stormed out of the house after Olivia began asking him about her origins. He drove their car off a bridge, letting the police think that he'd died. While L.J. regains his confidence as a musician, Olivia hires a private detective to make sure he's dead. When L.J. signs on with a jazz band that's passing near Kansas City, he hopes to visit Olivia and explain why he left. The situation's origins are far back and complex: when he was just seven, L.J. was given Olivia, a nameless newborn, to leave on the doorstep of the first likely house he could find. Through a series of coincidences and convoluted family and community ties, L.J., who is also an orphan but was raised by a disreputable uncle, eventually marries Olivia. They want to open a jazz club, she opens a beauty shop instead, and he becomes a successful touring musician. L.J.'s knowledge of Olivia's origins, and of her mother, along with their failure to have a child, separates them-although ironic, occasionally improbable, coincidences reunite them. Romantic, deeplysentimental redemption story of smoky jazz clubs, beauty salons crackling with gossip, and the intricate, wide-ranging community that holds it all together.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

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More Than You Know 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
More Than You Know is about how keeping secrets can destroy the family. Rosalyn Story writes this tale using a series of flashbacks that conduct a wonderful symphony of music in the detail of her words. As the secrets begin to unravel, the supporting characters in the book shed light on their involvement in the continuation of the betrayal.  During one of the worst storms of the decade, a nine-year-old boy, L.J. Tillman, drops off a note and a baby, Olivia, to Big Mama's front door. Big Mama, Glodean, Country, Uncle Joon, and Clo T. share in the parenting of Olivia. Big Mama believes God delivered Olivia to them as an answer to years of prayer. Nearly 20 years later, that nine-year-old boy, L.J. Tillman is reintroduced to Olivia. They fall in love and get married. L.J. lives the ideal musicians life until he reveals a deep, dark family secret to Olivia. She banishes him from the house forever not knowing that her wish may come true. Grief-stricken by his wife's outburst and dismissal from his dream job, L.J. turns to the bottle. Drinking and wallowing in despair, he plunges off an embankment landing in the river. He escapes the car and the city that doesn't want him by jumping a train to New York City. New York City has little to offer a poor black man with a saxophone. He travels from corner to corner and park bench to homeless shelter playing his horn while living on the streets. One-day Covington, a jazz singer, turns him onto an open club spot. L.J. slowly starts piecing his life back together as this gig allows him to save a few dollars. As the story unfolds, you learn that keeping secrets can tear a relationship apart and deepen your resolve to stay true to yourself. As Olivia learns bits and pieces of the truth, her heart opens and she realizes her purpose in life. But will her purpose and L.J.'s dream meet again? Every family has at least one dark secret, but it is how you live with that knowledge which makes the difference. The development of characters, along with the use of flashbacks, will keep you turning the pages of this novel. The outcome was unexpected, yet heartwarming. Story has a gift for writing that is refreshing. It reminds me of the writings of Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez.  Finally a saga about family that is not street or gang-related but focuses on down home folks. I'm waiting on the edge of my seat for her next book. Reviewed by Monique for Loose Leaves Book Review
Visa More than 1 year ago
Fast shipping. Book as described.
Mom_in_Tally More than 1 year ago
A little jumpy when revisiting the past/present. But good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago