Souvenir

Souvenir

4.2 34
by Therese Fowler, Jen Cohn
     
 

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Meg Powell and Carson McKay were raised side by side on their families’ farms, bonded by a love that only deepened as they grew. Everyone in their small rural community in northern Florida thought that Meg and Carson would always be together. But at twenty-one, Meg was presented with a marriage proposal she could not refuse, forever changing the course of her

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Overview

Meg Powell and Carson McKay were raised side by side on their families’ farms, bonded by a love that only deepened as they grew. Everyone in their small rural community in northern Florida thought that Meg and Carson would always be together. But at twenty-one, Meg was presented with a marriage proposal she could not refuse, forever changing the course of her life.

Seventeen years later, Meg’s marriage has become routine, and she spends her time juggling the demands of her medical practice, the needs of her widowed father, and the whims of her rebellious teenage daughter, Savannah, who is confronting her burgeoning sexuality in a dangerous manner and pushing her mother away just when she needs her most. Then, after a long absence, Carson returns home to prepare for his wedding to a younger woman. As Carson struggles to determine where his heart and future lie, Meg makes a shocking discovery that will upset the balance of everyone around her.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The melodrama is thick and heavy in Fowler's debut. Meg Powell turned her back on the love of her life, Carson McKay, to marry Brian Hamilton, the scion of a banking family who saved her parents' farm from foreclosure in exchange for her hand. Now, 16 years later, Meg and Brian are so busy with their careers that they overlook their 16-year-old daughter, Savannah, who has typical adolescent concerns about being pretty and popular. Carson, meanwhile, has become a rock star and is now on the verge of marrying a much younger surfing champion, but he's never gotten over Meg. Trouble comes as Meg is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and Savannah meets an unsavory 23-year-old man online who woos her with the kind of positive reinforcement she wants to hear. Unfortunately, Fowler does little to create narrative tension or well-rounded characters: Meg and Carson reunite before Meg's health declines, Brian is a predicable schmuck, and Savannah gets a rough comeuppance at the hands of her bad news beau and his pals. The bungled handling of saccharine material limits this would-be tearjerker. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Fowler's debut is the heartbreaking story of a woman who made what she thought was a responsible decision, only to have to live with the consequences. Meg Powell had always loved Carson McKay, and the families thought they'd end up together. But when Brian Hamilton offered to forgive the mortgage Meg's irresponsible father couldn't pay, Meg agreed to marry him. Seventeen years later, Meg's a successful obstetrician in a loveless marriage. Her daughter, Savannah, almost 16, thinks she's found love on the Internet and acts recklessly. Carson is a successful musician, on the verge of marriage to a younger woman, although he's never forgotten Meg. When Meg discovers she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), she knows she has only one chance to make peace with the past and give her daughter hope for the future. The choices made by Meg and Savannah may be controversial with some readers, but, nevertheless, this outstanding debut is recommended for all public libraries.
—Lesa M. Holstine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739358436
Publisher:
Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/26/2008
Edition description:
Abridged, 5 CDs, 6 hrs
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 5.87(h) x 1.16(d)

Read an Excerpt

Souvenir

A Novel
By Therese Fowler

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2008 Therese Fowler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345499684

One

Reminders. Meg didn’t need more of them, but that’s what she got when her father let her into his new apartment at the Horizon Center for Seniors Wednesday evening. He held out a plastic grocery bag.

“What’s in there?”

“Notebooks, from your mother’s desk,” he said. “Take ’em now, before I forget.”

He did more and more of that lately, forgetting. Idiopathic short-term memory loss was his doctor’s name for his condition, which right now was more an irritation than an issue. Idiopathic, meaning there was no particular explanation. Idiopathic was an apt term for Spencer Powell, a man who lived entirely according to his whims.

Meg took the bag and set it on the dining table along with her purse. This would be a short visit, coming at the end of her twelve-hour day. Hospital rounds at seven am, two morning deliveries, a candy-bar lunch, and then four hours of back-to-back patients at her practice—women stressing about episiotomies, C-section pain, stretch marks, unending fetal hiccups, heavy periods, lack of sex drive, fear of labor. And still four hours to go before she was likely to hit the sheets for five. An exhausting grind at times, but she loved her work.The ideal of it, at least.

“So how was today?” she asked, taking the clip out of her shoulder-length hair and shaking it loose. “Are you finding your way around all right?”

“Colorful place,” he said, leading her to the living room. He sat in his recliner—why did old men seem always to have one, fraying and squeaky, with which they wouldn’t part? “Pair o’ guys over in wing C got a great system for winning on the dogs.”

The greyhounds, he meant. “Is that right?” she asked, looking him over. He looked spry as ever, and his eyes had regained the smile she’d never seen dimmed before last fall. His hair, once the brightest copper, had gone full silver, making him seem more distinguished somehow, silver being more valuable. Distinguished, but no less wild than before—a man whose mind was always a step ahead of his sense. His diabetes was in check, but since her mother had died suddenly seven months earlier, Meg felt compelled to watch him closely. She was looking for signs of failing health, diabetic danger signals: swollen ankles, extra fluid in the face, unusual behaviors. All his behaviors were unusual, though, so that part was difficult.

The other difficult thing was how he kept confronting her with random pieces of her mother’s life. A pitted chrome teapot. Stiff and faded blue doilies from their old dining hutch. Rose-scented bath powder, in a round cardboard container with a round puff inside. Last week, a paper bag of pinecones dipped in glitter-thick wax. Trivia from a life forever altered by the sudden seizure of Anna Powell’s heart, like a car’s engine after driving too long without oil.

“Yeah, those boys said they win more’n they lose, so what’s not to like about that? Hey—my left kidney’s acting up again. Steady pain, kinda dull, mostly. What d’ya s’pose that’s about?”

“Call Dr. Aimes,” she said, as she always did when he brought up anything relating to his kidneys. “Tomorrow. Don’t wait.” He looked all right—but then, she’d thought her mother had too. What a good doctor she was; she should’ve seen the signs of runaway hypertension, should’ve known a massive heart attack was pending. She never should have taken her mother’s word that she was doing fine on the blood pressure medication, nothing to worry about at all.

Her father frowned in annoyance, as he always did when she wouldn’t diagnose him. “What good are you?”

“If you go into labor, I’ll be glad to help out. Otherwise, tell Dr. Aimes.” She would remind him again when she called tomorrow.

His apartment was modest—one bedroom, one bath, a combined dining–living area, and a kitchen—but comfortable, furnished mostly with new things. He’d sold the business, Powell’s Breeding and Boarding, along with the house and all the property, in order to move here. She didn’t know the financial details because he’d insisted on handling that part of things himself. But he assured her he could afford to “modernize” a little, as he’d put it.

Meg looked around, glad to not see much of her mother here. Memories were like spinning blades: dangerous at close range. Her mother’s empty swivel rocker, placed alongside the recliner, would take some getting used to. If her father would just stop regurgitating things from the farm—or send them to her sisters, all of whom wisely lived out of state—she might be able to get comfortable with the new order. Was that his strategy, too? Was he giving things away so that he didn’t have to be reminded of his loss every time he opened a closet or a drawer? He certainly wasn’t much for facing the past, himself. The past was where all his failures lived.

Well, they had that in common.

He pulled the recliner’s lever and stretched out. “So yeah, I’m doin’ fine. Why’nt you bring Savannah over Sunday; we’ll have dinner in this establishment’s fine dining room. They just put in one of them self-serve ice cream machines, you know what I’m talking about? Toppings, too. Y’oughta see the old farts elbowing each other to get there first! If I’d known this place was so entertaining, I’d’ve moved Mom here. This would be her kind of place, don’t you think? Lots of biddies around to cackle with.”

“Sure, she would’ve liked it a lot,” Meg said. The farm had overwhelmed her mother perpetually, even after Brian and his father— officially Hamilton Savings and Loan—forgave her parents’ mortgage as promised. In the years afterward, Meg liked to take her mother out to lunch for a break and a treat; she offered her spending money (as she secretly did her sisters too), but the reply was always, “Oh, heavens no, Meggie. You’ve done so much as it is. Besides, you know your father.”

She did. Though cursed with a black thumb for profits, he was too proud to let her put cash in their hands. He hadn’t been too proud, though, to let her—to encourage her—to take Brian’s offer. That was different; no money changed hands. Meg hadn’t had to give up anything—Carson didn’t count. It was her choice anyway, that’s what he always said.

“Hey—why’nt you bring our girl over here for dinner Sunday?” He said this as if the idea had just occurred to him.

She stood next to his chair, noting how his invitation didn’t include Brian—intentionally? “I’ll do that,” she said. “Right now I need to get going.”

“Okay, fine, go on, Miss Hectic Schedule. I know, you got things to do. Y’oughta enjoy the ride a little more, though. Now that you can. Don’t you think? I’m fine here, everything’s settled. I don’t know why you don’t just get on with your life.”

Now that she could? What was he talking about?

He continued, “You’re not happy. I’ve known that for a long time. Move forward, Meggie, while you’re still young.”

She looked at him quizzically—he didn’t always make sense, but he hated having it pointed out—and kissed him without pursuing it. “I’m fine, Dad,” she said. “It’s just been a long day.”

Continues...

Excerpted from Souvenir by Therese Fowler Copyright © 2008 by Therese Fowler. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Therese Fowler holds an MFA in creative writing. She grew up in Illinois, and now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons. This is her first novel.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Raleigh, NC
Date of Birth:
April 22, 1967
Place of Birth:
Rock Island, IL
Education:
B.A. in Sociology, 2000; M.F.A. in Creative Writing, 2005
Website:
http://www.theresefowler.com/

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Souvenir 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
BANCHEE_READS More than 1 year ago
It was a wonderful read and I truly enjoyed the characters. This book and these characters will stay with me for a long time. Not wanting to ruin the ending for the reader I'll say it was believable and touching. The characters in the story, having gone full circle, ended up in the places in life that one would imagine events such as these would have led them. Having already read Fowler's follow-up Reunion, which I enjoyed as well, I can say unequivocally that I enjoyed this story far more. It was unpredictably heartfelt and poignant. Though not a novel of high-spirits and frivolity I would strongly encourage a reader to pick Souvenir up and read it. It was just that good.
Magic36 More than 1 year ago
Believable, thought provoking, and insightful. Hard to put it down or have it end. I'm going to checkout Reunion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Based on the summary I thought I would really love this book, but because the summary stated that it had "a spectacular finish, shocking the reader and turning the entire story on its head", I was anticipating a shocking finish. I figured out the "twist" within the first chapter. If the summary had not included those statements I would have enjoyed and recommended this book. Sadly I was disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jasmine Carlton More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It took me only a few days to read. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author. I'd love a sequel! This novel really got into my heart and that's one of the resons I love to read.
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AllyD25 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good story, well written. I just don't believe any husband would allow or consent that the wife will reunite with the past beau even in the most terminal stage of a disease, at least not the way it happened in this book. It is very enlightening though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutley fabulous. It had me crying before I was even half way through the book. The plot is like no other, and the way the story is written you feel like you are there with the characters. I had to read through the night to finish the book, just couldn't put it down. The author will keep you guessing as to what will happen next. Make sure to have your kleenexes handy.
Amy_Y More than 1 year ago
I just finished the last page of this book about 5 minutes ago after not being able to put it down for 2 hours. I felt so compelled to give this book a GREAT and supportive review. This book starts at one point and you would never guess how it ends. The story is full of wonderful characters, some having their own conflicts/plots going on, but all appropriately weave into the main character's plot, Meg. The book reveals an unexpected family secret that will blow you away and hit every one of your emotions from utter disbelief to sadness to anger. Hold tissues close by because this story will share a beautiful story about family bonds, a mother-teenage daughter relationship, a marriage, a love story. The pacing of this book fast, but it's melodic so I would recommend this as a rainy day or beach read so you can really get lost in the story. It's incredible!
Galleysmith More than 1 year ago
Souvenir is wonderfully written and vivid. The settings are immaculately descriptive and add vibrancy to a subject that is otherwise stark and at times somewhat depressing. She's given life to her character's surroundings in a way that allows the reader to feel as if they are sitting in Carson's old guesthouse. I could almost smell the citrus in the air as he and his father navigated through the groves bonding and working the land. Even more compelling is the strong and compassionate voice Fowler has given to Meg as she endures the realization that she has gotten the most out of her life that she can ever expect. But then, the author shifts gears so gradually that the reader barely feels Meg's transition from trapped and passive bystander in life to proactive live each moment like it's your last woman on a mission. As part of that shift in focus the portrayal of relationships is another very strong element throughout the entire novel. The author does well to show the strong contrast between the relationships Meg holds with her parents and siblings, then with her husband and daughter, and then finally with the man she considers her soul mate even though they are no longer together. What I held most dear is how Fowler used those around her to better develop Meg's character. Showing her to be the glue that held everything together. Not wanting to ruin the ending for the reader I'll say it was believable and touching. The characters in the story, having gone full circle, ended up in the places in life that one would imagine events such as these would have led them. Having already read Fowler's follow-up Reunion, which I enjoyed as well, I can say unequivocally that I enjoyed this story far more. It was unpredictably heartfelt and poignant. Though not a novel of high-spirits and frivolity I would strongly encourage a reader to pick Souvenir up and read it. It was just that good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt that the characters were not developed enough to be believable. A real disappointment overall
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had no idea that when I bought this book I would need so many tissues. It's a little slow at the beginning while the author is character building and plot setting, but once it gets going it is so very hard to put this book down! I stayed up two nights in a row until 3 a.m. because I could not make myself stop reading! I don't want to give anything away about this book. I only want to say how this author made me actually FEEL for these characters. I felt as thought I knew them in real life. Great read. Kudos to this author as I read this was her first novel! Congrats - it's amazing!
GrkDina31 More than 1 year ago
This book was so amazing, I could not put it down!- Some parts of the story reminded me of the love that takes place in " The Notebook"... It is a touching story about the choices we make in our lives and how no matter where life leads us we never forget our first & only love.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book touches on a subject not dealt with very often-handling a person's imminent death and relationships with family members. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Fowlers future books.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
SOUVENIR is a heart-wrenching novel in the vein of Nicholas Sparks' THE NOTEBOOK and A WALK TO REMEMBER.

It is a novel about lost love, the possibility of second chances, and the fate that brings us all together.

Meg is a doctor with a sixteen-year-old daughter, and a businessman husband. Things seem to be normal in her life; she's stable at home, and she loves her job. However, she's still holding on to many secrets from her past, including a mistake that haunts her every day.

After a shocking change in her life, she decides to come to terms with her regrets, and decide what she wants in the future.

SOUVENIR is a tearjerker that is very realistic in its tale of true love and heartbreak. It is very well-written, and stays with you long after the first reading. This title will no doubt become a classic in future years because of its touching story and meaningful characters.