Rayne Holland seems to have it all: a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful five-year-old daughter, and a rapidly rising film career. What everyone doesn't know is that behind closed doors, the picture isn't so perfect. And in the recesses of Rayne's mind she harbors a dark past that even she in unaware of. Then tragedy strikes, and Rayne slowly discovers that the story of her life is just beginning and nothing and no one are as they seem. . .
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)|
About the Author
Donna Hill lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Read an Excerpt
In My Bedroom
By DONNA HILL
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2004 Donna Hill
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJUNE. A SAVANNAH JUNE. H0T. Lush. Rich. Damp, like a satisfied woman. Even in this place of unreality where the trio held court, that fact could not be denied.
It was an odd assemblage they made, yet commonplace, at least here at Cedar Grove, where fractured minds were prodded and patched. One walked tall, cloaked in a posture of importance, willowy flame red hair brushing swaying shoulders. The other, a birch brown and catlike in grace, appeared cover-girl stylish, pushing the third, silent bronze-toned beauty in a wheelchair. Yet the trio appeared to move almost seamlessly across the lush green grounds of the Savannah, Georgia, facility-embraced by rose bushes, towering magnolia trees, and jasmine vines-wrapped up, it seemed, in the tranquillity of their surroundings. In truth, that was a lie.
A closer look revealed two pairs of eyes, one brown set, one green, both intent and serious, their dual voices barely carried by the feeble breath of the afternoon breeze. It was the third who was their concern, the focus of their hushed conversation. From time to time, they ceased speaking to look mournfully upon Rayne Holland as she sat motionless in the chair, her gaze fixed and unseeing. So they believed. I know why I'm here, Rayne thought, listening to her doctor and her best friend discuss her "illness" as if she were invisible. They think I'm crazy because I cut my wrists, because I won't talk. I don't talk because they can't hear me. They won't hear me, they never have. I'm just tired, that's all. Tired of all the talk, the emptiness, the betrayals by people who claim to love you. That doesn't make me crazy, just fed up, she concluded, beginning to unfasten the buttons of her pale peach cotton blouse, the tiny white buttons taunting her nut brown fingers with slippery elusiveness. She knew Dr. Dennis would stop her, because for some reason she couldn't stop herself.
"We've discussed this, Rayne," Pauline Dennis said, speaking with a calmness that chilled Rayne, stilling her shaky fingers. "Button your blouse, Rayne."
Rayne released a long, deep sigh, heavy enough to drop to the ground, hitting it like a rubber ball and bouncing back into her chest, until next time. She did what she was told, as she'd always done.
Periodically, as the trio meandered down the paved pathways that ran the circumference of Cedar Grove Medical Center, Gayle Davis, Rayne's lifelong friend, would stroke Rayne's mane of black, crinkly hair with a slender brown hand, almost as you would a pet or a small child who'd wandered into your space in the midst of an adult conversation. Absently.
Rayne hated when Gayle did that. Hated it. It infuriated her so much that she'd almost shouted the words: Stop it, dammit! I'm not that stinking cat of yours, or your neglected daughter. But she didn't. She'd never been able to express her feelings, the emotions that swirled within her. So instead, she screamed the words-in her head-where they bounced around, echoing over and over: Stop, stop, stop ...
Inside her head was as far as she could go these days-most days, actually. Lately, though, she'd wanted to crawl out, back into the world again. But thought better of it. It was safer just where she was. She gathered her hair in her hands and dragged it in front of her makeupless face, effectively escaping.
"Why does she do that?" Gayle whispered harshly, moving to brush the hair out of Rayne's face.
Dr. Dennis stopped her. "Fix your hair, Rayne," she instructed in a cool monotone.
Rayne emitted another baleful sigh and did as she was told.
"These are all manifestations of Rayne's trauma, Mrs. Davis, her unspoken need to hide, to disappear, get away from whatever is haunting her. They'll slowly stop when we get to the core of her problem."
Gayle shuddered despite the warmth. "What is her problem? It's been two months, Dr. Dennis," she complained, her voice taking on that clipped tone that often grated on Rayne's nerves. Rayne never told her about that, either. "I don't see any improvement." She adjusted her fitted gray linen jacket over her round hips. "Paul and Desi have been gone for almost six months. She was coming to terms with it. And then ... this. You came highly recommended-as the best." Gayle's voice hitched a notch as if she no longer believed in the laundry list of recommendations attached to Dr. Pauline Dennis's name, Rayne mused, as Gayle patted her head again and continued to push the chair.
Stop, stop, stop ...
Pauline nodded in doctorlike agreement. "I appreciate your concerns, Mrs. Davis. But you must understand that recovery from a mental breakdown is not like a broken limb where the doctors can give you a timetable for healing. At this point, I'm not quite sure what triggered Rayne's break. She won't talk. I do believe, however, that Rayne's problem dates prior to the deaths of her husband and daughter. Something that was never dealt with. The car accident was only a trigger for her suicide attempt at her father's house."
Gayle stopped short, jerking the chair to a halt. "I've known Rayne almost all my life, Doctor. If there had been some ... some underlying problem, something wrong, I would have known. She's always been well adjusted, hardworking. Everyone loves Rayne. You've got to do something to help her. We're closer than most sisters."
We were until I found out you were sleeping with my husband, Rayne reflected absently. But it doesn't matter much now-since Paul's dead. She blinked and her thoughts snapped to other things, their voices fading into the scenery.
What was worse than being patted on the head? Rayne wondered. Oh, yes-being spoken about as if you weren't there, she thought, and heard her laughter as the realization chimed in her head. They think I don't hear, I don't feel, don't think. It's not true. It isn't. I write it all down in my journal, every night when everyone is asleep and the nurses are busy skulking in the corners with the doctors ... whispering, always whispering. Giggles ... sometimes.
The soothing tones of Dr. Dennis drifted to her, scattering her disjointed thoughts. "Unfortunately, in cases like these we usually discover that the patient, over time, has developed the ability to function quite normally in society, developing a barrier against the world to hinder discovery of what is truly going on with them or often to protect themselves emotionally from further harm." Much as I have done, Dr. Dennis thought as she gazed across the landscape of the mentally ill.
"I just don't understand it. If something had been going on in Rayne's life, some secret or whatever, she would have told me. I know she would." She breathed heavily. "Has her father been here to see her?" Gayle asked as they rounded another curve.
Rayne sighed again.
Pauline stuck her hands into the pockets of her starched white smock, so stiff it barely moved. "No. He's called several times to check on her progress."
They came to the end of the path, the wrought-iron gates, like swirling black storm clouds, the cutoff point for insanity.
Gayle turned to Pauline, the honey brown of her eyes shimmering in the sunlight. "Please, Dr. Dennis, whatever you need to do to make Rayne better, just do it. You don't know the Rayne that I know, that the world was beginning to know. She's a wonderful, caring person with a brilliant filmmaking career ahead of her." Her voice faltered momentarily with emotion, like the sound of a stereo losing an instant of power.
Emotion, real or imagined-Rayne couldn't tell.
"Please help her," Gayle pleaded.
Pauline, reading her assurance cue from the watery look in Gayle's eyes, placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. "We're going to do everything we can for Rayne, believe me. Time and patience are the great healers," she said, the line memorized from more than a decade of practiced repetition. "Give Rayne that," she added, the solemnity of her tone calming the jangles in Gayle's stomach.
Rayne almost believed the words. Time and patience. Almost.
Gayle blew out a breath, her bangs responding with a slight flutter. "I suppose none of us have a choice," she said. She came around to the front of the chair and bent down, placing her newly manicured hands on each side of Rayne's face.
"Rayne, honey, it's me, Gayle. Just say something, Rayne. Let me know you hear me."
You hurt me, Gayle, she screamed in her head. You were supposed to be my friend. I trusted you with my secrets, my fears. And you used them to screw my husband. You bitch. Did you hear that?
"We all love you, Rayne, and want you to get better. Your goddaughter, Tracy, misses you terribly."
I had a daughter once, Rayne recalled. Her name was Desiree. My baby. She loved me. But she's gone, too.
As Gayle leaned forward to kiss Rayne's cheek, she frantically raked her fingers through her hair from the nape of her neck, bringing the thick bush forward to shut out Gayle's face. But not before that instant of clarity beamed in her eyes. That instant of pure hatred and pain that reached down with cold fingers deep into Gayle's soul and squeezed, sending shockwaves of ice coursing through her veins. Gayle shuddered, rocking back on her haunches. A feeling of physical violation permeated her.
On shaky limbs she stood, forcing a smile.
"Fix your hair, Rayne," Pauline instructed.
Rayne did as she was told.
"Uh, I'll be back ... next week," Gayle muttered. "If you need anything, you have my number."
Pauline studied her for a moment. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, fine." She wanted to run. "I've got to go." She turned and hurried down the last few yards toward escape.
Pauline gripped the handles of the chair, turned it around, and headed back toward the facility. "Gayle's a good friend, Rayne," she said in that cool voice. "She loves you a great deal. And she's very worried about you."
Rayne sighed heavily.
Pauline learned from the weeks of working with Rayne that her sighs were an indication that she was tuning out a comment or situation. It was the only outward sign that she understood, or had any feelings about what was going on around her. At least it was a start. Although this case was difficult, Pauline was intrigued by Rayne Holland, intrigued in a way she was not with her other patients. She knew Rayne heard and understood, was aware of the world. Why wouldn't she speak? What had so traumatized her that she'd rather be silent, shrink into a tiny dark corner of her mind to hide? From what? Who? There was something about Rayne, a familiarity of spirit that drew Pauline to her, a part of her that understood the torment and fear. It was as if they were joined in some intangible way. Pauline shrugged off her moment of frustration and continued down the path, even as her resolve to uncover what lay beneath Rayne's veil of self-protection grew.
By degrees the natural light, the sounds of nature, the scent of flora and sweet rich earth began to diminish to a trickle, like a hose almost shut off but not quite. If Rayne squeezed her eyes shut and thought really hard, she could hold on to her piece of serenity for a few moments more. A few moments before the baby blue walls and the rustling of white stockings brushing against thick thighs, the metallic clang of medicine carts and food trays, the irritating sounds of Muzak pumped in from some unseen source and the cloying scent of disinfectant-a few moments before they overwhelmed her with the weight of their existence.
The moment was gone.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Rayne, for our regular session," Pauline said, pushing the chair back into Rayne's private room. Her haven.
Her room was located on the sixth floor of the facility-as it was called-a corner room that overlooked the garden below. Spacious, and painted in a soft peach-her favorite color-the perimeters at the top and bottom of the smooth wails were covered in a riotous fabric of bursting flowers that matched the short curtains, camouflaging the protective mesh that pressed erotically against the window.
In the morning, when the sun first rose above the trees, the light filtered through the mesh, casting shadows of boxes and diamonds across the walls. Sometimes Rayne would imagine that they were small, secret passageways. Passageways to freedom.
An oversized chintz chair, hugged by several throw pillows, sat on the gleaming wood floor. There was nothing in the room that was personal. No photos or mementos from her life. It was almost as if Rayne Holland's existence began when she entered Cedar Grove. But of course that was not true. She had a life, or at least she thought she did, until it came apart.
Rayne moved languorously across the room toward the window where a row of potted plants sat on the sill. Picking up the water jug, she meticulously watered each one.
Pauline watched, her hands hidden in the deep patch pockets of her smock. Sighing, she turned and quietly closed the door behind her. Rayne heard the click of the metal against metal. She lowered her head.
I know you're trying to help, Dr. Dennis, she thought, looking up to stare out across the sea of green below. I want you to help. I want to feel again, rise above the dark clouds that push me down, smothering me in nothingness. I'm tired of being tired.
Chapter TwoTHE DRIVE BACK TO THE center of Savannah took less than twenty minutes. To Gayle it felt like forever. Each visit to Rayne depleted her in ways she could never explain or understand.
Some days it took all she had to walk through those gates, face her friend, and see her ... that way. Oh, God. Her throat burned and tightened, her eyes filled as she drew closer to her home.
They'd been so close once, sharing everything, Gayle reminisced, a sad smile shadowing her coral-tinted lips. They'd met in fifth grade in Ms. Hubert's English class. They were both ten years old. Gayle hated English. Rayne was the brightest one in the class. Outside of class she was so quiet, hardly said a word to anyone. But there was something about Rayne that drew Gayle. Everyone said Rayne Mercer was weird, at least when she was younger. Gayle didn't think so. She just needed a friend.
One day at lunch in the school cafeteria, Gayle spotted Rayne sitting alone. As usual, the cafeteria was in a state of bedlam with the student body of three hundred making good use of their free time. The cacophony of raised voices, banging, slamming utensils and trays competed for superiority. Yet Rayne seemed oblivious to it all as she nibbled on her peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sipped her milk right from the carton, peering sporadically over its red-and-white top to the sea of faces that swirled around her.
Excerpted from In My Bedroom by DONNA HILL Copyright © 2004 by Donna Hill. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Reading Group Guide
Rayne Holland is a woman who appears to have it all: a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful five-year-old daughter, and a rapidly rising film career. What everyone doesn't realize is that behind closed doors, the picture is not so perfect. And in the recesses of Rayne's mind she harbors a dark past that even she is unaware of. Then tragedy strikes and Rayne slowly discovers that the story of her life is just beginning and nothing and no one are as they seem...
Gayle has been Rayne's best friend for years and always secretly wished that her life was more like Rayne's, from Rayne's wonderful husband to her burgeoning success. Gayle had been the one to introduce Paul to Rayne and a small part of her still regretted the day. Although Gayle married a good man and has a good life, she can't help feeling that the grass may be greener on the other side. Out of a deep sense of guilt, Gayle tries to help Rayne along the road to recovery, even at the expense of her own marriage . . .
Pauline, Rayne's psychologist, found herself drawn to the lovely woman from the moment they met. For in Rayne, she sees parts of herself, disturbing similarities and secret pains. Faced with the most daunting case of her career, Pauline must walk the thin line of medical ethics knowing that if she saves Rayne, she may lose everything but if she takes the risk she may save herself as well and unlock the secrets that would free them all.
Told with Donna Hill's grace, wit and uncompromising honesty, this novel explores the strength, passion, hope and healing of three extraordinary women.
1. Rayne and Gayle considered each other friends since childhood. However with Gayle's jealousy and Rayne's inability to open up to her friend; exactly what was their relationship?
2. The male characters in this book represented a larger than life strength and power. But their came a time for each of the female characters to realize their own strengths; which allowed them to see the men for who they really were. …as human. How was this represented in the story?
3. Do you think that if Edith had communicated to Rayne that she was being sent to her Aunt Mae's home for Rayne's own protection, as opposed to being sent due to Edith's jealousy, that would have helped Rayne in her growth and development? Or did the (10) years spent alone with her father make it already too late?
4. It seemed that in Rayne's case Dr. Dennis own past of incest and abuse helped her in figuring our the kind of trauma that Rayne may have experienced. Did this knowledge help Rayne of did it hinder her treatment?
5. How do you feel about Roberts's attraction to a woman who was committed to a mental institution? Did the fact that he already knew her as a successful movie producer overshadow the fact of where she was? Was his interest appropriate? (He did make the statement to Rayne to not allow where you are define who you are)
6. The two Rayne's fought for their place as the prominent personality, who won out and why?
7. Self worth and the feeling of safety were taken away from both Rayne and Dr. Dennis at an early age. What was the contributing factor and how were they able to find such great success in their careers when they were so insecure with who they were as women?
8. The death of Paul and Desiree, though devastating, was not the worst obstacle she had to deal with. Why did she seem at peace with their death and more afflicted with the fears of the "shadows"?
9. Amazingly Gayle was able to put her life and her marriage back together. How did Rayne's presence help in that situation?
10. Could Paul and James be considered contributors to their wives insecurities or were they victims?
11. Dr. Dennis questioned Gayle's friendship and loyalty when trying to convince her to allow Rayne to stay at her home. Was that fair? Or was it just necessary for Dr. Dennis to do whatever it took to save Rayne from shock therapy.
12. Rayne saved herself by taking her power back from her father as one of her final steps to recovery. What made her want to help Edith as well?
13. In this story of incest, power and survival; there is a wonderful story about the will to survive and overcome even the most devastating of events. How is this represented in each of the characters?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book had me captivated from the very first chapter. The writing style and plot of this story was great. Imagine: Losing everything you love (Your Husband, your only child and you sanity) all in the blink of eye, while watching and fearing everyone else who claims to love you. If your looking for something to read that makes you risk it all for happiness, along with the characters, this is the book for you.
This book is definitely not a classic, with literary merit. I can't see myself or anyone else re-reading this book. The story is just barely interesting enough to keep you turning the pages. I only finished the book because it was my book club's selection. Let me preface my comments with the fact that I'm a lifetime, AVID reader having read hundreds of books of all types. So when I compare this to other books I've read, this is not one I'll remember in 10-15 years. Because I'm always looking to discover great new authors, I was excited to read my first book by Donna Hill. But after reading this one I probably won't read more of her works unless someone convinces me this is her worst book.
I love this book it pulled me in from the first page. i had never read donna hills books but now i'm am totally into her work. the whole novel just touched my heart and wouldnt let go i've actually read the book more than once because i loved it so much.
Donna Hill has her own style, and you never know what she is going to touch on until you start reading. When I bought the book I thought I was going to read about a lot of steamy love scence. It is so sad to know that there are so many little girls who are being molested by their own relatives. I like how Donna makes us aware of live changings situations. I wanted to cry so many times with Rayne. She lost her mom @ 6 years old & then she really lost her dad as well. I wish she felt she could talk to her best freind Gayle. But in the end she was truly a best freind. Keep up your excellent work Donna.
This book made me so mad at the end that I really threw it down when I was finished! I totally disagree with the other readers, the only reason I read this book until the end is because I never quit a book once I start it and I was hoping that something shocking would happen at the end. The whole story is PREDICTABLE I knew who was abusing her all along and I didn't care about her friend Gayle's problems or Robert's! I wasn't even sad about her husband and daughter because they weren't in the story long enough for me to care. I've read An Ordinary Woman by this author, that was a good book this was NOT!
Donna Hill is an awesome writer. This is the first book that I have read by her in 4 years. Simply remarkable. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Read it in two days.
I have read several of Donna Hill's books and have always found them to be exciting, the characters well-drawn and her themes always make a poignant statement about life. Reading Donna Hill is an adventure, a discovery about life's truths. I couldn't put the book down, and savored every word. I'm currently reading 'Divas, Inc.' and the book is hilarious.
Ms. Hill received 5 stars for a story well written . . . that kept me on the edge of my sit. Donna Hill is an outstanding artist with a talent beyond belief. God has truly Blessed . . . continue to share your gift.
This book was really good, I think the book was extremly well written. The author took her time telling the story to allow the readers to grasp what Rayne was going through. Let's face it the girl had some serious issues, but she hung in there and got throught it. Cudos to you Ms. Hill.
Donna Hill has done it again. She has proven to the literary world that she can write about any subject with grace and passion. For her romance fans, don't worry, Hill is still at her best..a true writer. She takes on the subjects of incest, rape, family ties, and friendship in this novel. And she does a splendid job! In My Bedroom is a literary wonder! No one truly knows what goes on in another person's bedroom. But for Rayne Holland, the main character, her bedroom holds the truth to a not-so perfect life. Hill's character development of Rayne must have been very thought provoking. Because the words from Rayne made me cry laugh and smile. Any book club should be happy to read and discuss this book. I love it when a author can write more than one way, meaning they can write romance, drama, comedy, etc. And believe me Donna Hill is on her way to becoming one of those authors. Way to go Donna!!
I am a huge Donna Hill fan and have most of her books. 'In My Bedroom' was superb. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. So much so that I finished it in 2 days. Rayne Holland overcame obstacles that the average woman probably would not. This is a well written book and was a stretch for Donna but as always, she pulled it off without a hitch! Kudos to you Donna and keep up the god work. New readers will be in awe!
I thought that In My Bedroom by Donna Hill was amazing. I have always loved Donna Hill's books and this one juct adds to my collection of her books. New readers of her books will be addicted
In my bedroom is a brilliantly written tale. The main character, Rayne appears to be leading a satisfying life, but the reader quickly discovers that she had been a victim of incest and has blocked the memories of her tragic childhood. The tragic death of her husband and daughter places her back in the situation she had escaped.A suicide attempt lands her in a mental health facility and with the assistance of her psychiatrist, a woman who has also experienced the horrors of molestation, Rayne bravely peals away the layers of pain that she has masked for years. A must read for 2004.
I REAL LIKED IT A LOT. I THOUGHT IT WAS A EXPERIMENT WITH MY READING STYLE. I THOUGHT IT WAS A LITTLE SAD AT ONE POINT. BUT ITS A MUST READ.
In My Bedroom is by far Donna's greatest work! Her use of metaphors is wonderful and refreshing! In My Bedroom takes the reader on an exciting journey through the psyche of two victims of incest, Rayne Holland and her psychiatrist Dr. Pauline Davis. I am deeply touched by this book; it is on my list of re-reads! I hope there will be a sequel!
Rayne Holland lives the perfect life. Her husband Paul adores her and their daughter Desiree loves her. On the professional front, her fourth film documentation is garnering all the awards. However, inside the façade, Rayne hides a dark secret, a place where she mentally vanishes when she fears something. Neither Paul nor her best friend Gayle Davis realizes how Rayne vanishes in plain sight. On the drive home from her latest award, Rayne informs Paul that she knows about his affair with Gayle. She understands why he would look elsewhere though she is angry at Gayle for being promiscuous with her husband. As Paul insists he loves her, a head-on collision occurs that kills Paul and Desiree. Six months later Rayne totally hides inside herself with only her sighs telling her psychiatrist Dr. Pauline Dennis that she is listening to the world around her. Pauline has her own problems, but wants to help Rayne recover. Also at her side is Gayle who risks her marriage to aid her best friend, but the only emotion displayed by Rayne is hatred towards her. IN MY BEDROOM is a tremendous look at three people in varying stages of crippling mental prisons. Especially gripping to the audience is whether Rayne will leave her sanctuary she has parked her mind in. The lead trio rings true while the support cast including the deceased Paul enables the audience to look even deeper at predominantly Rayne, but to a lesser degree Gayle and Pauline. The angst level is beyond the stratosphere as readers feel the pain of the prime players and admire how Donna Hill invokes deep reactions from her audience. Harriet Klausner