“This is a literary gem . . . one of the best books I’ve read this year.”—Ellen Hart
"This raw and convincing first novel is narrated by a woman who can’t help testing the limits of her ability to endure pain in her intimate relationships with men and women... the vivid characters and potent emotions keep the pages turning."—The Advocate
Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.
Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.
As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.
Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought this book was pretty amazing. I tore through it in a day and a half. It's intense, nonlinear (which I usually don't like but did in this case) and uses language in very surprising ways---something else I usually do not like but did with this book. At times I found it hard to believe the extremes in this character---professional Latin teacher and hard drinking masochistic surfer woman could really coexist in the same woman. But I found it very compelling nonetheless.
If the gods of literature exist, they are smiling right now. Jill Malone's debut novel has certainly made me smile. I've just had the pleasure of reading an advance copy, and I feel like an explorer who has just discovered a wondrous territory, and I can't wait to tell everyone, show them this miraculous landscape that Jill Malone has created for us. The blurb posted mentions Sarah Waters and Margaret Atwood. Throw in any author whose skill and maturity and dexterity with language makes you happy, and it won't be overkill. Joan Didion's novels. Jane Rule. Jane Smiley. Jane Hamilton. I am not overstating when I say that Red Audrey and the Roping measures up, more than meets that standard. Honestly, I got chills reading this novel. It's that good. It's not often that a writer of such skill, such ease with tone, style, dialogue, setting, comes along. Set in Hawaii, the story moves with Jane Elliott through a series of failed relationships, a series of disjointed scenes that all have to do with Jane's inability to trust herself and trust that anyone can love her. She struggles to come to terms with her dissociated life. 'The fire flickered without much warmth or enthusiasm. Emily rubbed her hands against the outside of my legs like a trainer. Her hands burned the surface of my skin. I shivered into a towel, her body bright and warm against mine as if I still shielded the match in my palms. I name that moment, I name that place, as the one that moved beyond what I could handle. As the one that moved.' What Jane can't handle is the crux, the heart of this novel, set in rich language, lush descriptions of both physical setting and the emotional geography of Jane's constant attempts to break free of the scars left by her mother's death. Until her repeated efforts to feel something lead to jumping off cliffs, until she can't feel anything. Hurling herself at challenges, at walls, at lovers, at anything she thinks will break her, Jane finally finds that, like Icarus, brief moments of flight that bring her closer to destruction don't just burn away her wings but burn scars that begin to show on the outside as well as inside. Tethered to the ground, tied to the thing she would throw herself against, Jane breaks. This is a novel of such depth and skill and beauty that I can only record my awe at Malone's immensely engaging, readable, memorable first novel. If there are gods of literature, let them look down in praise. If there is justice, Jill Malone's first book will make her famous.