Review: A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner


January 18, 2017

Tirgearr Publishing ASIN: B01N0HL432

Contemporary Fiction Rating:  5*

In Willowood, Kentucky 1965, after a severe beating and rape Robin Lee Carter set a fire that killed her rapist and ran.  The resulting rape left her pregnant and after having the babe which she gave up for adoption she left again to reinvent herself.   Legally changing her name to Catherine Henry, she went to school and later married a medical school dean living in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine is desperate to find a bone marrow match and must return to Willowood.  There she will face her family and her 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, whom she gave up for adoption.  Though her return will likely lead to a murder charge, Catherine is willing to lose everything, including her life, and beg in order to save her dying 5 year old son.

Wow, it has been a long time since I actually sat and read a book cover to cover in one sitting, but this was one of those rare times where the reader becomes so invested in the outcome that you simply cannot put it down!  Not only was A BEND IN THE WILLOW that compelling and written so powerfully, it was also a new author I had never read before! My only issue and it is so minor, was reconciling the title with the story.

The early portion of A BEND IN THE WILLOW held the story of a struggling family, with a loving mother, her three children, and their father who suffered from PTSD following his service in Vietnam. A changed man from the loving, caring man her mother described to a young Robin Lee.   And with the beginning portion fully covered the reader gets to see and feel the emotional impact of all the motivations that lead to this powerful character driven novel.

Bottom line:  Loved this story!  I can’t describe more without giving spoilers, but this is a powerful story and  I could see this on the big screen as a major motion picture.   One note to new readers, have some tissues handy as there are parts where you will definitely need them.   Ms. Clayton-Gardner wrote beautifully capturing real emotions of real people who have struggled through life and you will have to lay this novel down more than a few times to re-compose yourself in order to continue.  VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Marilyn Rondeau

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