I just read a new novel from a favorite of mine–Karen Brown’s The Longings of Wayward Girls. Last year, I reviewed Karen’s short story collection, Little Sinners, and Other Stories, which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize.
Brown’s emotional stories cut to the quick. They wound; they scar. The stories in Little Sinners are intelligent, dark, deep, and murky, much like a woman’s soul. Brown has a keen sense of what works. At only 194 pages, Little Sinners is short, but its issues are weighty. I dare you to read Little Sinners and come away empty.
Brown has done it again with The Longings of Wayward Girls; in fact, I think it’s even better than Little Sinners and that’s saying a lot. Compelling, atmospheric and smart, The Longings of Wayward Girls lures you in, beguiles, and even abducts you for a time. You are in Brown’s dark domain where deep guilt, loss and impossible longing rule. Little Sinners, and Other Stories as well as Pins and Needles made Brown the darling of critics, but I predict The Longings of Wayward Girls will speak to readers and critics alike. Brown is a powerful force in fiction today, but her new novel makes her distinct voice even louder and more relevant.
About the Book:
It’s an idyllic New England summer, and Sadie is a precocious only child on the edge of adolescence. It seems like July and August will pass lazily by, just as they have every year before. But one day, Sadie and her best friend play a seemingly harmless prank on a neighborhood girl. Soon after, that same little girl disappears from a backyard barbecue—and she is never seen again. Twenty years pass, and Sadie is still living in the same quiet suburb. She’s married to a good man, has two beautiful children, and seems to have put her past behind her. But when a boy from her old neighborhood returns to town, the nightmares of that summer will begin to resurface, and its unsolved mysteries will finally become clear.
About Karen Brown:
Karen Brown was born in Connecticut. Her first collection of short stories, PINS AND NEEDLES, received The Grace Paley Prize
for Short Fiction. LITTLE SINNERS AND OTHER STORIES won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. Her stories have appeared in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories 2008, Good Housekeeping, and in many literary journals. She studied creative writing at Cornell University, and received her Ph.D. in Literature from the University of South Florida, in Tampa, where she currently teaches. Her debut novel THE LONGINGS OF WAYWARD GIRLS will be published by Atria/Simon and Schuster in July 2013.
An interview with the author.