All Saints

Karen Palmer, Author
Karen Palmer, Author Csbs $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56947-105-0
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-56947-138-8
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The lives of a Cajun ex-convict, a faithless Catholic priest and a white nurse married to a black musician converge in a compelling study of smothered fury and thwarted love in Palmer's strong debut, set in a sometimes overdrawn 1954 Louisiana. Bayou native Harlan Desonnier has just finished an eight-year stretch at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola: his crime, the murder of his wife because he suspected that their child was fathered by his best friend, Louis Chopin. Rather than face Louis back home, he goes to New Orleans. After a fistfight with his brother, Harlan gets stitched up by nurse Glory Wiltz. Lonely and at loose ends, Harlan seeks out Glory and Father Frank Doyle, who visited him in prison. Meanwhile these two reluctant saviors have their own troubles, as Glory struggles to get custody of her mixed-race baby and Father Frank wrestles with religious doubt. The three cover the southern Louisiana landscape together and separately: Harlan to face his young daughter; Glory to confront her lost husband; Father Frank to rediscover his calling. Despite meticulous research, Palmer's picture of the region--Cajun dialect, voodoo practices, Bible-thumping Baptist preachers--is not quite on the mark. Beneath the chers and the apothecary jars of one-eyed toads, however, lies a sensual, emotionally resonant story. (Dec.)
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