PAINTING JULIANA: A Novel ~Martha Louise Hunter
“Husbands have refinanced the family home and moved the equity into their business; quite often, they will set up separate bank accounts with separate mailing addresses. It is called insurance.” He pauses soberly. “You would think more women would do it, instead of being stupid, trusting imbeciles.” Chapter 6
PAINTING JULIANA is definitely about a Texas housewife which reflects the Texas attitude and spirit about women, and then it is not. It is a story about dreams, careers, lawyers, light and dark, wind and tornados, canvas and brushes, mental health and psychological abuse. The story is Juliana’s experience of her lawyer husband throwing her out of the house and telling her they are getting a divorce. She has only what she can grab in 20 minutes and put in her car and by the time she gets to the gas station her credit cards are cancelled and she has only the funds in her wallet. She is court ordered to leave her 14 year old twins with their father. He invents lies to tell the daughter and the son. It takes the whole length of the book and Juliana figures it out and gets a very classy revenge.
Our first introduction to Juliana she is a seven year old and about to start second grade and a dream sequence/ nightmare begins to frighten her awake each night. The dreams begin when her mother hangs up black – out curtains to keep the outside – outside. Her mother has experienced so much racism that she has become an agoraphobic and she never goes outside. Juliana’s parents are both CPA’s and she is not aware that her father is a painter, whose parents insisted he get a safe career and not paint. He has lost his dream and his beautiful wife insists that he release his painting activity even more.
The writing is fairly fast paced and I think that helps the story move forward and not drag; the reader truly wants to know what happens next and is left guessing the outcome often. There is a great deal of adultery in the story and subtle but stealth nasty maneuvers using the law. Partners appear to be working with the other, yet we find that maybe these actions are part of their destruction. This is Hunter’s first novel. I think her writing will get better and I am looking forward to her second book. My copy of the book is an uncorrected proof and had several unfinished sentences and abrupt transitions, which I am sure the editors will correct before the sale copies are sent to stores.
How can a woman endure so many problems at once and remain emotionally open and parent her children in stolen moments and car pool? Alzheimer’s, no money, parent’s house in disrepair, only an old Indian motorcycle to drive, bills piling up, brother angry and not helpful and then this reoccurring dream; Juliana holds on – barely. The divorce papers fly out the window, Texas sized problems and no true friends.
TLC Online Booktours and Martha Louise Hunter, sent me a copy of PAINTING JULIANA for review and it was quite the exciting read and a warning to lots of women who are ignoring what is happening to them or are living someone else’s dream. A woman finding her true self, the extremely hard way – PAINTING JULIANA
PAINTING JULIANA was a finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.