Item description for Painted Dresses: A Novel by Patricia Hickman...
Overview Crushed by a failed marriage, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees to her late aunt's mountain cottage. There, while seeking solace for life's disappointments, she discovers a mysterious gallery of framed painted dresses---enshrined with meaning known only to Aunt Amity. Joined by her capricious sister, Delia, Gaylen embarks on a search for far-flung family and forgotten secrets.
Publishers Description In this story of sisterhood and unexpected paths, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees her unraveling marriage to take refuge in a mountain cottage owned by her deceased aunt. Burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia, she is shocked to find a trail of family secrets hidden within her aunt's odd collection of framed, painted dresses. With Delia, who attracts trouble as a daily occupation, Gaylen embarks on a road trip that throws the unlikely pair together on a journey to painful understanding and delightful revelations. Steeped in Hickman's trademark humor, her spare writing voice, and the bittersweet pathos of the South, "Painted Dresses" powerfully captures a woman's desperate longing to uncover a hidden, broken life and discover the liberty of living authentically, even when the things exposed are shrouded in shame.
From Publishers Weekly Hickman's slow-paced but best novel since Katrina's Wings begins with protagonist Gaylen Boatwright, whose life is a mess. In her late 20s, she's called home to Boiling Waters, N.C., because of her father's death. When her unbalanced sister, Delia, shoots a woman, Gaylen decides to flee the law with her. Along the way, Gaylen and Delia deliver some unusual painted dresses their deceased aunt bequeathed to family friends and relatives, each dress symbolic of an incident in the past. These visits provide clues to the puzzle of Gaylen's life. With divorce papers in her pocket, she wonders about love, God, her sanity and the role of an incarcerated older brother in her nightmares. When the law catches up with Delia, Gaylen must determine whether her past will define her and what her future will hold. Hickman gamely unpacks the lies families tell each other, the cost of family secrets to ourselves and others, the bonds between sisters and the walls between husbands and wives. Her sparkling talent is evident in this engrossing story. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Citations And Professional Reviews Painted Dresses: A Novel by Patricia Hickman has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
CBA Retailers - 07/01/2008 page 98
Publishers Weekly - 05/26/2008 page 40
CBA Retailers - 06/01/2008 page 36
Romantic Times - 07/01/2008 page 72
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PATRICIA HICKMAN, author of acclaimed novel "Painted Dresses," is an award-winner, speaker and humorist who has won two Silver Angel Awards for Excellence in Media as well as a "Romantic Times "Reader s Choice Gold Award for her novel "Katrina s Wings." Patricia holds a master s degree in creative writing from Queens University and enjoys biking, hiking, and mapping out the Southern towns where her novels are set."
Patricia Hickman currently resides in Huntersville, in the state of South Carolina.
Reviews - What do customers think about Painted Dresses: A Novel?
Painted Dresses Dec 23, 2009
This book touched me in a very personal way. It is the story of a young woman dealing with the breakup of her marriage, the death of parents, and a whacky, needy sister. On a journey with her sister, she uncovers some dark secrets from her past and also finds healing. I loved the way this book was written. You can tell it was personal for the author and cost her to tell it.
A Soul Offering Jan 8, 2009
Remember the old woman who secretly gives a penny offering and the Master tells his followers her reward is greater than all the rest? This is the lesson that comes to mind after reading Patricia Hickman's novel, Painted Dresses. Out of the harshness of life, Patricia offers us a penny, all she has, and it is precious. Painted Dresses reminded me of Barbara Kingslover's earlier novels like Bean Trees, and later, Prodigal Summer. I read Painted Dresses last summer with a friend and we discussed it on one of our walks. We both liked it, though it deals with difficult themes--family wanting to take care of each other, not knowing how, but wanting to. It is the story of two damaged sisters, Gaylan and Delia, and how one learns to cope while the other does not. It's about setting judgment aside in search of truth and compassion. Painted Dresses is about the clothes we wear underneath it all that stain our souls. This is a great read.
Gritty and Challenging Read Jul 25, 2008
I recognize Gaylen and Delia. Unfortunately, that means there are families so touched by deep, dark secrets that members of those families become unable to function in a normal relationship. We all have those broken spots in our lives...can we swing in a circle and not bump into someone who is scarred?
Delia is flighty, rebellious and out of control. She peppers her surroundings with emotional buckshot. Gaylen spins like a toy top, bouncing and whirling elsewhere (anywhere) attempting to do what she knows is right. Her crippled past guarantees that those right things will fail.
This novel is a very gritty read. Not your traditional inspiring Christian fiction. If there are categories of Christian fiction...one being sharing the hope and light of Christ and His power, the other showing how desperately hope, light and power are needed, Painted Dresses falls in the second category. You won't feel warm and fuzzy after reading it. You may find hope, it's not a hopeless read, but it is a very long look into lives of people who spend weeks and months grasping, gasping and trying to protect their view of themselves, regardless of the cost.
I applaud Patricia Hickman's desire to open a closet door, and if you love fiction that goes to the dark place in a human's soul, you definitely need to read the first chapter. Those who've been there may find healing by opening up and peeking in.
Good novel about the value of family and the power of truth Jul 24, 2008
Painted Dresses by Patricia Hickman is a story of one woman's search for her place in her family her marriage, and her world. Gaylen arrives home to organize her father's funeral and take care of his effects, but ends up on the lam with sister Delia and delivering a series of painted dresses made by Aunt Amity. Delia is troubled; it's never clear if she suffers from some kind of mental condition or is just off. She shoots her boyfriend's wife after a confrontation and is not at all remorseful. Gaylen grabs Delia and runs. She's running herself from a broken marriage and the damage she did to her husband's aircraft business by crashing a plane. When visiting deceased Aunt Amity's cottage, they discover that she had made paintings of several different dresses, and each is marked with the intended recipient's name. With no better plan in mind, the two sisters deliver the paintings, picking up bits and pieces of family history on the way. Gaylen is incredibly difficult to understand. Her actions are always reactions, and she has trouble trying not to control Delia. The hidden truths she discovers about her parents and her own history are devastating. The opening chapters are cloudy and distant; it feels almost like the characters are in a dream. When the truth about the past is revealed, the story suddenly becomes much clearer and moves quickly. It's a powerful story, but honestly but Gaylen and Delia were difficult to relate to. It was hard to care about Gaylen's marriage when both she and her husband acted like immature brats. It's a good book with some rough spots.
Painted Dresses Jul 20, 2008
Heart wrenching and suspenseful at the same time. This semi autobiography is a eye opener and warning to all that may suspect or have suspicions about their childhood.