Monday, December 8, 2014

PURPLE TREES: Ursula Wong guest post

Please join me in welcoming my guest author Ursula Wong, author of the women's fiction novel PURPLE TREES (Genretarium April 2014).

The Blurb: Lonely Lily Phelps is orphaned and in debt at seventeen. Her dark, hidden past causes her to see ghosts. This scared, naive girl must grow up fast if she is to find work, happiness, and build a future, but the weight of the past threatens everything she loves. Because of her terrible secret, Lily must protect her family form the worst danger of all – herself.

AUTHOR NOTES:

PURPLE TREES is a novel about salvation and love.

It’s about family secrets, and dealing with terrible experiences in unique ways. Lily, the main character, is a woman creeping toward madness, caused by a long-buried past tragedy. She is terrorized by life experiences that should bring joy, and does not understand why.

PURPLE TREES takes place on a Massachusetts dairy farm in the 1960s. I grew up on a dairy farm, and wrote scenes in the book of events that really happened. I hope readers get a feel for what the life-style was like. A scene where Lily goes to the barnyard to help her husband, Will, birth a calf is based on one of my husband’s first experiences on the farm. The cow pushed for a long time, and the calf finally slipped out. When it landed, it splashed afterbirth and worse onto my husband, a city boy from Brooklyn. I can still hear him squeaking as he ran to the house to clean up.

Other aspects of the story are pieced together from the experiences of many women I know.  No spoilers, but those who have read Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, Jane Smiley’s A Thousand Acres, or Carolyn Chute’s The Beans of Egypt, Maine will be on familiar ground when reading Purple Trees.

Purchase links:   Smashwords       Amazon

About the author Ursula Wong:

I’m a retired computer engineer with a husband, and a daughter who goes to college in California. We hope to become familiar with the Los Angeles area over the next few years. So far, we adore the beaches, but hate the traffic. I spend time writing every day, wherever I am. When we’re at home in Massachusetts, we’re involved in a number of volunteer organizations, including Habitat for Humanity.

My next novel, Amber Wolf, is about the farmers in Eastern Europe during WWII who fought against the Soviet occupation. The story brings together my ancestral heritage and my uncle’s experiences in the U.S. army in Europe during the war.

I also have a blog called Reaching Readers where I post very short stories, chronicle events, and announce new releases. For those who would like to receive the posts through email, send me a note at urslwng@gmail.com and I’ll sign you up.  You can see the collection of shorts on my website.

PURPLE TREES doesn't fall into an easy genre or category, so it’s work to find women who the book will speak to. I appreciate the chance to reach out to you through Donna Hole’s kindness and generosity in inviting me to post to her blog.

My review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story concept is simple and complex. Simple for the rural lifestyle depicted; complex for the issues of a child taxed with caring for her dying mother, then her father, and growing up with a brutal, life changing secret. It is a sad, and happy story; an otherwise  normal life plagued by an unbelievable secret. I laughed, and cried, and nodded in sympathy with the main character.

The story offers no moral conclusions; it just reports an untenable but common circumstance, and lets the reader decide if moral justice has been served in the end. I loved that the story begins in the present, with the main character, Lily, enticing her granddaughter to disclose a not-so-secret truth by way of telling her own life story. The story plot was obvious to the reader, but the author spun a masterful tale from the unreliable narrator's perspective.  I was drawn into the concept of how the two stories - the narrator Lily's past, and the granddaughter's present - were interwoven at strategic moments of the story building.

This story is not filled with action. The tension is expertly built through sympathetic characters trapped in a cycle of uncontrollable events. When it comes to story layers, Ms. Wong knows how to keep the readers interest. I was intrigued from the first sentence to the last. I highly recommend this the novel PURPLE TREES to any reader who is not afraid to dive into a story with complex moral dilemmas, and strong characters that deal with life as it is dealt.

I give this novel 5 stars, and would read more books by the author.

31 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like it would make a powerful movie.

Ursula Wong said...

Thanks for the comment, Alex. Sometimes when I write, I visualize the scene in my head. I think those are the best scenes because they're the most genuine, at least for me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I like how you can draw your own conclusions at the end.

Ursula Wong said...

I'm glad you mentioned the ending. I wanted people to come away with different impressions based on what they believe.

Dale T. Phillips said...

I wouldn't ordinarily read this type of book, but it held my interest all the way through, and the powerful images and characters stay with me. Thanks for telling us more about the author. If her first book is this good, sounds like we'll be seeing more of her in the future.

Ursula Wong said...

I'm actually working on a WW II novel about the Soviet occupation of eastern Europe. It's called Amber Wolf. People tend to love or hate war stories, but I hope you give this one a chance. As the novel evolved, it became far less about the war, and far more about the people.

Stacey said...

Having read some of Wong's short stories, I can't wait to dive into Purple Trees. Her descriptions and the emotions she evokes in her short prose are amazing.

Pat Hatt said...

Sounds like a great read indeed. Blah to the cow afterbirth, I'd be running to clean up too lol

Ursula Wong said...

I hear you, Pat. However, we love telling that story in my family.

dolorah said...

Alex: I was thinking that too.

Diane: it was an interesting end

Dale: yes, I'd read more also

Stacy: hmm, I'll have to check those out.

Patt: yuck, right?

Ursula: thanks for being my guest today :) It has been a pleasure to host you, and I really loved the novel.

Sorry about the word verif everyone. It pops up for no reason at all sometimes, and goes away on its own. Seriously freaky.

DEZMOND said...

Congrats to lady Ursula on her book!

Ursula Wong said...

Thanks for the responses, everyone. Donna, you are the best. Sorry about the "yuck" factor in the write-up. I just couldn't resist.

Tara Tyler R said...

great spotlight and review! this sounds like a deep book - layers upon layers and action is a plus! hope it does well!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats, Ursula!

mshatch said...

Congratulations to Ursula and great review, Donna! I like the idea of letting readers draw their own conclusions.

Ursula Wong said...

Thanks for your best wishes, everybody. It's good to connect.

Vlad Vaslyn said...

I read this book and I loved its gritty, in-your-face feel of the struggles of life. Have you considered writing a sequel, or this is a standalone piece?

Ursula Wong said...

Actually, I'm spending a little time on a novel called Born to It, which has the same setting as Purple Trees. It's the story of 3 men, and how their paths intertwine throughout their lives.

dolorah said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. I hope Blogger gets that word verif problem fixed soon so I can put my pop-up window back in place.

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful review and the book sounds great. Good luck to Ursula!

RW Richard said...

Good luck on your book, Ursula. The sixites were 'it' for me. So many great personal memories, so many horrible events.
Bob

Lisa said...

This sounds like one must take the time to decide to read a story like this, that it won't always be "easy." Very well done here in your description, and I really enjoy readying about other authors. Thanks for sharing!

Ursula Wong said...

Thanks Christine and Bob. Lisa, you are right that Purple Trees is not for the faint of heart. I think you can get an idea of where it's going from the preview in Amazon. I tried to end on a positive note, but the path there was crowded with thistles.

Chrys Fey said...

This sounds like a great book; one that would be full of emotion and even life-changing to the reader. Best of luck to Ursula. And wonderful review, Dolorah!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Donna and Ursula .. it does sound as though you've nailed the writing through your experiences ... Vlad confirms this in his comment. I'm sure you'll have a great deal of success with this and your other books - your characters are going to tell their story wherever the setting might be .. interesting ... good luck to you both - cheers Hilary

Ursula Wong said...

Thanks Chrys and Hilary...

Medeia Sharif said...

I like those stories that simmer with tension--not necessarily with action, because sometimes those action-packed ones lack a lot of characterization and heart. Congrats to Ursula.

Cate Masters said...

Sounds like a wonderful story. Best of luck with it, Ursula!

VR Barkowski said...

Great review, Donna. I love an open ending that makes me think. I also prefer character to action driven stories. Add to that I'm a recent transplant to Massachusetts, and Purple Trees sounds like a perfect read. I've added it to my tbr list.

Congratulations on your release, Ursula!

VR Barkowski

D.G. Hudson said...

Interesting and thoughtful review, Donna! Best of luck to Ursula! I know little of farms, and prefer city life, but reading about other women and their lives is something I do enjoy.

Ursula Wong said...

A final thanks to all of you for responding to the posting. Donna, you are a gem. Thank you for letting me drone on about myself and Purple Trees. Keep on reading, everyone!