Connie A Thompson

Tag Archives: Barbara Claypole White

Review of Barbara Claypole White’s The Perfect Son

51YP+MLWosLFelix Fitzwilliams strives for perfection. He is meticulous in his professional life. His wife, Ella takes care of the household and their teenage son, Harry, who lives with Tourette’s Syndrome.

Ella has been Harry’s champion helping him adjust to the nuances of life in the world that doesn’t understand the disorder. Ella quit her job as a jewelry designer to be Harry’s full-time Mum. Felix didn’t have the patience or understanding to deal with Harry. He worried that he would become like his father. Felix makes the money working long hours while Ella devotes herself to family and home.

Harry has scored 1400 on the SAT. His mother wants him to choose a college close to home. His father dreams of an Ivy League education.

Heart troubles send Ella to the hospital. She needs rest. Felix must take over all of Ella’s duties and care for their son. Felix must find a way to balance his professional and home life, and he discovers Harry is in love, and it appears the girl loves him too.

Harry and Ella have an eclectic and eccentric group of friends. Harry and Max have been friends since preschool. Max helps Harry navigate through high school. Eudora is their neighbor, a retired professor with a passion for gardening and knowing when to pop in on father and son. Katherine is Ella’s best friend. She doesn’t care much for Felix, but for Ella she tries. Reluctantly they work together to give Ella the time she needs to heal. Harry must learn to rely on himself and his father.

I immediately fell in love with Ella and Harry. I found myself wondering what she ever could have seen in Felix. He had a demanding father, but that isn’t an excuse for being so emotionally withdrawn.

The squirrel scene is hilarious. You’ll just have to read it.

The Perfect Son is about relationships, a young man living with Tourette’s Syndrome, and a love story. By the last page, you’ll understand why Ella fell in love with Felix.

I found myself staying up long past my bedtime reading to find out what happened next. Five stars to The Perfect Son.

For a limited time, The Perfect Son is a Kindle First pick and available for a special pre-order price. The novel is available July 1.


The In-Between Hour

41AP5DiV37L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I was fortunate to win an ARC of this novel in a Facebook contest, and I am thrilled to report that it is every bit as engaging as Barbara Claypole White‘s first novel, The Unfinished Garden.

Hannah, William, Poppy, Jacob, and Galen are all imperfect people. Hannah has trouble setting boundaries. Hannah and Will both have secrets that need to be revealed. Poppy is a free spirit with the realities of the world closing in on her. Jacob mourns the loss of his beloved wife and doesn’t want his son, Will to put him in an old folks home. Will can’t understand his father’s grief. He only remembers his mother as unstable and embarrassing. Galen is a young man with a death wish and his own secrets.

The novel pays close attention to that in-between hour — the time as dusk approaches and the day wanes turning to night. This is often the time when the evening sky is colored in various arrays of blues, pinks, oranges, golds and even grays. And yes, sometimes a gray sky can be beautiful. Since reading the novel, I catch myself looking for this particular moment and I’m often amazed at just how the landscape changes for that short time.

White’s five characters come along side one another each with their own hurts, their own agendas, their own demons, and the only way to rescue one another is through the aid of others. Will doesn’t understand his father, but Hannah and Poppy do. Will struggles to come to terms with the grief of a lost son while his father has blissfully forgotten. Each evening Will must plot out his son’s new adventures in Europe for this is how Jacob accounts for the lack of his presence. Hannah doesn’t understand her son, Galen. To her, he is a wonderful and intelligent. She doesn’t understand the depression that comes over him, but Will does and he tries to show Galen the things he has to live for. He’s frustrated by a young man who wants to take his own life while his own son didn’t live past the age of five. And yet there is an understanding there. Will begins to realize that the best way to help himself is by helping others.

There are delightful scenes that will make you laugh, harrowing scenes that will make you flinch, and of course touching scenes that will bring tears to your eyes.


Book Review: The Unfinished Garden

TUGThe Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White is a love story about damaged people. Tilly Silverberg is a widow with a young son. James Nealy is a retired professional with OCD. His illness is to thank for his retirement – not because he was having difficulties functioning, but because he’s made enough money to retire thanks to long hours and his extreme attention to detail. James has a new obsession, he must have a garden, but not just any garden – he falls in love with Tilly’s garden.

Tilly is an accomplished gardener. She owns and operates her own nursery. She is just what James is looking for, but Tilly is not interested in designing his garden. Tilly agrees to think about it and she’s off with her young son to visit her ailing mother in her homeland, England.

In the English countryside, Tilly reconnects with her best friend, Rowena and her first love, Sebastian, who just happens to be going through a divorce. Should Tilly have married Sebastian all those years ago? And what about James, who has braved his extreme fear of flying and germs to come to England to persuade Tilly to design his garden. James is the type of man who is used to getting his way, but Tilly does not care about the money. She has her own fears to deal with and she continues to grapple with the guilt she feels for her husband’s death. Should she have held on?

As a widow, I empathized with Tilly. I understood her. I thought White did a beautiful job portraying the various stages of grief. It is hard to move on and there is so much guilt and fear associated with moving forward.

Tilly finds herself at home in England. Should she stay? What would that do to her son? North Carolina is the only home he has ever known.

The Unfinished Garden is a wonderful summer read and you have to keep turning the pages to see if Tilly will choose Sebastian, James, or the ghost of her late husband.