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In this story infused with all the flavors, textures, and intrigues of a small Southern town with a rich, resonant center, a divorce coach must heal her own broken heart when her marriage ends in tragedy.
- ISBN-13: 9781401301774
- ISBN-10: 1401301770
- Publisher: Hyperion Books
- Publish Date: March 2007
- Page Count: 432
- Reading Level: Ages 18-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 43.
- Review Date: 2007-02-05
- Reviewer: Staff
A therapist specializing in helping people get sorted out postdivorce has her own problems of the heart in King's latest (after The Same Sweet Girls). Since the death of her husband, "divorce coach" Clare has thrown herself into her work. And now that she has a booming practice on Alabama's gulf coast, her after-hours is packed with even more drama: her best friend Dory's marriage is forever on the rocks; her daughter Haley's husband abandons the family; Maine transplant and marina owner Lex is newly divorced, available and interested; and Zoe, Clare's dead husband's mother, is helping Clare accomplish her dream of creating a retreat center. With more than a little help from her friends—old and new—Clare lets go of her grief and gives love another shot. Though it exhibits that unmistakable Southern charm, King's writing also frustrates: backstories are hinted at but left murky, while nagging questions hang around for hundreds of pages (the circumstances surrounding Clare's husband's death, for instance) and overshadow Clare's present-day narrative. Storytelling kinks aside, King delivers what her fans want—strong bonds, strong women characters and triumph over tragedy. (Mar.)
Healing heartbreak leads to love
Cassandra King knows her South. Her fourth novel, Queen of Broken Hearts, is set in Fairhope, a sleepy town along Mobile Bay.
Clare Ballenger, Ph.D., is a middle-aged, widowed psychologist who counsels the distraught, separated and divorcedboth men and womenin her private practice. Her work becomes nationally recognized, and Clare is soon dubbed the "divorce coach." Much to the dismay of the local editorials and religious right powers-that-be, Clare is also setting up a permanent retreat, Casa Loco, for those recovering from the trauma and pain of divorce.
To escape her own loneliness and the haunting memories of her deceased husband, Clare throws herself into her career and her plans for Casa Loco. Nevertheless, her clinging to the past is challenged when Lex, a charismatic Yankee, moves to Fairhope and buys the local marina. The situation becomes all the more complicated when his ex-wife decides she wants him back. Then, Clare's work suddenly hits even closer to home when her own daughter is thrust into divorce proceedings. The joys and tensions of relationships between mothers and daughters, and the torment of letting go of the past to forge the courage to live in the present, all toss around like a buoy in a coastal hurricane.
Once again, King delivers, and in a humanistic style, all the while never straying from her south Alabama roots. With the same sensibilities that mark her earlier works, she weaves a story full of evocative imagery and memorable characters. Throughout the prose is as crisp and elegant as seersucker and summer linens; each storyline reads as smooth as a mint julep.
A member of the National Book Critics Circle, Elisabeth A. Doehring grew up along the waters of Mobile Bay.