Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Alabama Author: Michelle Richmond

A couple of yeas ago, probably at a library book sale, I picked up a copy of Michelle Richmond's 2007 novel, The Year of Fog. The cover and story description intrigued me, as did the note in the author blurb that Richmond is "a native of Mobile, Alabama." I recently read the book and figured a blog post is in order.

The Year of Fog was Richmond's second novel, after Dream of the Blue Room (2003). Her first book, published in 2001, was the story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. Three more novels have followed: No One You Know, Golden State and The Marriage Pact. She's also published another collection of stories, Hum. 

That second novel was a New York Times bestseller and listed as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal. The book received other accolades as well. I can understand why; the characters and story are compelling and the writing is intense and keeps the narrative moving.

The novel opens with Abby and her fiance's six year-old daughter Emma walking along a foggy beach in San Francisco. Within minutes Emma disappears, and the remainder of the book chronicles the efforts of Abby and fiance Jake to find her. Along the way the reader is introduced to the city and its surfing and other cultures, and the growing estrangement between Abby and Jake. 

We also learn a great deal about Abby's family and youth in Alabama. Like the author she grew up in Mobile, and along with her efforts to remember what happened that fateful day, Abby is also pulled into memories of family trips, Murphy High School, Airport Boulevard and Gulf Shores beaches. She even brings Jake and Emma on a trip to Gulf Shores during happier times.

I won't say any more about the narrative, since it has several surprising twists and turns. I just recommend you read it, and I'll be reading more Richmond in the future.

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