||Sept 3, 2008
Laurel-Rain Snow's Creations
A story that illustrates the cycle and historic sequence of abuse and betrayal, this literary fiction examines one woman’s will to survive and the scars that define her and ultimately set her free.
Authentic, encompassing and believable, Web of Tyranny by the author Laurel-Rain Snow is a rich journey of the woman’s heart in all of its flawed glory. Stirring, this narrative tale is a furtive and complex story full of people, language, sadness, torture and, ultimately, inspiration.
Set during the 60s and 70s, the incredibly and convincingly flawed Margaret Elaine Graham leaves a bad childhood to unwittingly marry a control freak. If hindsight is 20/20 it takes Meg a few turns on the stile to set things right.
Caught up in a near-compulsion of politics and war demonstrations, her growing addictions are tantamount and indistinguishable from her self-loathing and the mysterious veil of lies and betrayals, deeply buried, which, too, are the source of many of her current fears, dilemmas and growing addictions. Enticed by new possibilities and chafed by the strictures of marital ties, Meg bolts from the marriage with her toddler son in tow and reinvents herself as Lainey Graham.
In her journey, she meets and connects with other women who seek to create a niche for themselves in radical politics in the emerging women’s movement and professional careers. An unfortunate affiliation with a disturbed young woman, Gretchen Collier, adds another dimension of tyranny to Lainey’s laden life, but in a leap of faith, she turns the ill-fated encounter into an opportunity to free herself from yet another negative relationship.
The women who support her redefine themselves through numerous processes available to them. As they move toward a deeper understanding of their needs and desires, they gradually evolve into the full flower of their humanity.
Inhaling the scent of burning leaves, she remembered a time long ago.
Back then, she had longed for the autumn leaves with their reds and yellows and deep russets, crisp under her feet as she marched along a country road, waving at school friends and waiting for the big yellow bus. Fall meant the cessation of summer harvests with the inevitable packing sheds steamy with the pungent odor of rotting fruit. Autumn signaled a farewell to long days beginning at the first hint of dawn and ending at dusk, followed by late-night suppers. And good-bye to days of wandering barefoot along the dusty rows between the trees, while layers of dirt formed a crackling patina dislodged only by several soakings in hot pails of water. Autumn days meant blessed release from her father’s twenty-four-hour-a-day surveillance.
On the heels of the fading summer days came the beginning of a new school year, complete with an array of homemade clothing sewn with generous seams so they would last all year. Skirts and jumpers in red or green plaid with matching white cotton blouses, worn with deep red or brown
oxfords. And little white ankle socks. Finished off by a matching book bag slung around the neck and across one shoulder.
Lainey thought about all of these images as she ran through the streets of her new neighborhood. And like the autumn days of long ago, she hoped that this one would bring a host
of new sense memories.
Kirkus Discoveries - September 3, 2008
The burden of child abuse follows Meg Graham from her strict fundamentalist upbringing to the Summer
From the time she is ten years old, Meg is determined to escape her father’s controlling grasp, get an education and marry the man of her choice. As a young woman she reaches her goals, but happiness eludes her.
Miserable in her marriage, she takes her toddler son and leaves her controlling husband, builds a satisfying career as a social worker, finds emotional support among new women friends and explores the sexual mores of San Francisco in the ’60s. She rejects the conservative values of her childhood through alcohol, pot and
(mostly) fleeting relationships with men. She also changes her name to Lainey. The novel’s multiple subplots reflect the messiness of real life but
divert focus from Meg/Lainey as the central character. Two subplots in particular—the machinations of sociopathic Gretchen, who orchestrated a rape to blackmail Lainey, and the complex relationship between the artist Rainbow and Natasha, a social worker who years before caused Rainbow
to lose custody of her child—could form the core of the story or a separate novel. The question of whether Meg/Lainey was sexually abused as a child hovers over early chapters, but as the story progresses, it is eclipsed by the novel’s other complexities. Only when Lainey begins hypnotherapy do repressed memories of abuse come to the fore, as does her awareness that she is abusing alcohol to bury her feelings about the past. A retired social worker, Snow does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the ’60s in clothes, interiors, dialogue and attitudes, but the steady onslaught of new characters and subplots diminishes Meg/Lainey as a character. The relationship between Natasha and Rainbow is the strongest part of the book. As they go through the process of betrayal and forgiveness, they emerge as richer characters than Lainey, who, despite her journey of self realization,
still comes across as a lost soul.
A rambling voyage of discovery through the ’60s.
Exciting Story! You will love Meg...and this author.
I seldom enjoy books longer than 350 pages, so I was intimidated when this book came in at a whopping 608 pages. Ouch! I almost shoved it to the bottom of the growing TBR pile.
But I've read this author before, so I decided to glance at page one. "Only page one," I muttered under my breath... But page one was enough. I was hooked!
There's nothing that hooks me on a book quicker than a skilled author making me care about the main characters. And that's exactly what Laurel Rain Snow does in Web of Tyranny! She reeled me in as easily as a shoe salesman flashing a pair of red Pradas before my eyes--flip-flops, of course. LOL.
I fell in love with the main character Margaret Elaine Graham--Meg for short. That girl tugged at my heartstrings from the beginning of this intriguing story; I was a goner! We first meet her at age ten when she struggles to understand why her father is so controlling and mean to her. Poor Meg becomes entangled in a web of tyranny that "smothers" her life for decades.
Author Snow weaves her web of well-chosen words in such intricate ways that we follow Meg from one type of tyranny to another. But the innocent child is inventive, learning to cope by sheer courage, determination and natural self-preservation. She's a good student, smart and sharp, so she finds some escape through her studies and friendships.
Why doesn't her mother help? What happens to Meg later when she escapes through marriage? Is her husband the answer...or will he be controlling like her father? All she wants is freedom and escape from tyranny. Does her husband support her goals? Does she stay in the marriage?
Throughout her childhood abuse, Meg fails to find the meaning behind some of her more frightening "memories," so shoves them to the back of her mind. For many years--throughout her marriage and as she develops close relationships with supportive women friends--she refuses to examine the deep, dark thoughts that rush to the surface on more frequently occurring occasions.
This author takes Meg through college and the birth of her child with such clear, crisp writing that the pages fanned right through my fingers. On and on I read, empathizing as our main character struggles through one wrong choice after another, but when she turns to alcohol, my heart broke for her. She was weaving a web that would entangle her even tighter than the one her father had spun.
How does Meg finally overcome and find her long-awaited freedom? I can't tell you that, of course, but I can tell you that she becomes a social worker, which gives her a certain amount of the freedom she craves. Her job brings her into contact with other women like herself, while friendships with other social workers helps to a degree.
I recommend you read this book to find out what brings Meg to fulfillment. You will delight in watching her tear down that web...one painful strand after another. And you will undoubtedly learn skills that will help in your own relationships.
I've read three of Laurel Rain Snow's books, but since she has written five, I have two more treats in store. She certainly is a gifted writer, telling one story after another with such self-assurance that it's obvious she knows all about human relationships and the social-worker's job. She should, because she was an esteemed social worker, helping many women like Meg along her career path.
I recommend this book highly... To be read at a leisurely pace, along with soothing cups of tea.
Reviewed by Betty Dravis, April 2009
Author of: "1106 Grand Boulevard"
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