Now available in both trade paperback and in multiple e-book formats, this novel by award-winning author Judith Laura focuses on the mother-daughter relationship and music. Three Part Invention,is multicultural fiction laced with humor and embroidered with a touch of magic realism.
Three generations of mothers and daughters take center stage, with 20th century events as backdrop, in this novel of depth and humor spotlighting the power of music—from classical to jazz, r&b, rock and international folk—and the tug between ethnic loyalty and global consciousness. Alice, a classical pianist and daughter of Eastern-European Jewish immigrants, marries violinist Izzy shortly before World War II. After their daughter Beth is born they move from New York City to the fictional town of Delaware City, New Jersey, where Izzy works in a furniture store. As she raises Beth, Alice exhibits prejudices too common in her generation against people racially and ethnically different from herself. Yet, in her own way, she is open to a variety of experiences. Alice’s world includes a psychic aunt, a piano teacher of Native American and Irish descent, an adult piano student in a wheelchair who reads palms, and her close friend Sophie, who has a daughter Beth’s age.
Beth grows up in Delaware City caught between her mother’s value system, her own ideas—and her quest for social acceptance. Beth's resentment over being made to study piano deepens the rift between her and her mother. In her teens, Beth is introduced to rhythm & blues by African American high school girls. Beth’s love of this music soon extends to rock, and then jazz—all of which her mother dislikes. At college in Ohio, Beth becomes involved in the early civil rights movement with her closest friends Melissa, a budding reporter and sexual explorer; Valerie, Beth’s intellectual mentor, whose family is evasive about their Native American ancestry and who ponders her possible lesbianism; and Julius, a Black civil rights activist who challenges Beth’s beliefs and self-image.
Alexis, Beth's daughter, is born in Denver. As a pre-schooler, she finds herself in an uncertain world, often confused because her learning disabilities reduce her communication skills. Yet she finds she can do remarkable things with music. Tension develops between Alexis and her mother as Beth struggles to overcome profound changes in her life.
These three distinct voices give us an unforgettable picture of the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship and of how women in three generations approach war, love, sex, death, career, friendship—and each other.
The Beltane Papers
By the time I was a third of the way through, I found myself admiring the way Laura is able to use distinctive "voices" for each character, including the two who are first presented to the reader as children, and how world events have peripheral effects rather than directly driving the action. Half way through, and I wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next....I knew it was a good book because when it ended I wanted more.
Midwest Book Review
Judith Laura's Three Part Invention is a compelling story of mothers and daughters, the conflicts in their relationship, and their efforts to help one another. Three Part Invention is highly recommended as a moving and emotional novel about growing up, living life, raising a family, and generational changes.
Naomi Graetz, author of Silence is Deadly
What is most interesting about this novel, is its details and its coverage of three women going from the mid 40's thru the late 90's....I was engrossed in the characters and wanted to continue reading.... Judith Laura is quite good about getting into the heads of three very different women, at different times in their lives and gives us a good sense of the times they live through....I would not hesitate to recommend this book.