The Problem with Murmur Lee
By Connie May Fowler
(Broadway Books, Paperback, 9780767921459, 288pp.)
Publication Date: March 7, 2006
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The bestselling author of Before Women Had Wings spins a wild new tale about the strong bonds among a group of friends that loses its quirkiest member, Murmur Lee. Exploring new literary territory while keeping to her native Floridian roots, Fowler is here at her most original and entertaining.
As a new year dawns over the island of Iris Haven, Murmur Lee Harp and her lover, Billy, go for a romantic sail without a care in the world. The evening comes to an abrupt halt when Murmur Lee discovers that she has drowned—but by whose hand?—in the Iris Haven river.
Grief-stricken and haunted by the mysteries surrounding her death, Murmur Lee’s circle of friends sets out to discover what really happened to her, and in the process they learn as much about her failings and triumphs as their own. After years of self-exile in the North, Charlee Mudd returns to set her best friend’s affairs in order, only to confront her own ghosts. Edith Piaf, a former marine whose sex change at the age of sixty-two Murmur Lee supported unquestioningly, must find the confidence to carry on without the encouragement of her friend. Lonely widower Dr. Zachary Klein plummets into the depths of depression at the loss of the second woman he has ever loved. As for Murmur Lee—who lived her entire life on an island named by her great-great grandfather in honor of the Greek goddess who receives the souls of dying women—in death she experiences her own journey as she is plunged into her familial past and discovers the truth about who she really is.
With poignancy and humor Fowler weaves the voices of Murmur and her friends into a compelling narrative. Part family saga, part murder mystery, The Problem with Murmur Lee is Fowler’s most rewarding and engrossing work yet.
Connie May Fowler is an essayist, screenwriter, memoirist, and novelist. Her novels include Remembering Blue and Before Women Had Wings, which received the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and was made into an Emmy-winning Oprah Winfrey Presents movie for television. She founded the Connie May Fowler Women with Wings Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding women and children in need. She is the Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
“The Problem with MurmurLee is a brave and beautiful book. It might be called a mystery, but the questions it asks are not who killed or even how or why. The questions Fowler asks are the ones we all ask: What is the meaning of one human life? How do we cope with loss, sorrow, or with our deepest fears? Where she takes us is not to mourning but to celebration. I loved Murmur Lee and will never forget her.”
—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina
Praise for Connie May Fowler
“If writing is a gift, then Connie May Fowler must be endowed with the gifts of ten muses.”
—Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Opposite of Fate
“[Before Women Had Wings is] a thing of heartrending beauty, a moving exploration of love and loss, violence and grief, forgiveness and redemption.”
“Connie May Fowler writes with great sympathy and insight.”
—Lee Smith, author of Saving Grace
“There is no denying the depth of Connie May Fowler’s talent …”
—New York Times Book Review
“[Fowler’s] prose is never less than as sinewy as cypress trees and as right as Christmas cake … Few writers capture poverty’s weird chemistry of aching hope and grinding pessimism like Fowler.”