The Book of CarolSue (Paperback)

By Lynne Hugo

Kensington, 9781496725677, 320pp.

Publication Date: August 25, 2020

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

Award-winning author Lynne Hugo returns with a life-affirming, poignant novel in the spirit of A Man Called Ove—a story brimming with both wit and warmth about how a family gets on . . . and goes on.
 
CarolSue and her sister, Louisa, are best friends, but haven’t had much in common since CarolSue married Charlie, moved to Atlanta, and swapped shoes covered with Indiana farm dust for pedicures and afternoon bridge. Louisa, meanwhile, loves her farm and animals as deeply as she’d loved Harold, her late husband of forty years.
 
Charlie’s sudden death leaves CarolSue so adrift that she surrenders to Louisa’s plan for her to move back home. But canning vegetables and feeding chickens are alien to CarolSue, and she resolves to return to Atlanta—until Louisa’s son, Reverend Gary, arrives with an abandoned infant and a dubious story. He begs the women to look after the baby while he locates the mother—a young immigrant who fears deportation.
 
Keeping his own secrets, Gary enlists the aid of the sheriff, Gus, in the search. But CarolSue’s bond with the baby is undeniable, and she forms an unconventional secret plan of her own. How many mistakes can be redeemed?
 
Praise for the novels of Lynne Hugo
 
“Sparkling prose, wry humor, and timely, relevant themes abound.”
Donna Everhart, USA Today bestselling author of The Moonshiner's Daughter
 
A tender hymn of hope and rebirth that stays with you long after the last page.”
—Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
 
“I lost hours of sleep as I raced to finish this extraordinary novel.”
Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of Waisted
 
“Delivered with humor and heart.”
Terri-Lynne DeFino, author of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (And Their Muses)


About the Author

Lynne Hugo is the author of ten novels. Most recently, The Testament of Harold’s Wife, introduced the characters whose stories continue in The Book of CarolSue. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient who has also received grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Where the Trail Grows Faint won the Riverteeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize.  Born and educated in New England, Lynne and her husband now live in Ohio with Scout, a yellow Lab best known for playing skillful shortstop with a tennis ball and terrorizing squirrels in multiple states. You’re warmly invited to visit LynneHugo.com.


Praise For The Book of CarolSue

Praise for THE BOOK OF CAROLSUE

“In The Book of CarolSue, Hugo deftly combines whimsy and longing, old grief and newfound joy. With her unique and compassionate voice, she writes about loss and redemption in a way that makes you laugh out loud one minute, tear up the next. Either way, you’re sure to experience tender feelings for her engaging cast of unforgettable characters.”
Diane Chamberlain, best-selling author of Big Lies in a Small Town

“Sparkling prose, wry humor, and timely, relevant themes abound in this genuine story of two sisters, a son, and the unexpected arrival of a small, immigrant child. Hugo writes about internal conflict with sensitivity, and compassion, making for a compelling page turner about personal loss,
perseverance, and rediscovering the heart of family."
—Donna Everhart, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Moonshiner's Daughter

"Lynne Hugo writes down to the bone of family complications, grief, and shattering loss, while also offering miracles of rescue in The Book of CarolSue. The author walks a perfectly balanced tightrope as she illustrates how political conflicts are woven right into the heart of an Indiana farm family. I lost hours of sleep as I raced to finish this extraordinary novel."
—Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of Waisted
 
"The ability to take tough issues and get others truly see them is nothing short of magic; Lynne Hugo expertly wields that wand. In The Book of CarolSue, the plight of today's immigrants, a mother's sacrifice, and a family's grief reveal the vulnerability of love, and its incomparable strength. Delivered with humor and heart by way of those delightful characters readers have come to expect from this author, The Book of CarolSue will echo long after the last page is read."
—Terri-Lynne DeFino, author of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home For Famous Writers (And Their Muses)
 
 
Praise for THE TESTAMENT OF HAROLD’S WIFE
 
“The Testament of Harold’s Wife is a richly told tale that explores the human/animal connection and the journey to get past tragedy. Louisa, the spunky, elderly narrator delivers a tender hymn of hope and rebirth that stays with you long after the last page.” 
—Kim Michele Richardson, author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
 
"Grief can make a woman a little crazy, but it can also make her very entertaining! The Testament of Harold’s Wife is part romp, part suspense, but above all, a love story. I adored this fun yet poignant book." 
—Diane Chamberlain, NY Times bestselling author of The Stolen Marriage

"The Testament of Harold’s Wife is a glorious—and unique—tale of tragedy, resilience, and one kick-ass grieving widow and grandmother. I laughed, cried, and cheered as Louisa talked to her pet chickens, splashed bourbon in her tea, hid ‘Glitter Jesus’ around the house, and wrestled with revenge. Louisa captured my heart, and I will never forget her." 
—Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son and The Promise Between Us
 
"At the center of this moving, transcendent novel is the unforgettable Louisa. Perceptive, wry, full of righteous fury and enlarged by deep compassion...I promise you will miss her when you turn the last page. The story itself—flawlessly written and genuine to the core—takes an unflinching look at how we survive shattering tragedy and pointless cruelty and  continue to love the world. Its startling life-affirming conclusion will haunt me for a long time." 
—Patry Francis, award-winning author of The Orphans of Race Point
 
"Perhaps the toughest and bravest way to survive tragedy is by bearing up. In The Testament of Harold’s Wife, after losing her husband and grandson, Louisa weathers catastrophe through hard-fought wisdom, humor, and revenge served cold—fueled by a side of hot bourbon. I never left her side as she proved reinvention is possible at any age." 
—Randy Susan Meyers, bestselling author of The Widow of Wall Street 

"Lynne Hugo’s delightful page turner, The Testament of Harold’s Wife, is fast-paced, unexpectedly poignant, and fun. Louisa’s utterly winning voice propels us at breakneck speed. As a woman who has seen it all and lost it all, Louisa will take her place in the pantheon of unforgettable characters. You may never see an older woman in quite the same way again. This gorgeous new book, with its swiftly moving plot and subversive humor will stay with you long after you have finished the final page." 
—Laura Harrington, bestselling author of Alice Bliss and A Catalog of Birds

“Hugo’s latest is a sweet, sad, funny, meditation on the nature of aging and grief…This is a novel that would fit right in on the shelf next to novels like A Man Called Ove and similar books that balance humor and heartbreak.” 
—Booklist 

“I found a kindred spirit in Louisa, a somewhat eccentric, aging, bereaved woman who finds solace in conversing with her chickens. Her heart is empty and her rage is full. Relatable. Loss does that to you… The warp and the weft of Lynne Hugo’s characters in The Testament of Harold’s Wife are woven into a rich, tapestry of life, where the irreverent, unconventional, quirky 'flaws' become the very thing that make it absolutely perfect, and fills one with a sense of hope.” 
—Delilah, Delilah’s Book Club Pick


“A widower takes up her late husband’s mission to get revenge on the man who killed their grandson in the gripping latest from Hugo…Louisa is a charming protagonist.” 
—Publishers Weekly
 (A PW Online Exclusive Review)

“Suspended between heartbreak and hilarity, readers are sure to find emotional common ground in this story of an engaging elderly widow who sets her sights on revenge after the devastating loss of her husband and grandson, but unexpectedly finds hope, healing, and the possibility of a happy future… Lynne Hugo’s character building is superb… The plot is propelled forward at a good pace, and readers will be compelled to turn the pages as Louisa speaks with candor, wisdom and keen insight about her thoughts on life, The Plan, and her relationships with those around her… A winning and wonderful novel, with a unique and distinctive storyline, there is a little bit of magic for everyone within the pages of this book.” 
—The New York Journal of Books

The Testament of Harold’s Wife comes with a bounciness and light touch that surprises and delights…[as it] takes on the theme of survival, of hanging on…The results are poignant, but Hugo delivers a fresh blend of pathos and humor. The text is leavened by Harold’s wife, Louisa’s, tart observations on life and the failings of those around her, bless their hearts.”
—Wilmington StarNews   

"Lynne Hugo has become one of my top favorite authors.. I fell in love with Louisa, the main character in Lynne Hugo's book, The Testament of Harold's Wife, and was thrilled to see her new novel, The Book of CarolSue, continues Louisa's story, and creates new circumstances involving her sister, CarolSue. 
Lynne's characters are written with such brilliance that you are compelled to keep reading to learn more about their unique stories and relationships.  
I highly recommend both of these wonderful novels!"
Lori Fisher, Owner and Bookseller: Quarter Moon Books and Gifts Topsail Beach, North Carolina


Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

1. If you have a sibling, did you have roles in your family? For example, in some families there’s the smart one, the social one, the athletic one, etc. How do you see CarolSue and Louisa acting in – or sometimes breaking out of – the roles they have played in their family? Have you or a family member ever defied your own designated roles?


2. How did you react to Gary’s relationship to Rosalina? Did you feel he took advantage of her? Did she take advantage of him?


3. People grieve in many ways. How would you compare and contrast CarolSue’s grieving with Louisa’s? If you have had or been close to a major grief experience, did either woman remind you of that? If you’ve not lost someone very close, do you imagine yourself reacting in one way or the other, or very differently?


4. What is your image of a woman in her late sixties or early seventies? In what ways does Louisa challenge or confirm that? What about CarolSue?


5. What do you see as the role of animals in The Book of CarolSue?


6. If you have read The Testament of Harold’s Wife, how do you compare the two novels? A third book may be coming to complete a trilogy, although none will require that you have read the others. What characters from either of the first two, other than Louisa and CarolSue would you most like to see again? Why?


7. What do you imagine as the best futures for these characters? Was the ending satisfying? What do you think will happen to Rosalina? How about Gus and Louisa? Where do you see CarolSue fitting in?