“Mother Mary,” by Lesley Frost. Peppertree Press. 340 pages. $28.00.
Now in his sixties, rock star Peter McAllister has known both the glamour and grime of a four-decade career. Ever since the late 1960s, when he made it big with his group, Hazy Dayz, Peter has given far more attention to his career than to the three children he shared with the beautiful and supportive Carla. But with Carla’s death, he is lost. Complicating his grief is a group of letters he now receives from his brother, letters that Stan has been keeping, unread, for more than four decades.
In these letters, Mary Pierce, with whom Peter he had a brief relationship in Vermont, tries to persuade him to return to her – and to their love-child, Bobby. Peter had disbelieved eccentric stoner Mary’s claim of pregnancy before he left her, thinking it a ploy to hold onto him. Because Mary was freakishly possessive, Peter felt he had to escape from a dangerous relationship. Now the series of letters, the final one quite recent, preys on his conscience.
Indeed, that last letter finds Mary ecstatic. She has reunited with Bobby, whom she had been forced to give up for adoption when he was very young. He is now Dr. Robert Williams, a successful physician in Burlington. Could Peter’s offspring have a brother only slightly older than Veronica, Peter’s oldest acknowledged child? Peter must know the truth and, if necessary, make amends. But he fears what Mary might have become in the intervening years.
As the novel progresses, the reader discovers that Peter has every reason to be apprehensive. Author Frost reveals the abusive upbringing that Mary had received as prisoner to a demented grandmother who forced the young child to give sexual favors to the local banker. Ms. Frost is utterly convincing in presenting the physical and psychological reality of Mary’s upbringing and its horrifying aftermath. She skillfully manipulates her magnetic horror element. We want to turn away from its fearful ugliness, but we can’t!
To read the full review, as it appears in the Naples Florida Weekly for August 19-25, 2010 as well as other editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Lesley Frost pdf