In An Awful Way
Selling her beloved possessions at a flea market in Lambertville, New Jersey, isn't something Hester Randal ever imagined she'd have to do; but here she is, down on her luck and in an awful way.
When the young manager, Jimmy Raymer, invites her out for a drink and his domineering ex-fiancé shows up, Hester finds herself in the middle of a nasty triangle. Bad things happen at the market, and the current of Hester's life rushes toward its turning point as swiftly as the ever-present Delaware does to the sea.
Will Hester find a solution to her heart-rending dilemma, or will she really lose her head this time?
In An Awful Way is the second in The Dangerous Things Trilogy and traces anti-heroine Hester Randal's life after her divorce from her obnoxious and narcissistic husband, Al Murphy. Alone, unemployable, and broke, thanks to Al's dishonest machinations, middle-aged Hester has to resort to selling off things with which she never thought she'd have to part. Still in the shadow of her past sins and struggling to woman-up to her new, harsh reality, Hester is befriended by the Silver Nugget Flea Market manager, who's half her age. Jimmy Raymer is drawn to Hester because she reminds him of his dead mother. Hester, lonely and trying to make a go of it as a flea market dealer, succumbs to Jimmy's charming personality and generosity. He seems to be a regular guy, but he harbors a dreadful secret that both Hester and his ex-fiancé, the stunning and hard-headed Cecilia Kurts, the love of his life, don't know.
Cecilia broke Jimmy's heart a few years ago by moving in with an older, influential woman and becoming her lover, but now Cecilia's biological clock is ticking and she needs Jimmy in order to get pregnant.
The lives of these three characters become enmeshed when tragedy strikes. Two shocking events occur. Is it the devil himself at work? Or the hand of God?
Hester Randal, once again, finds herself dangerously close to the edge of sanity as she faces an impossible choice. Can she transcend her own fears and sorrows in order to do what's best for everyone?
Hester Randal, believing it was the right thing to do, gave up parental rights to her infant Pearl. Heartbroken and penniless with no place else to go, she returned to the deserted and half-demolished Pleasant Palms Trailer Park in South Florida. She has to get her life back on track in order to one day return to Pearl.
At first, she finds solace in the isolated and neglected park. There is a wild beauty to the place that she begins to appreciate. But this reprieve from her sorrow and regret is only temporary.
The young manager of the Silver Nugget Flea Market and Pearl's father, Jimmy Raymer and his wife Cecilia promised to keep Hester apprised of her infant's progress, but weeks pass without a word.
As Hester's anxiety mounts, her world again begins to unravel. A check the Raymer's gave her bounces, her van breaks down, she can't find a job. But worst of all, there's no way for her to get back to her child.
When it appears nothing more can go wrong, one man returns to Pleasant Palms. This is a bad omen. If all of the residents come back and rebuild the trailer park, Hester will most likely get thrown out. After all, she was the one who buried her dead student's body under the Bo tree by her patio, and when the body was discovered by the developer, he quickly canned the deal costing the owners millions. No one will forgive Hester. Even if they did, she has no money to pay the assessments.
Hester, on the edge of disaster, struggles to maintain her equilibrium. So many people she trusted turned their backs on her, including her old friend Eric Longstreet, a regular at the flea market. She'd always believed he would keep in touch with her and keep an eye on Pearl.
Disappointment mounts. The man who has returned to the park seems friendly enough, but have Hester's instincts ever been right?
Hester seems caught between a rock and a hard place. Desiring to transcend her troubles, she turns to her new copy of Walden. She tries to write poetry, but all the while her spirit is wandering into deep and turbulent waters.
Will she lose herself in the wave of troubles coming right at her, or will she be able to turn it all around with the tonic of wildness?
Though With the Tonic of Wildness is the last in the Dangerous Things Trilogy, it can be read as a stand alone novel.
On The Edge of
When a hurricane jogs off course, quaint Pleasant Palms Trailer Park isn’t the only thing ripped apart. Right in front of Hester Murphy’s eyes is the unbearable evidence of who her husband Al really is. As a young English teacher, Hester was drawn to sexy Alexander Murphy like a moth to a flame. With her perception clouded by lust and anxious to have a family of her own, Hester overlooked the cracks in Al’s veneer and committed herself to him. Now the retired teacher begins to piece together the darkest of her husband’s secrets, while memories of her own transgressions are driving her mad. She finds her only reprieve in her treasured books, but sometimes even the words of her beloved writers are no consolation. In the end, does Hester have the fortitude to bring the scandalous facts about Al into the light of day, or will she once again choose to the coward’s way out and sweep yet another horror under the carpet? A cautionary tale for young women, a song of lament for women of experience, and an eye-opener for men, S. Snyder-Carroll’s debut novel, "On the Edge of Dangerous Things," boldly explores the psychology of shame, how it insidiously plagues thoughts and goads even more appalling actions. Disgrace is a heavy yoke for Hester to bear, and like the Hester in "The Scarlet Letter," she tries to stoically accept her tribulations as just punishment in hopes of earning God’s forgiveness. But at the same time she wants what every woman wants: to be loved by the man she loves, to have it all come hell or high water…and that might just be her undoing.
With The Tonic of Wildness