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“Townsend writes lovingly of the Italian world in a love story about questioning of values and ideals.” – ForeWord Reviews
“A pleasant read, full of cultural ethos…” – Kirkus Reviews
“As a granddaughter of Italian immigrants, I have always been drawn to stories set in Italy. So often they are stereotypical…wine, beautiful countrysides, simplicity, good food. This novel does something most don’t. It takes you to the inner nuances of the Italian ways…the mystery, the secrecy, the fact that so much is not spoken, is hidden, not discussed. I think the author got this right!” – LibraryThing Early Reviewer
Smart, career driven Jamie had not intended to fall in love. And to a foreigner no less, an Italian who doesn’t reveal his heritage at first. Jack is short for John, he tells her, but she soon discovers that John is short for Giovanni. Insanely handsome and intense but unreadable, Giovanni is a man of few words. An engineer with degrees from prestigious universities, she assumes he’s driven by the American dream like she is. Success, prosperity, Jamie comes from a long line of career women and there is no question where her future lies. Love, she believes strongly, does not give him claim to her soul.
When after two months together she accompanies him to his cousin’s wedding in Italy, Jamie learns that he hasn’t been back to the troubled family estate in ten years—and with one step upon the rich Italian soil covered in ancient vines, it’s as if he never left. Suddenly his language is no longer her language, and Jamie is drawn inexplicably into an Italy that outsiders rarely see—a crumbling villa, an old family scandal, a tragic mother, an estranged father, and a host of spirited Italian cousins. Jack is finally forced to face the destiny he’s been renouncing; and Jamie makes a rash decision, unaware that it will change her life forever.
Gentle, intelligent, hauntingly real, this story will leave you thinking long afterwards about the oceans that separate us from the ones we love.
Curled Up With A Good Book Blog
“This novel took me a while to finish, not because it was slow or boring in the least, but the subtle nuancing of the story made me really want to take my time to make sure I didn’t miss anything. The characters were fascinating enigmas throughout and the tension between the sisters was palpable…REEL LIFE was a thoroughly compelling tale.” – Bellas Novellas
“Surprising twists add to the drama, as infidelity and betrayal re-occur like a generational curse. But, that’s real life, and ultimately, REEL LIFE turns out to be interesting, just like in the movies.” – 4 out of 5 stars – San Francisco Book Review
Reel Life, the debut work of fiction by Jackie Townsend, charts the story of two sisters who must call upon the past to forge a new and meaningful connection. With iconic moments of contemporary cinema as its driving narrative thread, this finely-wrought, absorbing work will cut straight to the heart, and reveal the intricate emotions which come together in family.
Separated by barely a year, the two redheaded sisters that share the stage of this novel couldn’t be more different. Betty blossoms into a gregarious and creative woman, whose maternal instinct knows no bounds. Rejecting their mother’s narcissism, she embraces each of her numerous pregnancies with an almost manic fervor. Her sister, Jamie, affects a profound indifference to family, striking out into the world with a fierce independence.
As each copes with the pervasive conflicts generated by their dramatic mother and heavy-hearted father, they must also deal with the deeply underlying question, “Are sisters always there for each other?”
Throughout, the novel filters their inner journeys through the prism of films that mark each stage of their lives; from the false hope of The Wizard of Oz to the dark tones of Blue Velvet to the child-like magic of Shrek. When resentments build and secrets are harbored, all that binds them together is the spell of the cinema. When a betrayal rips them apart, a movie and a drink are no longer enough to hold their tenuous union together.
Exploring themes of motherhood, body image, ambition, and love, Reel Life offers a poignant close-up of the most intimate of relationships that move, confuse, haunt, and heal. Surging with drama interlaced with subtle irony, Reel Life will shock, surprise and move anyone who understands that sometimes, escaping reality offers the clearest path to emotional truth.