(Reviewed by Judi Clark Feb 10, 1998)When the book opens, it is 1945 and Inez Temple is a maid at the St. Augustine motel where two newlywed couples (Rose and Charlie Looney, Eudora and JuniorJewel) are staying. Inez is cleaning Rose's room when Rose comes back to her room sick from her pregnancy. Inez comforts her by giving her a cup of tea. Inez knows better, but can't help herself, she looks into the bottom of the tea cup and sees the bars of a cage. Next we leap to fifteen years later. We find that the Looney's and Jewels have been best friends and bought houses right next door to each other. And Inez is their black guardian angel helping through the difficult times.
This is Fowler's first book and I liked it far better than Before Women Had Wings simply because it is more my type of fiction - it has that touch of magical reality. I first read Sugar Cage nearly 4 years ago and re-read it again last year. I'll probably read it again in a few years, I like it that much. It mostly takes place near St. Augustine, Florida during the 1960s and evolves around some very ordinary people, but also highlights a visit by Martin Luther King and the magic of an Haitian mambo who works in the sugar fields.
- Amazon readers rating: from 11 reviews
"Before Women Had Wings"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark Feb 8, 1998)
Avocet Abigail Jackson, otherwise simply called "Bird", is a mesmerizing narrator and just keeps us turning pages as she tells her tale in stark and honest language. This fictional story is based on the writer's own experience as a child growing up in a poor abusive alcoholic household. It is so well written, the book goes way beyond a cathartic experience for the writer and is a respectable piece of fiction. However, be prepared, it is a truly depressing book.
If you recall, Oprah turned this into a TV movie when she stopped having 'Selections of the Month' while fighting that Texan court case about hamburg... I didn't see the movie, but Carl's mom gave it a bad review.
- Amazon readers rating: from 73 reviews
Read an excerpt from Before Women Had Wings at Random House
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Sugar Cage (1992)
- River of Hidden Dreams (1994)
- Before Women Had Wings (1996)
- Remembering Blue (2000)
- The Problem with Murmur Lee (2005)
- How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly (2010)
- When Katie Wakes: A Memoir (2002)
Movies from books:
- Before Women Had Wings (1997)
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- Official Connie May Fowler Web site
- Reading Guide for Before Women Had Wings
- Reading Guide for Remembering Blue
- BookPage review of When Katie Wakes
- Reading Guide for The Problem with Murmur Lee
- Curled Up reivew of The Problem with Murmur Lee
- MostlyFiction.com review of How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly
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About the Author:
Connie May Fowler lived in St. Augustine, Florida until her father died when she was seven, leaving her, her mother and her sister in near poverty. At that time, her mother moved the three of them to Tampa. Connie received a full scholarship to the University of Tampa when she began publishing poetry in small presses. She earned her B.A. in English and then worked as a freelance writer. In 1987, she married Mika Fowler and moved to Kansas where she enrolled in graduate school. She intended to study poetry, but was encouraged to write fiction. After she received her M.A., Connie and Mika returned to Florida where they continue to live. Connie is also an environmental activist.