Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: A Bend in the Willow by Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Bend in the Willow
by Susan Clayton-Goldner
Published: January 18, 2017
Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical


Willowood, Kentucky 1965 - Robin Lee Carter sets a fire that kills her rapist, then disappears. She reinvents herself and is living a respectable life as Catherine Henry, married to a medical school dean in Tucson, Arizona. In 1985, when their 5-year-old son, Michael, is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia, Catherine must return to Willowood, face her family and the 19-year-old son, a product of her rape, she gave up for adoption. She knows her return will lead to a murder charge, but Michael needs a bone marrow transplant. Will she find forgiveness, and is she willing to lose everything, including her life, to save her dying son?

Buy Link:

My Review:

Robin Lee Carter had a very loving and caring mother whom she loved very much and two brothers whom she also loved and adorned very much as well. Robin Lee left home just shy of her eighteenth birthday. She left because of a tragic accident that could put her behind bars for a very long time.

When Robin Lee left home she had her name changed met a wonderful man Ben Henry whom she fell in love with and married and had a little boy Michael. Now Catherine has a wonderful life and has put her past behind her. Until one day Michael has an accident and is sent to the hospital. While at the hospital they discover that he has a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia and needs a donor.

Catherine has told so many lies over the years about her past and now it may all come tumbling out. To save Michael’s life Catherine may have to return home and face her past and the people she left behind.

How will she ever tell the man she loves that she has lied to him about who she truly is and what she did all those years ago. How will the people she left behind on that tragic day except her now? What is going to happen to Michael? What will happen to Catherine when she returns home to face the music? Can she save her son? Will her marriage be left behind this time?

Robin Lee/Catherine is one very strong woman to have endeared all that she lived through her whole life. With never having gone through anything even close to what she did there is no way I can identify with her. There is no way I can ever say that I know what you are going through or I know how you feel because there is no way I ever could. I can feel for her; have compassion for her but I cannot know how she feels.

Michael is a very strong, loving and compassionate person as well. He is so adorable. I loved what he told his Uncle Kyle when he met him in the hospital. Kyle was a very strong and loving man as well and has very big heart and a soft spot for children.

With A Bend in the Willow Susan Clayton-Goldner had me from the summary not the first page. Once I picked it up and started reading I didn’t want to put it down.  Although there were times I couldn’t see the pages for my eyes tearing up. A Bend in the Willow will grab a hold of your heart and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until you think you can’t handle anymore. A Bend in the Willow is one of those stories that will stay with you forever and forever; never letting go.

Interview with Susan Clayton-Goldner

What inspired you to write A Bend In The Willow?

While the book is definitely fiction and a product of my imagination, I was inspired to write this book by some events in my own childhood and the way, as a child, I wanted to reinvent myself. Writing Robin Lee and Catherine’s story enabled me to do that. I think the possibility of losing a child is one of the most fearful things that could ever happen to a parent. When my children were young, it was my worst nightmare. Writing about Michael’s leukemia helped me face that fear.

Can you tell us a little bit about the next books or what you have planned for the future?

My next book will come out in May. It is entitled Redemption Lake and is a story of love and betrayal. It’s about truth and lies, friendship and redemption, about assuming responsibility, and the risks a father and son will take to protect each other. The detective in this story, Winston Radhauser, reappears in my next novel, a kidnapping story entitled When Time Is A River—scheduled to release in the late fall of 2017.  I plan to write a third book utilizing Winston Radhauser as my detective and then move onto Unforgettable—the story of a young priest who falls in love with one of his married parishioners. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in A Bend In The Willow?

 I generally try to orchestrate my characters by making them opposites. In A Bend In The Willow, Catherine is lying about her past. She has good reason to do so, but her husband, Ben, suspects nothing until after Michael is diagnosed with a chemotherapy-resistant leukemia. Ben is a stickler for honesty. He was five years old when he fled Nazi Germany with his parents. He saw what Hitler’s lies did to his family and friends. Ben values truth above all other virtues. When a writer sets up her characters this way, they are ripe for conflict.

You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

Jodi Picoult is my favorite contemporary author. I love the way she takes an issue and shows both sides. In her novel about the school shooting she did such an amazing job of showing us the shooter that the reader actually understood what drove that tormented boy to commit those heinous crimes.

If you could time-travel would you travel to the future or the past?  Where would you like to go and why would you like to visit this particular time period?

I would go back in time to Concord, Mass and talk with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. We’d get in a rowboat on Walden’s pond and I’d have quite a few questions for the two of them. Maybe we’d invite Emily Dickinson to join us.

Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

We have always had pets. Dogs and cats. When we had our ranch, we had house cats, porch cats, and barn cats. Our most recent cat, a beautiful ragdoll named Topaz, died of congestive heart failure last year, we were devastated. She was only five years old. And my constant companion. We have not gotten over our grief enough to adopt another cat, but I’m sure we will.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us today.
Thank you so much for the interview, Nancy.


Susan Clayton-Goldner was born in New Castle, Delaware and grew up with four brothers along the banks of the Delaware River. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona's Creative Writing Program and has been writing most of her life. Her novels have been finalists for The Hemingway Award, the Heeken Foundation Fellowship, the Writers Foundation and the Publishing On-line Contest. Susan won the National Writers' Association Novel Award twice for unpublished novels and her poetry was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies including Animals as Teachers and Healers, published by Ballantine Books, Our Mothers/Ourselves, by the Greenwood Publishing Group, The Hawaii Pacific Review-Best of a Decade, and New Millennium Writings. A collection of her poems, A Question of Mortality was released in 2014 by Wellstone Press. Prior to writing full time, Susan worked as the Director of Corporate Relations for University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. 

Susan shares a life in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband, Andreas, her fictional characters, and more books than one person could count. 

Author Link: