When their hard-drinking but loving father dies in a car accident, teenage brothers Kyle and Klint Hayes face a bleak prospect: leaving their Pennsylvania hometown for an uncertain life in Arizona with the mother who ran out on them years ago. But in a strange twist of fate, their town's matriarch, an eccentric, wealthy old woman whose family once owned the county coal mines, hears the boys' story. Candace Jack doesn't have an ounce of maternal instinct, yet for reasons she does not even understand herself, she is compelled to offer Kyle and Klint a home.
Suddenly, the two boys go from living in a small, run-down house on a gravel road to a stately mansion filled with sumptuous furnishings and beautiful artwork - artwork that's predominantly centered, oddly, on bull fighting. And then there's Miss Jack's real-life bull: Ventisco - a regal, hulking, jet-black beast who roams the land she owns with fiery impudence.
Kyle adjusts more easily to the transition. A budding artist, he finds a kindred spirit in Miss Jack. But local baseball hero Klint refuses to warm up to his new benefactress and instead throws himself into his game with a fierceness that troubles his little brother. Klint is not just grieving his father's death; he's carrying a terrible secret that he has never revealed to anyone. Unbeknownst to the world, Candace Jack has a secret too - a tragic, passionate past in Spain that the boys' presence threatens to reveal as she finds herself caring more for them than she ever believed possible.
From the muted, bruised hills of Pennsylvania coal country to the colorful, flamboyant bull rings of southern Spain, Tawni O'Dell takes us on a riveting journey, not only between two completely different lands, but also between seemingly incompatible souls, casting us under a narrative spell in which characters and places are rendered with fragile tenderness.
©2010 Tawni O'Dell (P)2010 Tantor
“A unique blend of such disparate elements as baseball, bullfighting, and fine art along with O'Dell's multifaceted major and minor characters combine for intriguing vision. Her hard-hitting, well-crafted story packs a wallop.” (Library Journal)
I never know whether to trust reviewers or not, but you can trust that this is an excellent book to listen to in audio form. I am very unhappy that it is over and wish I could find something to enjoy as much as I have this book. All of her books except "Sister" have been page turners. She is a real story teller; don't expect "Crime and Punishment" but she is a good technical writer and never talks down. Her characters have realistic, not-contrived dialogue.You can't go wrong!
This story was so heart wrenching and gripping on so many levels. The emotional investment I made was astronomical. The narration was outstanding. I beg you, please do not pass Fragile Beasts up without giving it a chance! You will refuse to put it down! I am forever indebted to Tawni O'Dell! Her perspective is quite unique and wildly insightful.
I did not like the male narrator. He was good as Louise, but as Kyle he was so annoying I could barely listen to him. The woman narrator was excellent!
The first little bit of the listen seems off, until you get into the story. A great listen that will be good for those who like simpler easy reads (Grisham etc) and those who like a little more "meat" in their books (Richard Russo).
Both narrators are top notch.
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