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Mourning Dove

Narrated by: Claire Fullerton
Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"An accurate and heart-wrenching picture of the sensibilities of the American South." (Kirkus Book Reviews)

The heart has a home when it has an ally. If Millie Crossan doesn't know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, 18 months her senior, becomes Millie's guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie's 10th birthday. 

Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother's upbringing and vastly different from anything they've ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn't gold.

Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley's world, as they find their way to belonging. But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?

©2018 Claire Fullerton (P)2018 Claire Fullerton

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Profoundly moving

I loved listening to this beautiful bittersweet story of two siblings growing up in Memphis. The author reads her own words with simple elegance and clarity. I’m profoundly moved by this tragic and inspiring story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Southern charmer!

Loved this book, from the minute I began reading I was transported to a southern world of charm, sophistication, tradition, beauty and denial. The author wrote in such detail that I felt like I was right there experiencing the events that the characters were. Loved the book! Didn’t want it to end..

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic!!!

I just finished Mourning Dove and felt compelled to write a review. This book was beautifully written and narrated! It reminds me of the books of Pat Conroy; the author writes with a lyrical prose and tells a deeply poignant story. This is a must read for those who wish to have their heartstrings played upon!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Ambiguities of Life

Review Title: Ambiguities of Life (Review of Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton)

Reviewer:  Janice Garey

***** 5 Stars

This novel is stunning. When you think it couldn't possibly be more brilliant and shed more light, you find another facet being presented for the reader's delight and mouth-dropping awe.

First, the in-depth study of a place and time, Memphis in the 70s, rings with truth like lead crystal tested for its superior sound. The class structure and strict rules of etiquette distinguish those who know how "to do" from the rest. The pairings of people who are in the know with those on the fringe of knowing make for fascinating contrasts within the larger society.

The novel shows the devastation that addiction perpetrates on families. In particular, it portrays the way children suffer when a parent succumbs to alcoholism. The love for the parent remains along with the dreams of what could have been. Some in the family deal with the disappointment with denial while others allow the loss to penetrate and change their basic view of life. The book delivers an accurate portrayal that a percentage of people will become alcoholics when drinks flow freely every day. This is not shown in a judgmental way toward those who chose to indulge in social drinking.

Readers with a solid music background will appreciate that the novel goes into the rock band/concert/recording business arena. The motivation and drive of a musician who gives his whole heart to the creativity and management of a group of musicians is examined. Then the book explores the grandeur of loss when a band dissolves. What does a creative do when their dreams die? In this novel, the pursuit of a new direction leads on a journey of self destruction through charismatic leadership of followers into a cult-like religion.

The story narrator, Millie, starts out as a mere shadow of her older brother Findley. She seeks his opinion to know her own. Eventually they part ways because of his increasing fascination with a pieced together religion. He who has been her strength in troubled times relies on rigidness to counter any weakness. Millie is more flexible in her thinking as to how she must navigate life after loss. She finds new strength in returning to her roots established before their father became an alcoholic and lost his ability to be an encouraging influence on his children. Her brother tries to move forward on the false platform of a god of his own making. In the end it seems that the strong has become weak and the weak has become strong. The ambiguities of life require navigation with flexibility, tenacity,  and a keen eye to observe what has lead to stability for other people.

The book appears similar to a waltz between utopia (the setting) and dystopia (the interior mind world of the characters). It's awkward yet beautiful to see how everyone elegantly or not so elegantly fumbles through the beautiful world of Memphis high society. The reader will not want the dance to end, although like all good things, it must.

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this on Audible during our commutes to work and back home. The author perfectly narrates the book. We have already selected another Audible book by Claire Fullerton to listen to based on how much we liked this one.

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Compelling semi-autobiographical fiction

This book is a compelling tale of a slice of southern culture - and is compelling as it is loosely based on real people and real circumstances. The author’s performance of such personal material invites the listener to experience a fully realized interpretation of her work. A book worthy of one’s time for the listening.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Trip down memory lane

This is the story of two siblings, about their relationship throughout the years, from their childhood until a tragedy happens in the family. The reader is aware of this 'tragedy', and all events in the book lead inexorably to this end. The story is narrated in the first person by Millie, the youngest of the two siblings, but the main character is Finley, her brother. Millie is just a spectator in the whole story, where Finley is larger than life, and Millie is attracted to him like a moth to a flame. But Finley is intense like this flame, and due to a difficult childhood, several dramas, and a complex personality, Finley changes in a way that nobody could have predicted.

This is a very beautifully written book, with a rich language, complex sentences, and very vivid descriptions, not only of about what Millie sees but also about what she feels. The characters are very well depicted, and I was even able to see them with my mind's eye. They were all quite picturesque and unique. Contrary to what one could expect, Millie's character feels quite 'empty' and flat. She is a simple observer of the family dramas, and it seems all events in her life just happen because she was there, not because she had any intent at any time. This could bother some people, but I'm sure it was done on purpose by Fullerton. We have, one one hand, a very intense character, and on the other, a narrator and observer, but without a real life of her own.

The book is a success of events happening to the family, and especially Finley, who evolves and changes throughout the book. There are also things happening to Millie, but they seem to take, not a second, but even a third plane on the story, and it feels kind of sad how very serious episodes are narrated in the first person but just skimming the surface.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I agree it's not for everyone. Some people would think that why all the long story, just to arrive at something that was hinted at the beginning of the book. There is no action or fireworks because this is a clear example where the journey is more important than the destination.

Claire Fullerton decided to narrate the book herself, and for somebody who doesn't make a living out of narrating books, she did a very decent job. I rejoiced on her Southern droll and character's interpretations and the way she had to enunciate the elaborate sentences in the book. It really felt like a trip down memory lane that other narrators would not have mastered in the same way. But there were a couple of setbacks too. From time to time there were some background noises that were a bit distracting, and the continuous mouth noises and breathing almost made me desist when I first started the book. I plowed through and I'm glad I did because it was a really good book that will be with me for a long time.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Claire Fullerton. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Southern Family Saga

Mourning Dove is a compelling Southern family tale that, by turns, had me smile, tear up, laugh out loud, even get irritated with certain characters’ inflexibility, especially Posey and her husband, the Colonel, step-father to Millie and Finley. If things didn’t go exactly the way they expected, there would be hell to pay and life was frequently uncomfortable for the children.

As Millie and Finley grew up, they learned not only how to live with the rules of the household but also found their own way. The two are devoted to each other whether together or apart and they truly depend on each other through all the joys and despair of life. Still, family and friends are caught very much by surprise when a terrible thing happens even though they knew a darkness was brewing.

A couple of things pulled me out of the story occasionally. I’m a born and bred Southerner and some of the author’s pronunciations were different from mine; for instance, she would say “in-TRIC-a-cies” while I say “IN-tric-a-cies” and “de-COR-ous” while I say “DEC-or-ous”. Also, as a Mary Baldwin alumna, I know that it did not change its designation to University from College until 2016, many years after the time period of this story. I also have never heard of the bride’s family being responsible for hosting the wedding rehearsal dinner, especially back then. All that aside, I really did enjoy hearing about places, mannerisms and Southern culture so similar to my own upbringing. Although I managed to talk my parents out of doing the whole debutante thing, I did spend several years in cotillion 😉

I don’t always think an author narrating her own book is a good idea but Ms. Fullerton does bring the characters and the ambience to life, especially because Millie is telling the story. This is a deeply thoughtful look at the South of the 70’s and 80’s and is a true evocation of a time and place that was quite unique. Well done!

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Coming-of-age Historical Southern Fiction

MOURNING DOVE is a work of Historical Fiction set in the American South. The version I read was an Audiobook narrated by the author.

Mourning Dove by Claire Fullerton is a family saga. The book starts in the 1960s and follows the lives of Posey and her two children, Millie and Finley.

Posey grew up in Memphis, but left the South and lived in Minnesota. Returning to her childhood home is easy for Posey. She grew up immersed in the strange (at least it is strange if you did not grow up there) customs and lingo of Memphis. For her, it is like putting on a favorite dress that is pure comfort.

However, Millie and Finley do not fit in immediately. They find all the obscure social customs and rules bewildering at first. The children learn by watching their mother, but never really feel at home.

MOURNING DOVE draws the reader (or listener in my case) into a world of old, moneyed families during a time in American history when those things were considered of upmost importance to the elite of Memphis society.

The descriptions are exceedingly well written and readers are able to picture the time and place easily in their minds.

The author shows that no matter how much money or social status a family has, it will not insulate them completely from tragedy and misfortune.

I particularly liked the fact that the author did not shy away from the truth of the racism that was so abundant during the timeframe of this story.

This book is a coming-of-age story not only for the characters, but also for the nation. Anyone interested in Historic and/or Southern Fiction will enjoy this audiobook.

The narrator has the perfect accent for this audiobook and I give her full credit for increasing my enjoyment of this novel.

I rate MOURNING DOVE as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Claire Fullerton. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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  • 09-21-18

A Slice of Family Life!

This Audiobook is told from the point of view of Millie who grew up in sixties and seventies American south. Millie and her brother spent their early life in Minnesota until their alcoholic father caused there parents to separate. So suddenly they find themselves in Memphis where they their mother finds herself back home at 79 Kensington Park. Millie and Finley slowly learn to navigate this strange new world. Finley can’t wait to get a way and pursue his musical career. Millie always relied on Finley to make her life more bearable.
Especially when have to learn to live with their Stepfather who wants to control everything that goes on the house. This is slice family life and how every changes as we become adults. This is a compelling account of sister, daughter and wife’s changing relationship with her brother Finley. I far as was concerned the narrator is Millie recounting  her from childhood until today. As I’m English this is a wonderful window into the up and downs of  Millie’s life in the American South.