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The third of Adams's works set in the small town of Jesus Creek, Tenn., this well-intentioned but ultimately unsatisfying Southern gothic focuses on domestic violence. An inexperienced young nanny, Janet Ayres, arrives in Jesus Creek to care for two-month-old Ariel Leach. The Leach household doubles as a safe house for battered women, and Ariel's mother, Sarah Elizabeth, juggles her volunteer work for a domestic violence hotline with a part-time job at the library, university classes and the demands of her razor-tongued mother-in-law--though her husband is mysteriously absent. Jesus Creek is peopled with an assortment of TV sitcom-style eccentrics, including an old codger who is documenting traces of UFO activity and a '60s-era hippy who gets tangled up in her yoga position. Janet comes to realize, though, that something is seriously amiss in the house next door where her new friend, Mary Ann, lives with her young son and seemingly devoted husband. Mary Ann's fate is entirely predictable, and readers will have no difficulty guessing the depressing climax. The story is told from Janet's perspective and as the nanny tends to both a pretentious vocabulary and an uptight attitude, the narrative suffers. Adams superficially chronicles several other cases of domestic violence, using the volunteer hotline as a device for introducing them into the story, but the reader learns too little about these women or their children to care much about their troubles. Domestic violence is a serious and frighteningly common problem, and this disappointing novel does not do justice to its important theme.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"...a quietly powerful case study which shows us just how easy it is for battering, whether emotional or physical, to occur right before our very eyes. Adams'' blend of humor and suspense strikes just he right note; never didactic, but educating while entertaining." -- Dean James, co-author of By A Woman's Hand
"A series rich in provocative themes and artful plots." -- Joan Hess, author of the Maggody series
"Adams' books perfectly capture the rhythms of life in a small town, where everyone sees it as a God-given right to know everybody else's business." -- The Baltimore Sun
"It takes a very daring writer to approach the sad and terrible subject of domestic violence with a touch of humor. Ms. Adams does it, and makes it work." -- Chico's Mystery Newsletter