Barnard, Judith 1932- (Judith Michael, a joint pseudonym, Judith Barnard Papier)
Barnard, Judith 1932- (Judith Michael, a joint pseudonym, Judith Barnard Papier)
Born February 17, 1932, in Denver, CO; daughter of Harry (a biographer) and Ruth Barnard; married Jerre Papier (an electronics engineer), December 20, 1953 (marriage ended); married Michael Fain (a writer), 1979; children: (first marriage) Cynthia, Andrew. Education: Attended Antioch College, 1949-50; Ohio State University, B.A., 1953; Northwestern University, M.F.A., 1962. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Reading biography, history, and studies of society; rug making, cooking, sewing, and political activity.
Home—Chicago, IL, and Aspen, CO.
Writer. Worked as reporter and critic. Wilmette Community Concert Association, Wilmette, IL, vice-president, 1964-67.
Award of Excellence from Friends of American Literature, for The Past and Present of Solomon Sorge.
AS JUDITH BARNARD PAPIER
(Coauthor) Beyond the Americas (series), Scott, Foresman (Chicago, IL), 1962-63.
The Past and Present of Solomon Sorge, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1967.
ROMANCE NOVELS, UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM JUDITH MICHAEL
Deceptions, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1982.
Possessions, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1984.
Private Affairs, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1986.
Inheritance, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1988.
A Ruling Passion, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Sleeping Beauty, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1991.
Pot of Gold, Poseidon Press (New York, NY), 1993.
A Tangled Web, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Acts of Love, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1997.
A Certain Smile, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1999.
The Real Mother, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of textbooks and scripts for education films. Contributor to periodicals, including Redbook.
A Tangled Web was adapted for audio, 1994; Pot of Gold was adapted for audio, 1994; A Certain Smile was adapted for audio, Brilliance Audio, 1999; The Real Mother was adapted for audio, Morrow/HarperCollins, 2005.
Under the joint pseudonym Judith Michael, Judith Barnard collaborates with her husband Michael Fain on romance novels that have earned considerable success. Prior to collaborating with Fain, Barnard wrote The Past and Present of Solomon Sorge, a novel, published in 1967, which won the Award of Excellence from the Friends of American Literature. The couple, however, began their literary partnership in 1979 by producing articles on marriage and family life for various periodicals. Recognizing a creative spark while working together, Barnard and Fain decided to attempt a book. The resulting romance novel, 1982's Deceptions, marked the introduction of Judith Michael to the literary world.
Deceptions is the story of Sabrina and Stephanie, identical twin sisters living on different continents. Sabrina is the widow of an English lord and a prominent antique dealer in London, and Stephanie is a dowdy homemaker living with her family in Evanston, Illinois. Both of the women are bored with their lives and, in a flash of inspiration, decide to exchange lives. Stephanie goes off to England to apply her homespun logic to British high society, while Sabrina brings a touch of elegance to the drab suburbs of Evanston. The switch provides vicarious thrills for the sisters, but when Stephanie decides its time to return to her normal life, she finds that Sabrina is unwilling to leave her homemaker identity. Upon publication in 1982, Deceptions, which Cathleen Schine described in the New York Times Book Review as "ingenious" and "a shrewd package," reaped substantial rewards for Barnard and Fain, and their career as joint novelists was underway.
In 1984 Barnard and Fain produced Possessions, a novel about a Vancouver, British Columbia, homemaker, Katherine, who discovers that her missing husband has concealed his past as a member of a wealthy San Francisco, California, family. Compelled to support herself and her children, Katherine obtains a low-level job in San Francisco. It is not long, however, before she becomes involved with her husband's estranged relatives. The family is kind to Katherine and fosters her career, but a conflict arises when Katherine finds herself courted by two of her husband's dashing cousins. She is faced with the dilemma of remaining faithful to her questionable husband or giving in to the temptations of a new life and new loves. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Possessions "consistently interesting," stating that the novel is "unburdened of melodrama or undue gimmickry."
Like Deceptions, Possessions found great favor with the book-buying public, and in the ensuing years the authors continued to produce works of similar success under the Judith Michael pseudonym. In 1986 they published Private Affairs, in which a staid couple suffer financial setbacks, then reap riches only to find themselves growing apart; and in 1988 Barnard and Fain completed Inheritance, a novel in which a sibling team's plan to burglarize a wealthy hotel are undone when the sister befriends the hotel's owner. Sheila Paulos, in her assessment for the New York Times Book Review, proclaimed Inheritance "the perfect rainy-day read."
A Ruling Passion, the next Judith Michael publication, concerns two women whose longtime acquaintance is one of resentment and bitter rivalry. One woman, Valerie, hails from wealth, but she eventually loses her fortune amid mysterious circumstances. She sets out to rebuild her life, determined to become a successful investigative journalist. The other woman, Sybille, comes from an impoverished background but manages, through scheming and sexual exploitation, to become a top television producer. Trouble ensues when Valerie, who works at a television station owned by her rival's ex-husband, uncovers corruption related to a religious series developed by Sybille.
In Sleeping Beauty, Barnard and Fain's 1991 book, a family's sordid past threatens to undo a prosperous young woman's life. As an adolescent, Anne had regularly been the victim of sexual abuse from her Uncle Vince, a wealthy businessman. When she exposes Vince's actions to other family members, she is met with disbelief. Anne runs away, but as it turns out, her grandfather believed her story and stripped Vince of his standing in the family. Many years later, Anne has become a successful divorce attorney and, despite the emotional disturbances incurred by her past, is developing a personal relationship with an archaeologist. Vince, meanwhile, has become a U.S. senator with designs on the presidency. He plots Anne's murder to ensure that she does not expose his past as a child molester.
With the 1993 title, Pot of Gold, the husband and wife writing team tell a "wry tale of the moral slide of a lottery winner," according to Booklist contributor Candace Smith, and with 1994's A Tangled Web, Barnard and Fain return to the characters they developed in their first collaborative work, Deceptions. Further complications arise for the twins in this sequel. With Stephanie's death in a yachting accident in England reported at the conclusion of the first novel, Sabrina, in Evanston, Illinois, has become firmly ensconced in her role of suburban homemaker to the professor-husband of her sister. Meanwhile, however, Stephanie, very much alive, is recovering her memory in a small French village. Denise Perry Donavin, writing in Booklist, praised the writing in this web of a tale, noting that the "suspense … is tightly drawn." A Publishers Weekly critic, however, was less impressed with this work, noting that it was "far less involving than its predecessor," in part because of what the reviewer called a "wearisome plot."
Acts of Love, from 1997, features successful theater director Lucas Cameron, who, in the course of putting his deceased grandmother's estate in order, discovers a series of letters to her from a young actress who gave up her career after suffering injuries in a train accident. Now this woman, Jessica Fontaine, leads a secluded life on an island in Washington's Puget Sound. Lucas is taken with the letters and decides to track down Jessica and learn why she has hidden away from the world. Writing in Library Journal, Margaret Ann Hanes commended this novel as a "gently felt story with a surprising amount of suspense." Hanes further observed that the work was a "a thought-provoking character study." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly though, had a more critical view of the same work, calling it an "emotional if long-winded romance."
With their 1999 title, A Certain Smile, Barnard and Fain take readers to China and a bicultural love affair. Successful fashion designer Miranda Graham is in Beijing on business and is befriended by the half-American businessman Yuan Li. The two form a bond, despite the prying eyes of government officials and the negative comments of Li's son. For Booklist contributor Melanie Duncan, this was a "sensuous and enrapturing tale," while for a Publishers Weekly reviewer it was "tasty if unoriginal chop suey." The same contributor, however, felt that the "sense of being an American in a foreign culture is nicely conveyed." Similarly, Hanes, writing in Library Journal, termed A Certain Smile "an appealing tale of two very different people who find soulmates in each other."
After a writing hiatus, Barnard and Fain returned with the 2005 novel, The Real Mother, the tale of a young female medical student who must quit her studies to help out at home. With her mother recovering from a stroke, her father dead, her step-father long since departed, and older brother Mack suddenly going missing, Sara must leave school to help raise younger half-siblings. She takes work as a house-seeker for the wealthy, and her life becomes complicated not only by a mysterious client, but also by the return of her brother. Hanes, once again writing in Library Journal, felt that readers would be disappointed with this first effort in six years: "Weak characters along with sappy dialog won't entertain for long." Similar sentiments came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who found the book "formulaic" and a "middle-America melodrama." A Kirkus Reviews critic was also unimpressed with the novel, complaining of "podgy prose, bland characters, [and a] dated story." Booklist contributor Patty Engelmann, however, had a higher assessment of The Real Mother. Despite finding it "a bit lackluster," Engelmann allowed: "There is enough conflict, glamour, and intrigue to keep … fans happy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1994, Candice Smith, review of Pot of Gold (audiobook), p. 1965; August, 1994, Denise Perry Donavin, review of A Tangled Web, p. 1989; December 1, 1996, June Vigor, review of Acts of Love, p. 620; February 15, 1999, Melanie Duncan, review of A Certain Smile, p. 1004; February 15, 2000, Mary McCay, review of A Certain Smile (audiobook), p. 1128; November 15, 2004, Patty Engelmann, review of The Real Mother, p. 532.
Chicago, November, 1994, review of A Tangled Web, p. 41.
Kirkus Reviews, April, 1984, review of Possessions; January 1, 2005, review of The Real Mother (audiobook), p. 14.
Library Journal, January, 1997, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Acts of Love, p. 148; April 15, 1999, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of A Certain Smile, p. 145; February 1, 2005, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of The Real Mother, p. 69.
New York Times Book Review, May 16, 1982, Cathleen Schine, review of Deceptions; March 2, 1986, review of Private Affairs; May 15, 1988, Sheila Paulos, review of Inheritance.
Publishers Weekly, March 30, 1984, review of Possessions; April 8, 1988, review of Inheritance; November 14, 1994, review of A Tangled Web, p. 9; October 3, 1995, review of A Tangled Web, p. 52; January 6, 1997, review of Acts of Love, p. 62; April 5, 1999, review of A Certain Smile, p. 219; January 10, 2005, review of The Real Mother, p. 37.
West Coast Review of Books, May, 1982, review of Deceptions.