Cook, Lorna J. 1962(?)-
COOK, Lorna J. 1962(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1962, in MI.
ADDRESSES: Home—Holland, MI. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Departures, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Home away from Home, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Lorna J. Cook's first novel, Departures, tells the story of the VanderZee family, residents of Michigan. The parents, Malcolm and Esme, married when their college romance resulted in pregnancy. Esme, who had artistic ambitions, becomes a homemaker and mother to four children while Malcolm works as a professor. Although the parents have tried to provide them with everything, the young VanderZees are all troubled by feelings of dissatisfaction with their suburban existence. The eldest, Suzan, is seventeen and preoccupied with Romantic literature. The literary works of the Brontë sisters and Thomas Hardy are more meaningful to her than her own family, it seems. She views her father as mediocre and her mother as a probable adulteress. Her brother, fifteen-year-old Evan, is devoted to foreign films and enthralled by a worldly girl from New York City, who urges him to run off to Chicago with her. Even the younger children are not carefree; Hallie, aged nine, debates philosophical points with her pet rat, and Aimee, the five year old, had a near-death experience following an automobile accident and keeps trying to recreate the feelings. Cook provides "an interesting glimpse at mediocrity," according to MBR Bookwatch writer Harriet Klausner. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the subject matter is standard melodramatic family fiction, but added: "Cook electrifies her material with unusually forceful writing and a perceptive knack for illustrating the self-indulgence of adolescents and their flighty yet powerful interior dramas."
Cook's second novel, Home away from Home, is again set in Michigan. Her subject this time is overwhelming grief, as she charts a woman's emotional course following her husband's death. The protagonist, Anna Rainey, finds herself unwilling to stay in her home after her husband's death. She finds countless little things to feel guilty about, such as not having fixed the garage door, which delayed her slightly when she was rushing to the hospital with her dying husband. She even thinks she sees his ghost. Accordingly, Anna moves from one lodging to the next, staying with friends, in small apartments, and other situations, always keeping her life very simple. "Cook paints a lucid and realistic portrait of loss," stated Lisa Bankoff in Publishers Weekly. Andrea Tarr, a contributor to Library Journal, noted that Cook avoided the pitfalls of possibly writing "a maudlin, morbid story" and, thanks to the strength of her character, instead produces a "small, poignant gem of a novel" full of "insight and humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2003, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Departures, p. 725; January 1, 2005, review of Departures, p. 771.
Entertainment Weekly, Kate Ashford, review of Departures, p. 101.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2003, review of Departures, p. 1326; November 1, 2004, review of Home away from Home, p. 1022.
Kliatt, March, 2005, Nola Theiss, review of Departures, p. 17.
Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Andrea Tarr, review of Home away from Home, p. 98.
MBR Bookwatch, March, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Departures.
Publishers Weekly, Lisa Bankoff, review of Home away from Home, p. 36.
Bookreporter, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (May 12, 2005), Sarah Rachel Egelman, review of Departures.