Fielding, Joy 1945-
Fielding, Joy 1945-
Born March 18, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Leo H. and Anne Tepperman; married Warren Fielding (a lawyer), January 11, 1974; children: Shannon, Anne. Education: University of Toronto, B.A., 1966. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, tennis, swimming, movies, travel, bridge, golf.
Home—Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Palm Beach, FL. Office—Writer's Union of Canada, 24 Ryerson Ave., Toronto, Ontario M5T 2P3, Canada.
Writer. Previously worked as an actress, assistant social worker, substitute teacher, and bank teller.
Book of the Year award, Periodical Distributors of Canada, 1981, for Kiss Mommy Goodbye.
The Best of Friends, Putnam (New York, NY), 1972.
The Transformation, Playboy Press (Chicago, IL), 1976.
Trance, Playboy Press (Chicago, IL), 1977.
Kiss Mommy Goodbye, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
The Other Woman, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.
Life Penalty, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1984.
The Deep End, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1986.
Good Intentions, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.
See Jane Run, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
Tell Me No Secrets, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
Don't Cry Now, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.
Missing Pieces, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1997.
The First Time, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Grand Avenue, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Whispers and Lies, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Lost: A Novel, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Puppet, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Mad River Road, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Heartstopper: A Novel, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Charley's Web: A Novel, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of television plays Drifters and Open House, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC); former book reviewer for Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, and CBC's The Journal and The Radio Show with Jack Faar; contributor of articles and short stories to publications in Canada, the United States, and England.
See Jane Run was made into a television Movie broadcast by the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), 1995.
Bestselling author Joy Fielding writes psychological thrillers that feature women in domestic settings who find their comfortable lives unraveling around them. Fielding makes family trauma her territory as she explores divorce, child abductions, misguided romances, teen rebellion, and the pressures facing working mothers. What separates her challenged heroines from true-life people is the level of terror they ultimately face, sometimes including desperate killers or abusers run amok. Facing perils and overcoming them, Fielding's protagonists have proven immensely popular in the author's native Canada, in the United States, and in Europe. It is estimated that there are well over five million copies of her books in print. In a January Magazine online profile of the author, Linda Richards wrote: "The reality Fielding brings to women through her work comes on several levels. But there is little of Hollywood gloss here. Fielding's characters resonate with life as we've really seen it. A refreshing change in an age of silicone and hair mousse."
Born and raised in Toronto, Fielding showed both writing skills and an active imagination as a youngster. As a child, she wrote and staged plays for her family and tried her hand at short stories even before she had entered middle school. As a teenager her interests turned toward theater, and she appeared in both stage and small-budget film productions while a student at the University of Toronto. After graduating from college in 1966 she moved to Los Angeles and tried to break into movies and television. Although she was able to win a few roles—including a small part in Gunsmoke—Fielding eventually soured on the Southern California lifestyle. "Los Angeles is a lonely town with a value system that is upside down," she said in a Digital Book World interview. "I had started writing, but I wasn't happy, and my mother urged me to come home."
Back in Toronto, Fielding finished writing her first novel, The Best of Friends, at the kitchen table in her parents' home. She submitted the manuscript to five publishers, and two of them accepted it. Putnam released the title in 1972. Less than a decade later, Kiss Mommy Goodbye—a dark tale of child abduction and spousal abuse—became Fielding's first bestseller.
In many of Fielding's novels, the villains are men who seek to manipulate women in ways both large and small. The tension in the plot arises as the female victim seeks to assert herself and overcome the manipulator on behalf of herself and often her children as well. In See Jane Run, for instance, an amnesiac must grapple with her premonitions of danger when a handsome stranger claims to be her husband. Good Intentions features a pair of women dealing with the shock of betrayal by husbands they trusted. And in Missing Pieces, a sensible therapist loses control of her life when her sister falls in love with a serial killer. Digital Book World contributor Beverley Slopen noted that Fielding's books are about "modern American society, the dangers of fragmentation, and the loss of community." According to New York Times Book Review correspondent Deborah Hofmann, Fielding "has a keen ear for the stream-of-consciousness monologues of women with low self-esteem."
Reviewers have cited Fielding for her realistic portraits of fraying marriages, female friendship, and parent-child relationships. To quote a Publishers Weekly reviewer, her work "wins points for honesty and forthrightness, tackling complex issues." In the Library Journal, Molly Gorman suggested that Fielding "conjures up three-dimensional characters with fresh, rapier-like dialog." Booklist correspondent Brad Hooper observed that the author "has carved out a successful niche … as a writer of psychological suspense," because Fielding demonstrates a talent for making her plots "all quite credible."
In Fielding's 2000 thriller, The First Time, part of the realism of the novel came from the author's husband, Warren Fielding, on whom she based her male narrator, Jake Hart. Called "generally affecting if somewhat maudlin" by a Publishers Weekly contributor, The First Time finds Jake's wife Mattie stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease at the same time he is planning to leave her for another woman. "Fielding is good at chronicling the messy tangle of family relationships," which in this novel include childhood abuse, premarital sex, infidelity, and an angst-ridden adolescent to boot, according to the Publishers Weekly critic.
Grand Avenue follows four young women who first meet when they are young mothers living on the same street in a suburb of Cincinnati. Fielding traces their lives over more than twenty years, detailing their varied experiences. Chris has an abusive marriage; Vick enjoys a soaring legal career; Barbara the former beauty queen allows her shallow considerations to blind her to the important qualities in a relationship; and Susan struggles to be a good wife and mother while not putting her own life and career on hold. Fielding adds a suspenseful twist toward the end of the book that sets the characters' lives on end. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly wrote: "With her usual page-turning flair, Fielding churns out a swiftly paced story." Library Journal reviewer Carol J. Bissett dubbed the book "emotionally compelling reading that is hard to put down."
Lost: A Novel revolves around the turbulent relationship between Cindy and her twenty-something daughter, Julia. When Cindy and her husband divorced a decade earlier, Julia chose to live with her father. But when his new wife decides that their house is too cramped, Julia, an aspiring actress, moves back in with her mother. However, their relationship has become no less volatile over the years, and after a particularly loud argument, Julia goes off for an audition and never comes home. What follows is a long and arduous search for Julia, involving police and a media circus, which gives Cindy new insight into her family dynamics, and into her daughter. Samantha J. Gust, in a review for the Library Journal, opined that "although somewhat suspenseful, this latest offering … is marred by unsympathetic and annoying characters." One contributor for Kirkus Reviews concluded the book was "fine work almost to the end, then a bitter disappointment." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Cindy "a likable mixture of brashness, panic and pratfalls, and readers will empathize as she tries to find her daughter and herself."
Mad River Road focuses on two single mothers, Lily and Emma, living in Dayton, Ohio. While Lily dreams of becoming a writer, it is Emma who constantly makes up stories, lying compulsively and often shoplifting as well. The third woman in the book, Jamie, begins a road trip to Ohio from her home in Florida, in an effort to escape her pain over the death of her mother and the ill-advised affair she has been having with a married man. But the man she agrees to travel with is not all that he appears, and Jamie's fate is soon linked to those of Emma and Lily in an unexpected way. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found Fielding's effort to be "packed with breathless twists and turns." Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson praised Fielding for her "pointed commentary on relationships and her imaginative plotting."
Fielding once explained to CA: "I played with cut-out dolls until I was fourteen years old, long past the age my friends played with theirs. That's what I still feel like I'm doing when I'm writing—playing with my cut-outs. Everybody says what I tell them to say, and does what I want them to do, unlike life, which is not so easily constructed."
For Fielding, writing is "the only time in my life when I feel I have complete control," as she explained on her Web site. "Nobody does or says anything I don't tell them to—although even this amount of control is illusory because there comes a point where the characters take over and tell you what they think they should say and do." She added: "I think I'm popular because men as well as women can identify with the people I'm writing about, although I write from a female perspective…. Even if they've never been involved in a particular situation, my readers are familiar with the underlying emotions of the characters. Also, I know how to keep the reader turning the pages, and I think that once they get into the book, they have to keep reading."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 1993, John Mort, review of Tell Me No Secrets, p. 1274; April 15, 1995, Melanie Duncan, review of Don't Cry Now, p. 1452; May 15, 1997, Brad Hooper, review of Missing Pieces, p. 1540; July, 2000, Kristin Kloberdanz, review of The First Time, p. 1973; December 15, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Mad River Road, p. 5.
Chatelaine, June, 1991, Jay Scott, review of See Jane Run, p. 10; October, 1991, Robert Collison, "Joy Fielding," p. 28.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of Lost: A Novel, p. 769.
Library Journal, August, 1997, Molly Gorman, review of Missing Pieces, p. 126; September 15, 2001, Carol J. Bissett, review of Grand Avenue, p. 112; July 1, 2003, Samantha J. Gust, review of Lost, p. 122.
Maclean's, January 17, 1983, Ann Collins, "The Other Woman," p. 51; July 1, 1995, review of Don't Cry Now, p. 69; October 30, 2000, "A Canadian Writer—for Real," p. 59.
New York Times, March 3, 1981, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Kiss Mommy Goodbye, p. C9.
New York Times Book Review, January 28, 1990, Deborah Hofmann, review of Good Intentions, p. 23.
People, July 17, 1995, Louis Ermelino, review of Don't Cry Now, p. 31.
Publishers Weekly, January 24, 1986, review of The Deep End, p. 62; May 26, 1989, review of Good Intentions, p. 54; March 8, 1991, review of See Jane Run, p. 66; April 24, 1995, review of Don'tCry Now, p. 59; June 9, 1997, review of Missing Pieces, p. 35; July 31, 2000, review of The First Time, p. 68; September 3, 2001, review of Grand Avenue, p. 56; August 11, 2003, review of Lost, p. 258; December 12, 2005, review of Mad River Road, p. 40.
Digital Book World,http://www.digitalbookworld.com/ (October 17, 2000), Beverley Slopen, "Profile: Joy Fielding."
January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (October 17, 2000), Linda Richards, "Profile: Joy Fielding. No Missing Pieces."
Joy Fielding Web site,http://www.joyfielding.com (October 17, 2000).