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Gaffney, Patricia 1944–

Gaffney, Patricia 1944–

PERSONAL:

Born 1944, in Tampa, FL; daughter of Jim (a lawyer) and Joem (a homemaker) Gaffney; married. Ethnicity: "Irish American." Education: Marymount College, B.A.; studied at Royal Holloway College, London and George Washington University; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, M.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—PA.

CAREER:

Novelist. English teacher, East Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte, NC; worked variously as a freelance photographer and court reporter.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award, 1989, for Sweet Treason; RITA award finalist, Romance Writers of America, for Fortune's Lady; Best English Historical Romance award nomination, Romantic Times, for Lily; Best Victorian Historical Romance award nomination, Romantic Times, for Another Eden.

WRITINGS:

Sweet Treason, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.

Fortune's Lady, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1989.

Thief of Hearts, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1990.

Lily, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1991.

Another Eden, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1992.

Sweet Everlasting, Topaz (New York, NY), 1993.

Crooked Hearts, Topaz (New York, NY), 1994.

To Love and to Cherish (first novel in "Wyckerley" trilogy), Topaz Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.

To Have and to Hold (second novel in "Wyckerley" trilogy), Topaz Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.

Forever and Ever (second novel in "Wyckerley" trilogy), Topaz Publishing (New York, NY), 1996.

Outlaw in Paradise, Wheeler Publishing (Rockland, MA), 1997.

Wild at Heart, Topaz Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.

The Saving Graces, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1999.

Circle of Three, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Flight Lessons, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

The Goodbye Summer, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Mad Dash, Shaye Areheart Books (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Patricia Gaffney grew up in the Washington, DC, area. Her father was a government lawyer, and upon graduating from college, Gaffney thought she might enjoy being a court reporter. The job had just the right amount of passivity, a quality that suited her personality. She could sit around and record what was happening in other people's lives. However, the writing she was required to do was very disciplined. There was no room for creativity. In 1984, after discovering a lump in her breast and convinced that she did not have much time left to live, she asked herself what she most wanted to do with the rest of her life. In response to this question, she convinced her husband to move with her to a quiet country house, where she could do what she loves to do most: write fiction.

Gaffney's first five books were written in the romance genre. The first one, 1989's Sweet Treason, is about a young Scottish woman who becomes intrigued by her enemy and captor, an English officer. Though some of Gaffney's fans claim that this is not her best work, the book did win Gaffney the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award for best new work. That same year, Gaffney also wrote Fortune's Lady, another story with espionage as a major theme. This time the response to the novel was more positive: Gaffney's confidence with the genre began to take shape, and her characters were more fully fleshed out and crisp. Gaffney also created a strong sexual tension that critics and readers enjoyed. Fortune's Lady was a finalist for the Rita Award.

1990's Thief of Hearts, according to some critics, set an example of what a good romance novel is all about. Rounding up the first set of novels is the dark Gothic tale, Lily, which was nominated as best English historical romance by Romantic Times; Another Eden, a tale set in New York during the 1890s, also was nominated for an award, this time the best Victorian historical romance by Romantic Times.

In 1993 Gaffney changed publishers. She wrote another series of romance books for Penguin USA, including the "Wyckerley" trilogy of To Love and to Cherish, To Have and to Hold, and Forever and Ever. These novels are set in Victorian England, and the first follows the sad details of Anne Verlaine as she suffers through a bad marriage. The heroine of the second is Rachel, who has been imprisoned for ten years for the murder of her husband. She is not given the death sentence because some of her husband's cruelties become known. She must, however, find a patron after she is released from jail. Thus enters her potential lover. The third novel in the set revolves around the lives of Sophie and Connor, through which Gaffney discusses the social issues women in the Victorian era had to face. This is a "touching story," wrote a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, which ends "with love winning over pride and ambition."

After completing this series, Gaffney began to feel restless about the romance theme. She wanted to continue writing fiction, but she wanted it to relate more to her own life. Toward this end, Gaffney wrote 1999's The Saving Graces, a book that enjoyed a stay on the New York Times best-seller list. This is a story very close to home for Gaffney, as she tells of the trials of four women, all battling cancer. Gaffney herself has belonged to such a group for several years, and one of the women in her group died. The Saving Graces tells the story of that experience. Summing up the novel, Gaffney calls it a story about love, friendship, trust, and commitment among women. In a review posted on the Romance Reader Web site, a writer commented that The Saving Graces is also part comedy, "one of those rare novels that can make a reader grin while being slowly twisted into knots inside." A Publishers Weekly reviewer described it as "a variation on the theme of women's solidarity and bravery."

Gaffney explores the relationship between mother and daughter in her novel Circle of Three. The story actually involves three generations: daughter, mother, and grandmother. The matriarch of the trio, Dana, is modeled on the author's own mother, Gaffney reported in an interview posted on the Web site Crescent Blues, especially in terms of "her southernness, her bluntness, her absolute certainty she knows what's best for her daughter—well, for everybody—and her constant and unconditional love." In Circle of Three, Gaffney has each of the three female protagonists take turns telling her story in alternating chapters, which Patty Englemann, writing for Booklist, found "added dimension to this poignant story of growing up and growing old."

The main protagonist in 2002's Flight Lessons is Anna Catalano, a thirty-something woman who returns home for a short spell to mend her relationship with her Aunt Rose, who runs the family restaurant. Although the women in this story are a niece and aunt, Gaffney admits it really is a mother-daughter relationship in disguise; the core story is about two women who really love one another but must fight their way through a lot of emotional baggage in order to renew their relationship. In an interview posted on the HarperCollins Web site, Gaffney stated: "Anna has to learn to forgive Rose for an ancient betrayal; Rose has to learn to forgive Anna for being self-righteous, intolerant, and pretty much a blockhead."

The Goodbye Summer concerns thirty-two-year-old music teacher Caddie Winger, whose life is thrown into tumult when her grandmother, with whom she contentedly lives, must move into a convalescent home after breaking her leg. As Caddie adjusts to her new independence, which includes a tentative romance with the sexy head of the Creative Animal Therapy School, grandmother Francis experiences changes as well. Though Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley considered the novel fairly predictable, she enjoyed the relationship between Caddie and Christopher, concluding that "by the end, the reader is thoroughly drawn into Caddie's world."

Gaffney tells the story of a twenty-year married relationship in Mad Dash. The novel begins as Dash Bateman, frustrated with her history professor husband Andrew's unbearable stuffiness, decamps with the family dog to the Bateman lakeside cottage. So absorbed is Andrew in the petty politics of his job, however, that he barely notices his wife's absence. Complicating matters is that the catalyst for Andrew's possible promotion is Elizabeth, a Machiavellian temptress who wants him to support a right-winger in the department. While Andrew copes with these developments, Dash, a photographer, enjoys the natural setting of the cottage and embarks on a friendship with Owen, son of the handyman she employs. Observing that the novel is not particularly strong on plot, Booklist writer Carolyn Kubisz enjoyed the book's tender and comic look at the bonds that hold marriages together.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, April 15, 1999, Nancy Pearl, review of The Saving Graces, p. 1452; May 15, 2000, Patty Engelmann, review of Circle of Three, p. 1700; January 1, 2002, Whitney Scott, review of Circle of Three, p. 987; April 1, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of The Goodbye Summer, p. 1330; June 1, 2007, Carolyn Kubisz, review of Mad Dash, p. 38.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of Mad Dash.

Library Journal, August, 1997, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Outlaw in Paradise, p. 66; April 15, 1999, Jodi L. Israel, review of The Saving Graces, p. 143; June 1, 2000, Jodi L. Israel, review of Circle of Three, p. 196; June 1, 2007, Bette-Lee Fox, review of Mad Dash, p. 109.

Publishers Weekly, September 15, 1989, review of Fortune's Lady, p. 114; June 21, 1993, review of Sweet Everlasting, p. 99; March 7, 1994, review of Crooked Hearts, p. 66; July 24, 1995, review of To Have and to Hold, p. 58; March 11, 1996, review of Forever and Ever, p. 57; June 30, 1997, review of Outlaw in Paradise, p. 74; May 24, 1999, review of The Saving Graces, p. 63; August 2, 1999, Judy Quinn, "Amazing ‘Grace’," p. 20; May 29, 2000, review of Circle of Three, p. 51; April 19, 2004, review of The Goodbye Summer, p. 40; May 7, 2007, review of Mad Dash, p. 39.

Reviewer's Bookwatch, August 1, 2004, Terry Mathews, review of The Goodbye Summer.

ONLINE

BookLoons, http://www.bookloons.com/ (May 22, 2008), Melissa Parcel, review of The Goodbye Summer.

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (May 22, 2008), Marie Hashima Lofton, review of The Goodbye Summer; Jennifer McCord, review of Mad Dash.

Crescent Blues, http://www.crescentblues.com/ (May 22, 2008), "Patricia Gaffney: Swimming in the Mainstream," interview.

HarperCollins Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com/ (May 22, 2008), interview with Gaffney.

Patricia Gaffney Home Page, http://www.patriciagaffney.com (May 22, 2008).

Romance Reader, http://www.theromancereader.com/ (May 22, 2008), Cathy Sova, review of The Saving Graces; Linda Mowery, review of Circle of Three; Susan Scribner, reviews of The Goodbye Summer and Mad Dash.

Romantic Times Online, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (May 22, 2008), Sheri Melnick, review of The Goodbye Summer; Hilary Daninhirsch, review of Mad Dash.

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