Henry, Patti Callahan
Henry, Patti Callahan
Born in NJ; married; three children. Education: Attended Auburn University; earned master's degree.
Home—GA. Agent—Kimberly Whalen, Trident Media Group, 41 Madison Ave., 36th Fl., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—
Writer. Has worked as clinical nurse specialist.
Losing the Moon, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2004.
Where the River Runs, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2005.
When Light Breaks, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2006.
Between the Tides, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2007.
The Art of Keeping Secrets, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2008.
Driftwood Summer, NAL Accent (New York, NY), 2009.
Novelist Patti Callahan Henry worked as a nurse for several years before pursuing her longtime ambition to be a professional author. "My daughter is the one who reminded me I wanted to write novels," Henry remarked in an interview published on her Web site. "When she was six years old she told me she wanted to be a writer of books and this spurned me on to my original childhood dream." Henry, who had grown up as a self-described "book-worm" and written a memoir at the age of twelve, said she "finally understood that writing is all I've ever really wanted to do."
Her novels explore women's lives and relationships, and they are often set in the southern United States. They also frequently depict characters haunted by the past. In an interview for BookPage, Henry told Barbara Samuel: "I'm intrigued as a storyteller about the unlived life, the road not taken, the secret not told. … These are the things that have me returning to the page again and again."
Henry's first novel, Losing the Moon, deals with the rekindling of an old passion. Onetime lovers Amy Reynolds and Nick Lowry, both married to others, meet for the first time in many years when her son becomes involved with his daughter. Nick and Amy begin working together on a historic preservation project and find they still care deeply for each other. Booklist reviewer Shelley Mosley called the book a "beautifully written debut romance," marked by "poetic descriptions and settings." Henry followed this with Where the River Runs, which focuses on an affluent wife and mother, Meridy McFadden Dresden, confronting a long-buried secret that could have grave implications for her life. Mosley, again critiquing for Booklist, praised this effort as well, noting that "the sheer lyricism of the author's voice transports the reader."
When Light Breaks is another novel featuring an encounter between past lovers. Young South Carolinian Kara Larson, who is about to marry a pro golfer, is fascinated by an elderly acquaintance's story of lost love. Then circumstances bring Kara together with an old beau, Jack Sullivan, and she grapples with unresolved feelings for him. This tale brought Henry more critical praise, with Romantic Times Online contributor Debra LiCausi describing it as "powerful" and "inspiring." LiCausi added that Henry has presented three-dimensional characters against a "vivid and symbolic" background. Booklist commentator Mosley also complimented the book, deeming it a "beautiful novel of discovery and self-acceptance."
Between the Tides has Catherine "Cappy" Leary, a public relations officer for a university, returning to her hometown in the South Carolina Low Country to scatter her father's ashes. When she was growing up there, Catherine's life was marred by the drowning of a family friend's young child; Catherine blamed herself for this tragedy. She is reunited with the child's mother and begins to come to terms with her feelings of guilt. She also develops an attraction to Forrest Anderson, a friend and colleague of her father's, while becoming disillusioned with her relationship with a coach at her university. In addition, she discovers secrets about her father.
Some reviewers thought the book an eloquent presentation of Catherine's emotional recovery. Readers "will find empathy and healing in the pages of this poignant novel," observed Cindy Crosby in a piece for Bookreporter. com. She added that "lovely, competent writing permeates the pages" and summed up the effort as "a thoughtful, well-written story." Romantic Times Online commentator Sheri Melnick likewise offered praise, calling Between the Tides "beautifully rendered and lyrically written."
The Art of Keeping Secrets, also set in the Low Country, centers on a middle-aged widow, Annabelle Murphy, who is shocked to discover evidence that her husband, Knox, had been having an extramarital affair: an unidentified woman's body is found along with his in the wreckage of his private plane. Seeking information about the woman, Annabelle meets and befriends a young research scientist, Sofie Milstead, who has many painful, hidden episodes in her past and has sought comfort in her work with dolphins. Together Annabelle and Sofie uncover the truth about their intertwined lives and their loved ones.
Several critics deemed this a compelling story of love, friendship, and facing reality. Terry Miller Shannon, reviewing for Bookreporter.com, pronounced it "a poignant exploration of the very nature of faith and love," featuring "an intriguing mystery" and "multilayered" characters. Henry also captures "the wonder of their seaside surroundings," Shannon remarked. In her article for BookPage, Barbara Samuel described the novel as "a delicately wrought exploration" of Annabelle and Sofie's relationship that also includes "some beautiful scenes connected to dolphins." Romantic Times Online contributor Sandra Garcia-Myers deemed it "an emotionally wrenching but ultimately healing tale." Shelley Mosley, writing in Booklist, predicted that The Art of Keeping Secrets would keep readers "fully engaged" and especially satisfy those "who crave books that sparkle with the sheer beauty of language." Samuel added that all of Henry's novels are characterized by "a touch as graceful as a twilight breeze."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Losing the Moon, p. 1549; May 1, 2005, Shelley Mosley, review of Where the River Runs, p. 1569; April 1, 2006, Shelley Mosley, review of When Light Breaks, p. 26; May 15, 2008, Shelley Mosley, review of The Art of Keeping Secrets, p. 20.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (June, 2008), Barbara Samuel, "For Author Patti Callahan Henry, It's All about the ‘Road Not Taken.’"
Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (August 8, 2008), Cindy Crosby, review of Between the Tides; Terry Miller Shannon, review of The Art of Keeping Secrets.
Mothering Heights,http://www.motheringheights.net/ (December 9, 2007), interview with Patti Callahan Henry.
Patti Callahan Henry Home Page,http://www.patticallahanhenry.com (August 8, 2008).
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (August 8, 2008), Debra LiCausi, review of When Light Breaks; Sheri Melnick, review of Between the Tides; Sandra Garcia-Myers, review of The Art of Keeping Secrets.
WGBH Web site,http://forum.wgbh.org/ (August 8, 2008), brief biography.