LeClaire, Anne D. 1942- (Anne Dickinson LeClaire)
LeClaire, Anne D. 1942- (Anne Dickinson LeClaire)
Born October 7, 1942, in Ware, MA; daughter of Edward Lewis (an electrician) and Winifred Louise (a teacher) Dickinson; married Hillary Martin LeClaire (a pilot and fisherman), February 1, 1962; children: Hope D'Avril, Christopher Doane. Education: Attended Miami University, Oxford, OH, 1960-62, and North Adams College, 1962-64. Politics: "Left-leaning independent." Religion: "The planet." Hobbies and other interests: Flying (licensed private pilot), yoga, organic gardening, fencing, swimming.
Cape Cod Illustrated, Hyannis, MA, writer and associate editor, 1974-76; Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, reporter and op-ed writer, 1976-82; freelance writer, 1982—. WVLC-Radio, news reporter, 1974-76; Boston Globe, correspondent, 1979-82; also worked as an actor. Barnstable County House of Correction, writing instructor; gives readings from her works.
Writers Guild, Boston Authors Club, Friends of Monomoy Theatre (president).
Eight writing fellowships from Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Ragdale Foundation.
Land's End, Bantam (New York, NY), 1985.
Every Mother's Son, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
Grace Point, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.
Sideshow, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.
Entering Normal, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.
Leaving Eden, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2002.
The Law of Bound Hearts: A Novel, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
The Lavender Hour, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2007.
Work represented in anthologies, including I Always Wanted to Tell You: Women Writers' Letters to Their Mothers, Pocket Books (New York City), 1996. Contributor to magazines and newspapers, including Redbook, New York Times, and Yankee. Many of LeClaire's books have been published in foreign translation in South Africa, Norway, and Germany.
Every Mother's Son and Grace Point have been optioned for film.
Anne D. LeClaire told CA: "The subject of my writing is also a reflection of the deepest work of my heart and mind. I write what I am thinking, fearing, trying to understand; or, perhaps more accurately, I write to really understand what I am thinking and fearing and wrestling with. I also write to understand the workings of the human heart. I write what I would like to read.
"The incubation period for a book can be as long as ten years. Even while I am writing one book, a part of my mind is becoming engaged with another idea: sometimes a person, or a particular place or theme, or an idea that struck out of the blue while I was driving, or walking, or even sleeping. The idea for my first novel came to me in a dream. In a hazy, unformed state, I grope with the theme, the plot, the direction the book will take. This occurs in bits and pieces, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months.
"A major theme that I seem to probe in every book is the conflict between fear and hope, fear and love. What makes us operate out of fear? What makes one operate out of faith? What are the consequences of these choices? I explore the courage it takes to choose faith instead of fear. I write, too, about the power of the family mythology in our lives, and how it can be both a prison and a profound source of richness."
Many critics have expressed admiration for the warmth and richness of emotion in LeClaire's novels. Booklist contributor GraceAnne A. DeCandido, for example, described Entering Normal as a big-hearted work that is a "woman's book in the best possible sense." Its story focuses on two main characters: Opal, a free-spirited twenty-year-old mother who has left North Carolina with her young son in hopes of making a new life in the Massachusetts town of Normal; and Rose, a reserved woman who is still grieving five years after her teenage son died in a car crash. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly compared the book's "emotional wallop" to that found in novels by Sue Miller or Jane Hamilton, and predicted that its "endearing (if at times frustrating) characters will hold readers' interest right up to the bittersweet ending."
Similar enthusiasm greeted publication of Leaving Eden, a coming-of-age novel about a motherless teenage girl with dreams of Hollywood. Tallie spends the summer working in the local beauty parlor and keeps a journal in which she notes the words of wisdom she picks up from customers. When Tallie sees an advertisement for a makeover and photo session, she convinces herself that this is all she needs to launch her career as a star—a path her mother had taken, and failed at, years before. Tallie's journey gives her the opportunity to learn not only about herself, but also about the secrets her late mother had kept. A writer for Publishers Weekly found Tallie an "endearing" character whose story is enjoyable. Whitney Scott, writing in Booklist, observed that Leaving Eden is "bursting with life" despite its somber theme of loss.
The Law of Bound Hearts: A Novel is the story of adult sisters who have grown apart. Sam, a divorced wedding-cake designer, lives in Massachusetts; Libby, wife of a music professor and mother of college-age twins, lives in Chicago. When Libby is diagnosed with kidney disease, she contacts Sam, setting in motion the mechanisms of memory, soul-searching, and forgiveness. Though Library Journal reviewer Keddy Ann Outlaw found the novel's plot slightly melodramatic, she observed that LeClaire "has crafted authentic characters and successfully portrays the power of forgiveness." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews described the novel as an "intelligent confection."
LeClaire "pulls out all the emotional stops" in The Lavender Hour, according to Booklist contributor Joanne Wilkinson. The novel tells the story of Jessie Long, a thirty-two-year-old cancer survivor who moves to Cape Cod and volunteers at a hospice. Having weathered some disastrous love affairs, Jessie immediately falls in love with a patient, breaking the strict rule against becoming emotionally involved. When the patient deliberately overdoses on pain medication, Jessie is charged with murder. Wilkinson observed that LeClaire's honest depiction of Jessie, including her quirky flaws, helps to leaven the novel's heavy subject matter. A writer for Kirkus Reviews had similar praise, noting that The Lavender Hour transcends the clichés of its theme because LeClaire "packs this winning novel with resounding life lessons and a resonating set of romantic relationships."
Well-known for her romantic fiction, LeClaire has also written several suspense novels. Sideshow, in which a macabre sleep experiment propels a librarian into the life of an abused girl in 1930s Ohio, was described by Dennis Winters in Booklist as an "expertly crafted horror novel" that is enhanced by LeClaire's "taut control" of atmosphere.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August 1, 1994, Dennis Winters, review of Sideshow, p. 2023; May 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Entering Normal, p. 1667; September 1, 2002, Whitney Scott, review of Leaving Eden, p. 58; August 1, 2004, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Law of Bound Hearts: A Novel, p. 1900; January 1, 2007, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Lavender Hour, p. 56.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of Leaving Eden, p. 1064; July 1, 2004, review of The Law of Bound Hearts, p. 599; October 15, 2006, review of The Lavender Hour, p. 1037.
Library Journal, July 1, 2004, Keddy Ann Outlaw, review of The Law of Bound Hearts, p. 72.
Publishers Weekly, June 8, 1992, review of Grace Point, p. 52; June 13, 1994, review of Sideshow, p. 49; April 9, 2001, review of Entering Normal, p. 48; August 26, 2002, review of Leaving Eden, p. 42; October 23, 2006, review of The Lavender Hour, p. 27.
School Library Journal, September 1, 2001, Judy McAloon, review of Entering Normal, p. 259; February 1, 2003, Ellen Bottiny, review of Leaving Eden, p. 172.
Anne LeClaire Home page,http://www.anneleclaire.com (May 25, 2007).