Rice, Luanne 1955–
Rice, Luanne 1955–
Born September 25, 1955, in New Britain, CT; daughter of Thomas F., Jr. (a typewriter repairperson) and Lucille (a teacher) Rice; married and divorced; married Bob Monteleone; children: Rob (stepson).
Writer, c. 1986—.
Angels All over Town, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1986, reprinted, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Crazy in Love Viking (New York, NY), 1988.
Stone Heart, Viking (New York, NY), 1990, reprinted, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Secrets of Paris, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
Blue Moon, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
Home Fires, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Cloud Nine, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Follow the Stars Home, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Dream Country, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Firefly Beach, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Safe Harbor, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2002.
True Blue, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Summer Light, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Perfect Summer, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Secret Hour, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Dance with Me, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Beach Girls, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Summer of Roses, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Summer's Child, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Sandcastles, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2006.
The Edge of Winter, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.
What Matters Most, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2007.
Light of the Moon, Bantam Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Glamour.
Crazy in Love, was made into a television movie on the TNT Network; other books adapted as television movies or miniseries include Blue Moon, Follow the Stars Home, Beach Girls, and Silver Bells.
Luanne Rice has won renown for her novels about life and love in modern times. She began her literary career in the mid-1980s with Angels All over Town, which Los Angeles Times contributor Elizabeth Benedict described as "a rambling, adolescent account of soap-opera star Una Caven's life in the year she turns thirty and finds True Love." After developing envy for her two sisters who are already married, Una starts a relationship with the potential to last. She also appears, however, on the verge of a career breakthrough and eventually finds herself forced to make a difficult choice between private and professional concerns. Meanwhile, her dead father, who has become an angel, pays Una occasional visits.
Rice followed Angels All over Town with Crazy in Love, the story of Georgie Swift Symonds, an obsessive woman who is romantically preoccupied with her husband and suspects that he is compromising their marriage. When she is not harassing her husband into as- surances of his love and fidelity, Georgie is dwelling on the possibility that misfortune might befall members of her extended family. Convinced that her own obsessions might lead to personal catastrophe, she begins conducting interviews with individuals who have committed crimes of passion. When personal tragedy strikes, she finds herself woefully unprepared despite her attempts to avoid misfortune. Ultimately, however, the calamity contributes to Georgie's greater understanding of life.
When Crazy in Love appeared in 1988, it won praise as an endearing, heartfelt tale. Marianne Gingher, in her Washington Post review, deemed the novel "winsome and graceful" and lauded it as inspirational. "What a bright and encouraging book Luanne Rice has written," Gingher noted, "like a porch light left on to show you the way home after dark." And Diane Cole, in her Tribune Books assessment, pronounced Crazy in Love "charming" and "appealing" and added that "even if you do not have a family like Georgie's, you will feel that they are there beside you, cheering you on."
In her next novel, Stone Heart, Rice relates a disturbing story of domestic violence. The novel's central figure, Maria Dark, is an archaeologist who has just left her bullying husband and has returned to her childhood home, where she uncovers evidence that her younger sister, Sophie, is the victim of considerable abuse. At one point, Maria even sees Sophie's husband place a noose around his wife's neck and discuss her funeral. When the torture leads to an act of irrevocable violence, Maria finds herself pained by self-doubt and the confirmation that her childhood residence is hardly the complacent, tranquil place that she remembered. Tribune Books critic Joyce Slater found Stone Heart rewarding, if somewhat conventional, and she concluded: "The smoothness of Rice's prose style, … and her understanding of human nature place [Stone Heart] a cut above other novels in this genre."
Secrets of Paris, which was released in 1991, concerns an American couple living in France. The husband, Michael, is an architect hired to fashion a reception room at the Louvre museum. His wife, Lydie, is a photographer's assistant who is also skilled as an automobile racer. While Lydie mourns her father, who recently killed himself, Michael becomes increasingly involved with a French biographer who is preoccupied with her latest subject, a seductress. Then Lydie befriends Patrice, and the two women scheme to help Patrice's maid move to the United States. Sara Nelson, writing in People, praised Secrets of Paris as "delightfully unusual."
Rice's 1999 novel, Cloud Nine, follows in the vein of her earlier works, "emphasiz[ing] the importance of family and the power of love," explained Library Journal contributor Beth Farrell. Cloud Nine tells the story of brain cancer survivor Sarah Talbot, emotionally damaged charter pilot Will Burke, and his daughter, Susan (known as Secret), and how they influence each other. "The trio together search for the meaning of life, family, and everlasting love in this breathtaking celebration of the human spirit," wrote Beth Gibbs in another Library Journal assessment. Will "sees past the hair whitened by chemotherapy and the livid surgical scars directly into Sarah's soul," and helps her come closer to her widowed father and her son, noted Booklist contributor Melanie Duncan. In turn, Sarah brings Will and Secret toward an acceptance of their son and brother's death. "The plot veers into melodrama at the end, when love and death meet in a heartbreaking scene," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "but Rice's message remains a powerful one: the strength of precious family ties can ultimately set things right." "Rice's lyrical prose and sensational storytelling skills," Duncan noted, "induce sudden tears as well as spontaneous smiles." "What a joy!" exclaimed Gibbs. "Stock up on Kleenex."
Rice's next novel, Follow the Stars Home, tells the story of the complex relationship between two brothers, the woman that one of them marries but that both of them love, her disabled child, and the people whose lives they impact. "Rice," wrote Kathy Ingels Helmond in Library Journal, "has once again created a tender story of a new family unit, where love and loyalty are more important than biology and where learning to trust again opens the door to happiness." "Rice's story of love and redemption," wrote Catherine Sias in Booklist, "will please fans of her tender and poignant style, as well as admirers of Jodi Picoult." "The novel's theme—love's miraculous ability to heal," a Publishers Weekly contributor commented, "has the ingredients to warm readers' hearts."
Dream Country focuses on Daisy and her rancher husband, Tucker, whose marriage ends up in divorce after one of their teenage twins go missing on their ranch. Daisy leaves Wyoming for more than a decade only to return when her and Tucker's daughter runs away from home and is saved from a pervert by a tattooed man who also makes it his duty to save animals. Diana Tixier Herald, writing in Booklist, commented that the "story [is] so real it will be deeply etched into the hearts of its readers." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "creates believable dramatic tension."
In Firefly Beach, Rice tells the story of two sisters who witness tragedies associated with their father, the artist and outdoorsman Hugh Renwick. Caroline witnesses the husband of Hugh's mistress commit suicide, and Skye accidentally kills a man on a hunting trip. As time passes, Skye becomes a successful but alcoholic sculptor, and Caroline eventually meets the son of the man she saw kill himself. Writing in Booklist, Diana Tixier Herald noted that the author's "masterful job of telling this powerful story of love and reconciliation." A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to Firefly Beach as "a lovely celebration of sisterhood, summer and survival."
Dana Underhill arrives in Black Hall, Connecticut, to take care of the two children of her recently deceased sister and brother-in-law in the novel Safe Harbor. Initially planning to take her nieces back to France, where Dana is an artist, she changes her mind when she determines that the girls need stability. The novel follows the trio and Sam Trevor, an old friend of Dana's who arrives on the scene to help, as they try to recover and investigate the causes of the boating accident that took the lives the children's parents. Referring to the book as "a somber meditation on the importance of family ties," a Publishers Weekly contributor noted the author's "evocative prose and her ability to craft intelligent, three-dimensional characters." The novel True Blue also takes place in Black Hall and tells the story of Rumer Larkin, a veterinarian who rekindles an old passion with a man who once gave her up for her older sister. In a review in Booklist, Patty Engelmann referred to the novel as "a delightful love story filled with the subtle nuances of the human heart."
In Summer Light, Rice tells the story of wedding planner May Taylor, the thirty-six-year-old mother of a little girl named Kylie whom they suspect of having psychic ability. Only six, Kylie claims to speak to angels, and she frequently knows ahead of time when something important is about to happen. May dutifully takes her daughter in to see the psychologist on a regular basis so that she can be tested for psychic abilities and to make sure that she is not, in reality, schizophrenic, which is May's greatest fear. But Kylie continues to exhibit extraordinary abilities. Flying on a plane with her mother, she claims to see an angel hovering over a man seated nearby, asking him to assist Kylie and May when it is time. Shortly afterward, the plane must make an emergency landing, and sure enough, the man helps Kylie and May to disembark safely. Eventually, May and Kylie are called upon to help ice hockey player Martin Cartier, who, near retirement, would dearly love to win the Stanley Cup with his team before he gives up the sport. Not only does he fall for May, but mother and daughter both help him to heal from the painful past that has been haunting him. Marilyn Heyman, writing for the Best Reviews Web site, commented that the book "has everything between the pages—a bit of magic, hate, anger, fear, joy and mostly the triumph of love. Ms. Rice has found her niche in the literary world with the brilliant relationship stories that she writes to perfection."
Rice tells the story of Bay McCabe and her seemingly perfect life in the novel The Perfect Summer. Married to a banker and the mother of three, Bay's life soon begins to fall apart when her husband, Sean, is investigated by the FBI for embezzlement and one of her children develops anorexia. In her review in Booklist, Patty Engelmann called the novel "a loving look at family and the issues that must be faced when a crisis threatens." A Publishers Weekly contributor commended the author for her "ability to evoke the lyricism of the seaside lifestyle without over-sentimentalizing contemporary issues." The novel The Secret Hour finds Marine biologist Kate Harris searching for her missing sister, Willa, and developing a relationship with the lawyer of a serial killer who is suspected of murdering Willa. Patty Engelmann wrote in Booklist that the author's "lyrical style reveals the mind of a serial killer." A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to the novel as "a smooth-flowing and fast-paced effort."
In her novel Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale, Rice tells the story of Christy Burns, who grows Christmas trees in Nova Scotia and sells them in New York. On a sales trip to the city, Christy gets in a fight with his son Danny and is hauled off to jail. A local widow, Catherine Tierney, helps care for Danny and then faces a dilemma of whether of not she should tell Christy where the boy is a year later when Christy returns to sell more trees. Shelley Mosley, writing in Booklist, called the novel "a prodigal son parable and a heartwarming holiday treat." A Publishers Weekly contribu- tor wrote: "Rice's romanticized vision of Manhattan is sharpened by local detail, and her heartwarming Christmas story."
Dance with Me tells of two sisters—Jane, a New York City bakery owner, and Sylvie—who come together in a small Rhode Island town to help care for their sick mother, Margaret. Eventually Jane runs into a widowed law enforcement agent from New York named Dylan Chadwick, and the two begin a relationship while Jane grows increasingly close to Dylan's daughter. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author's "sympathetic protagonists keep readers engaged." Rice focuses on the strong bonds between women in her novel Beach Girls, which takes place at the seaside resort of Hubbard's Point, Connecticut. The novel finds one of the women, Stevie, sought out by a recently deceased friend's daughter, who wants to know more about her mother's early life. Eventually, Stevie finds herself falling for the girl's father. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote: "Few writers evoke summer's translucent days so effortlessly, or better capture the bittersweet ties of family love."
Summer's Child finds Lilly and her daughter, Rose, living in Nova Scotia and hiding out from her abusive husband. When Rose develops a heart problem and meets another girl whose mother is in a similar situation, Lilly is eventually led to face her hidden past. In a review in Publishers Weekly a contributor commented: "this book—one of Rice's best in recent years—depicts the magical endurance of love with the sensitivity and realism." Summer of Roses continues the story Rice began in Summer's Child. Rose is recovering from heart surgery and Lilly is in love with oceanographer Liam Neill. When Lilly returns to Connecticut to care for a sick relative, however, she once again must face the man who drove her into hiding. Patty Engelmann, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "gives her readers an in-depth look at the devastation abuse causes."
Sandcastles tells the story of the Sullivan family, John, Honor, and their three daughters, whose lives are abruptly turned upside down by, among other things, an inability to communicate. John is a sculptor of large installation pieces and is working on the coast of Ireland, assembling his latest project. After he finishes, he has his family join him to see the completed piece. However, when the body of a local is discovered on a nearby ledge, with the eldest Sullivan daughter standing beside it, John is accused of the murder. Because he refuses to draw his daughter into the case, John refuses to testify on his own behalf and is sentenced to a six-year sentence in the local Irish prison. His stubbornness, as his wife sees it, drives a wedge between John and the rest of his family, and when he returns to Connecticut after his release, they must all reconcile with the events in Ireland. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews commented that the book was "overwrought and flimsy—but at least the coastal scenery is lovely." However, Booklist reviewer Patty Engelmann commented that "with deft style, Rice delicately handles heartbreak and redemption."
The Edge of Winter revolves around divorced mother Neve Halloran, who, teamed with her teenage daughter, attempts to thwart the destruction of their local Irish beachfront by a developer who is seeking to uncover a sunken German submarine. They seek the aid of a local park ranger, Tim O'Casey, who, while offering assistance, also manages to help heal Neve's bruised ego and battered heart—a remnant of her bad marriage. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Rice … draws her cast of appealing characters sharply … and her significant storytelling skills are fully deployed." Engelmann, again reviewing for Booklist, stated: "Rice weaves together an involving tale of love, loss, and redemption."
Rice offers readers a sequel of sorts to Sandcastles with her next book, What Matters Most. Sister Bernadette Ignatius, formerly Bernie Sullivan, serves as the Mother Superior of an academy on the coast of Connecticut. The book tells the story of her trip to Dublin with ombudsman Tom Kelly, searching for the son they gave up two decades before. While they search for the boy—born James, now Seamus—he in turn searches for the girl, Kathleen, with whom he was raised as a fellow orphan until she was thirteen. The book's overriding theme is love, and how it can survive separation of both years and great distances. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly found parts of the book predictable, but concluded that "there's guilt, redemption and three-hankie moments aplenty for those who stick it out to the end." Deborah Donovan, reviewing for Booklist, found the "characters … engaging, compelling the reader to keep those pages turning until all loose threads are tied."
In Light of the Moon, Rice introduces readers to Susannah Connolly, a woman who is badly in need of a vacation after her mother dies of cancer. Susannah decides to take some time off work and travels to the South of France, where she stays in the Camargue region. Her mother had always been fascinated by the church of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which is located there and which holds the remains of Gypsy patroness Sarah the Black, whom Susannah's mother credited with helping her conceive after ten fruitless years. Susannah visits the church in an effort to honor her mother's wishes. At the church, she meets American Grey Dempsey, who is living nearby with his daughter Sari on a horse ranch. Sari's mother was a gypsy and, unable to give up her nomadic ways, left Grey and Sari five years earlier. Susannah finds herself drawn to Grey, and though Sari is adamant that no woman can take her mother's place, Grey and Susannah start a romance. Reviewers had mixed reactions to Rice's effort. A writer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "the narrative is maddeningly repetitive and the lovey-dovey passages dull." Booklist contributor Deborah Donovan reviewed the book, however, and commented that "Rice utilizes the surreal landscape of the Camargue and the haunting legend … to perfection."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 1998, Melanie Duncan, review of Cloud Nine, p. 730; February 15, 2000, Catherine Sias, review of Follow the Stars Home, p. 1084; December 15, 2000, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Dream Country, p. 787; May 1, 2001, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Firefly Beach, p. 1671; June 1, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Summer Light, p. 1855; December 15, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Safe Harbor, p. 708; August, 2002, Patty Engelmann, review of True Blue, p. 1935; January 1, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of The Secret Hour, p. 851; August, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of The Perfect Summer, p. 1958; August, 2004, Patty Engelmann, review of Beach Girls, p. 1910; October 15, 2004, Shelley Mosley, review of Silver Bells: A Holiday Tale, p. 394; June 1, 2005, Patty Engelmann, review of Summer's Child, p. 1766; August, 2005, Patty Engelmann, review of Summer of Roses, p. 2006; June 1, 2006, Patty Engelmann, review of Sandcastles, p. 49; January 1, 2007, Patty Engelmann, review of The Edge of Winter, p. 59; May 15, 2007, Deborah Donovan, review of What Matters Most, p. 28; November 15, 2007, Deborah Donovan, review of Light of the Moon, p. 6.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Dance with Me, p. 1419; May 1, 2006, review of Sandcastles, p. 435; December 15, 2006, review of The Edge of Winter, p. 1240.
Library Journal, December, 1998, Beth Gibbs, review of Cloud Nine, p. 158; May 1, 1999, Beth Farrell, review of Cloud Nine, p. 128; December, 1999, Kathy Ingels Helmond, review of Follow the Stars Home, p. 188; July 1, 2006, Carol J. Bissett, review of Sandcastles, p. 72.
Los Angeles Times, February 28, 1986, Elizabeth Benedict, review of Angels All Over Town.
Maclean's, March 27, 2000, "People," p. 67.
People, August 19, 1991, Sara Nelson, review of Secrets of Paris.
Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1998, review of Cloud Nine, p. 55; November 22, 1999, review of Follow the Stars Home, p. 40; December 4, 2000, review of Dream Country, p. 53; April 16, 2001, review of Firefly Beach, p. 50; June 25, 2001, review of Summer Light, p. 50; January 28, 2002, review of Safe Harbor, p. 272; November 25, 2002, review of The Secret Hour, p. 40; July 14, 2003, review of The Perfect Summer, p. 62; January 26, 2004, review of Dance with Me, p. 230; June 28, 2004, review of Beach Girls, p. 37; October 25, 2004, review of Silver Bells, p. 28; May 23, 2005, review of Summer's Child, p. 65, May 8, 2006, review of Sandcastles, p. 47; January 15, 2007, review of The Edge of Winter, p. 34; May 21, 2007, "A Sense of Place," p. 28; May 28, 2007, review of What Matters Most, p. 35; November 5, 2007, review of Light of the Moon, p. 40.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 31, 1988, Diane Cole, review of Crazy in Love, p. 4; May 6, 1990, Joyce Slater, review of Stone Heart, p. 6; July 14, 1991, review of Secrets of Paris, p. 7.
Washington Post, August 17, 1987, Marianne Gingher, review of Crazy in Love.
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (June 28, 2002), Marilyn Heyman, review of Summer Light.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (October 11, 2006), information on author's novels adapted for television.
January,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (October 11, 2006), Linda Richards, "January Interview: Luanne Rice."