Hart, Lenore

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Hart, Lenore

Personal

Born in FL; married David Poyer (a writer); children: one daughter. Education: University of Central Florida, B.A.; Florida State University, M.L.S.; Old Dominion University, M.F.A.

Addresses

Home—VA. Agent—c/o Julia Fleishaker, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. E-mail[email protected]

Career

Writer and educator. Instructor in creative writing at schools, including Florida State University, George Mason University, Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Cape May Institute, U.S. Naval Academy, Old Dominion University, and Tidewater College. Writer-in-residence, for National Endowment for the Arts, Florida Fine Arts Council, and New College, Sarasota, FL; fellow, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; visiting writer at Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL. Appeared in television series Writer to Writer.

Awards, Honors

National Endowment for the Art grant.

Writings

Waterwoman, Berkeley Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Lisa Carrier) T. Rex at Swan Lake (picture book), illustrated by Chris Demarest, Dutton (New York, NY), 2004.

Ordinary Springs, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2005.

The Treasure of Savage Island (young-adult novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.

Work included in anthologies, including In Good Company and Turnings: Writings on Women's Transforations. Contributor to periodicals, including Apalachee Quarterly, Blackwater Review, Brutarian, Chesapeake Life, Flagler Review, Florida Times-Union, Kalliope, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poet's Domain, Powhatan Review, QTR Literary Review, Real Simple, State Street Review, Thema, Tidewater Women, Virginian-Pilot, Vision, Writer, subTerraine, and Water's Edge.

Work in Progress

An adult novel set during the U.S. Civil War; Wild Babies, a picture book.

Sidelights

With roots in Florida that stretch back over four generations, Lenore Hart sets much of her fiction in that state. The author of novels for both teens and adults, as well as of the coauthored picture book T. Rex at Swan Lake, Hart is also an instructor in creative writing who has taught at numerous schools in Florida as well as near her home on Virginia's eastern shore. "I grew up in the 'old' Florida," she recalled to an interviewer for the New College of Florida Web site, "a place of unpaved back roads, miles of rolling orange grove, and alligators crossing the backyard at night. However, by the time I entered college, Disney World had moved in across the lake from my parents' house. From there, I watched rural Florida morph into theme parks and housing tracts." It is the "old Florida" that Hart captures in her novels Waterwoman and Ordinary Springs.

The story of a complex family relationship, Waterwoman focuses on Annie Revels, an awkward older sister who, without the prospect of marriage and with dreams of working alongside her fisherman father, eventually takes on the responsibility for her ailing mother and younger sister after her father's death. Shouldering the challenge of working as a "waterwoman," or female fisherman, twenty-year-old Annie supports her mother and her beautiful younger sister Rebecca, and her hard work seems to be rewarded when she meets and falls in love with Nathan Coombs. However, old jealousies between the sisters soon surface, causing Annie to ques-tion where her responsibilities truly lie. In Booklist Kristine Huntley praised Waterwoman as "a gripping story with an admirable, complex heroine," while Courtney Lewis noted in Kliatt that Hart's "beautiful" prose "leads the reader effortlessly," effectively bringing to light the inner world of "a young woman responsible for everything and everyone in her life."

Set in the 1950s, Ordinary Springs takes its name from the rural Florida town where fifteen-year-old Dory Camber lives with her businessman father, Owen. Growing up in the years following World War II, Dory's life is uneventful until Frank and Myra Fitzgerald move in next door and Myra and Owen begin an affair. Jealous over the loss of her father and shattered by her unintended role in the suicide of Myra's bedridden husband, Dory acts out. Stealing money from her father's store and having sex with her best friend, Pearce, she plans to run away, but her involvement in Frank's death takes her life in an unanticipated direction. Praising Dory as a girl who is "both fallible and completely sympathetic," Huntley wrote in Booklist that Hart's prose is "accessible" and "inviting." In Publishers Weekly a critic dubbed Ordinary Springs "a fine vintage portrait of a tough girl whom life teaches to be tougher," and a Kirkus Reviews writer commended Hart's "expressive prose" for "avoid[ing] … 'southern fiction' preciousness."

In her books for younger readers, Hart moves from family drama to rousing adventure. Coauthored by Lisa Carrier and described by Booklist reviewer Karin Snelson as a "quirky … flight of fancy" featuring art by Chris Demarest, T. Rex at Swan Lake finds a skeletal dinosaur leaving her perch at the local natural-history museum and dancing down the street to star in a performance in a local production of the ballet Swan Lake. Geared for older, middle-grade readers, The Treasure of Savage Island has it all: pirates, hidden treasure, runaway slaves, hidden identities, and a spunky, motherless protagonist determined to make her way in the world against all odds. Living with her shiftless father on an island off the Virginia shore, fifteen-year-old Molly rescues Rafe, a slave whose ship is wrecked off the island's coast. When ruthless pirates visit the island in search of buried treasure, it is up to Molly and Rafe to warn residents, uncovering some hidden truths in the process. In School Library Journal Gerry Larson praised The Treasure of Savage Island as a "fast-paced, compassionate story," while in Booklist Jennifer Hubert cited the book's "unusual setting and strong historical detail."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of Waterwoman, p. 1506; August, 2004, Karin Snelson, review of T. Rex at Swan Lake, p. 1941; January 1, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of Ordinary Springs, p. 817; September 1, 2005, Jennifer Hubert, review of The Treasure of Savage Island, p. 133.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Waterwoman, p. 443; May 1, 2004, review of T. Rex at Swan Lake, p. 439; November 15, 2004, review of Ordinary Springs, p. 1062; July 1, 2005, review of The Treasure of Savage Island, p. 736.

Kliatt, July, 2003, Courtney Lewis, review of Waterwoman, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002, review of Waterwoman, p. 37; June 14, 2004, review of T. Rex at Swan Lake, p. 62; January 3, 2005, review of Ordinary Springs, p. 36.

School Library Journal, August, 2004, Carol Schene, review of T. Rex at Swan Lake, p. 84; August, 2005, Gerry Larson, review of The Treasure of Savage Island, p. 128.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 25, 2003, review of Waterwoman, p. 6.

ONLINE

BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (June 16, 2006), Melissa Morgan, review of Waterwoman.

Harriet Klausner Review Archives Online, http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (June 16, 2006), review of Ordinary Springs.

Lenore Hart Home Page, http://www.esva.net/∼wildflower/ (June 13, 2006).

New College of Florida Web site, http://www.ncf.edu/ (June 13, 2006), "New College Welcomes Writer-in-Residence Lenore Hart."

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