Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar' by Pamela Gossiaux

Michigan author and freelance writer Pamela Gossiaux is an inspirational Christian speaker and the author of three books: ‘Why is There a Lemon in My Fruit Salad? How to Stay Sweet When Life Turns Sour’, ‘A Kid at Heart: Becoming a Child of our Heavenly Father’, and ‘Good Enough’ The first two books proved her abilities as a humorist and a sensitive thinker, but both ‘Good Enough’ and now ‘Mrs. Chartwell and the Cat Burglar’ place her in a new realm of important contemporary authors.

So many of the oft-maligned Chick Lit novels rely on frequent emphasis on sexual encounters to attract their audience. Pamela sees a different direction of importance in her female centric novels – keeping the love interests alive but on the periphery of her core themes. She balances contemporary situations familiar to all of us with little glitches that can change our lives in both a positive way and a not so helpful direction, resolves the issues that she presents, and the result is a book of warmth, humor, and just plain fine storytelling that further establishes her as an significant new voice.

Having proved her ability to write cogent adult romantic comedy, Pamela expands her purview in creating a mystery/suspense novel that works on every level. Not only does she write about technically advanced thievery but also she simultaneously introduces her romantic pairing subtly and builds that element into as fine a courtship and romance as she resolves a theft. And to this sop she adds significant elements of art history, assuring her reader that within this book there are enough elements to attract all manner of readers.

Composing a seductive synopsis is a gift and here Pamela shines, too. ‘Abigail Chartwell, university librarian of ancient maps and documents, gave up on love the icy winter night that she lost her husband. For the past six years, Abigail has been hiding behind thick glasses and the wedding ring he gave her. She had her one true love, and lost him. She isn’t about to experience that hurt again. But then sizzling hot Tony the Cat Burglar drops into her life on a rope from the library skylight one night, when he comes to steal one of her maps—a map he claims can lead him to the “lost painting” of famous Italian artist Antonio Russo. Quoting Shakespeare, clad in black spandex, and armed with his charming smile, Tony and his story are hard to resist. Intrigued, Abigail gets caught up in the hunt, not realizing that the thief’s real target may be her heart.’

The elegance of her prose is suggested by the following passage: ’ “My great-great grandmother was rumored to have had an affair with Russo, and I am the descendant of that event. He couldn’t marry her— because as you know from history, he was already married— but he painted a portrait of her and signed it with a heart next to his name. He called the painting ‘Laurel,’ after my great-grandmother. It was a nickname he had for her. Nobody knew who she was because back in that day to be pregnant out of wedlock was to be shamed.” “Nobody has ever proved that painting exists,” Abigail said. “Ahhh… but it does.” Abigail crossed her arms and sat down on her chair. “So you’re telling me that you are related to Russo— the famous painter— by virtue of an affair and that you know where this world-famous painting is? The painting that every treasure hunter has been looking for for the past seventy years? The painting of the Mystery Woman?” He turned to look at her. She had crossed her legs and taken off her glasses to chew on the frame, a nervous habit of hers. Her green eyes caught his dark ones. “Yes,” he said simply. She cleared her throat. “Well, go at it then. Go find your map.” He stood there, looking at her. “What’s your name?” he asked. “Don’t you know? I thought you had been stalking me.” “I don’t know,” he said. “I only watched to see who left the library and when. I don’t stalk.” “Mrs. Chartwell,” she said out of habit.’

Pamela Gossiaux is fast becoming a major player in the realm of writing. She deserves the wards and attention that are bound to come her way! Grady Harp, November 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.