A SCHOOL OF DAUGHTERS
by Kate René MacKenzie
GENRE: Literary Women’s Fiction
It’s funny how things sneak up on you…
Kate Willoughby is a champion for throwaways—discarded dogs and cats, abandoned horses bound for slaughter, and all creatures great and small. But now it's Kate who's alone in a hostile world like a dog dumped by the side of a road. Is there a champion for Kate?
After 22 years of marriage, Kate loves her husband, Brian, with an even greater passion than when she spoke her vows. “My world spins on his axis,” she often says. But when Kate finds a love letter to Brian from Micky, she’s torn between proving Brian’s innocence and nailing him to the wall with his guilt.
Throughout her marriage, Kate has been trusting and trustworthy —to a fault, friends have said. Now, she steals into Brian’s emails and accesses his credit card accounts, phone records, bank statements, friends and activities, discovering the metaphoric iceberg beneath Brian’s affair.
Turning to the one constant in her life, Kate is guided by her family of animals: shelter dog Molly; Premarin horse Quinn; packrat Winston; owls Albert & Victoria; Stubby, the chipmunk; rattlesnake Cassandra; and Phineas, the determined grosbeak. These wise and wonderful teachers, along with a wild menagerie on her Arizona ranch, deliver lessons on life, love, and letting go. But it’s Molly, in a heartbreaking act of courage, who leads Kate back to her true self, before she became lost in love with Brian.
Shining a light on the childhood events and adult choices that, like steppingstones, brought her to this moment, Kate illuminates a familiar and well-worn path. Narrating her story with equal doses of heartache and humor, Kate comes to understand that nothing sneaks up on you that isn't already here. Learning from Phineas, the determined grosbeak, Kate realizes that even after a devastating injury, you can soar again.
I get through the rest of the day. I feed the horses, wash their faces, brush their coats, pick up poop, then walk Molly, fill the bird feeders, clean the litter box. In between, I hug an old teddy bear. Actually, it’s more than a hug. I cleave to my bear like a life preserver keeping me afloat against the waves of despair that threaten to drown me.
Sometimes I just stop what I’m doing, slump to the ground, and wail. It is the most awful, primitive sound and I can’t believe it’s pouring from me.
Molly comes to me, tail wagging, ears back, offering the comfort of her warm, soft tongue. I reassure her that it’s okay, that I’m okay, and I climb up from the ground and soldier on.
Then there are merciful respites where the pain still exists but I’m too drained to express it. But the best moments are when numbness takes over and I simply exist. It feels like the aftermath of a funeral, when the anguish of death has subsided and all that’s left are soft, graveside tears.
Brian and I have shared seven family funerals. Is Micky Brian’s attempt to postpone the inevitable? Does she make him feel young and new while I remind him of death?
We’ve also shared the birth of seven grandchildren. Does each new life add to his making him seem that much closer to the grave?
I want so much to understand why he is doing this. I want to forgive him. But what I want most is to pretend it all away.
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A School of Daughters is my first introduction to the talents of Kate René MacKenzie. It was one that made me feel as though I had a connection to Kate and wanted to keep reading to see how it would end for her. There were times in the book that made me want to grab my tissues and at others, made me giggle. There were a few chapters that were a little slow but mostly it was a great read. I liked it.
I am giving A School of Daughters four and a half stars. Readers who enjoy reading emotional and relatable fiction. I would love to read more by Kate René MacKenzie in the future.
I received a digital copy of A School of Daughters from the publisher, but was not required to write a positive review. This review is one hundred percent my own honest opinion.